For many Formula 1 fans, Ayrton Senna was the ultimate driver. He may have only won three world titles compared to Michael Schumacher’s seven and Lewis Hamilton’s five, but Senna’s phoenix-like legendary status is never about the number of personal championships. Watch hours of grainy late-1980s footage of his races and you’ll see the reason why he has such a huge legion of supporters. And now, one dude—a rich dude, if we may add—has paid a very fitting tribute to him.
The McLaren Special Operations division of the British carmaker for bespoke automobiles was commissioned by said man to build a unique P1 GTR that would serve as a sleek nod to the celebrated Brazilian driver’s first F1 title in 1988—30 years ago, in case you didn’t notice. But wait a minute. McLaren already has the Senna, created in honor of the man himself. We can only guess that the P1 GTR was chosen due to its track-focused purpose. In addition, the P1 GTR is very exclusive. Only available to those who already have the P1, the car makes this particular Senna tribute even more special.
Perhaps the most striking feature of this P1 GTR is the paint job. The familiar white-and-red livery with the chevron outline is inspired by the signature Marlboro race colors which Ayrton Senna’s championship-winning MP4/4 race car wore during the 1988 season. But the attention to detail doesn’t stop there. The ’12’ on the car’s nose represents Senna’s 1988 race number. In lieu of the “Marlboro” wording is the bar code that is now used due to the tobacco advertising ban. The Brazilian flag on the door is obviously self-explanatory. Over 800 hours of blood, sweat and tears went into painting the car alone, which makes this project a real labor of love.
The McLaren MP4/4’s turbocharged Honda engine was a wild beast that could only be tamed by the godlike reflexes of Senna’s right foot. It was simply a powerhouse, and one that the P1 GTR’s high-tech hybrid mill can only try to emulate in terms of achievement. The engine produces 986hp by default, aided by a push-to-pass system similar to KERS technology on a Formula 1 car. But the Senna P1 GTR gets even more go-fast goodies unique to this car. The 24-karat gold heat shield keeps the engine bay from getting too warm and toasty. The engine cover is made out of tough and lightweight Lexan polycarbonate glazing. Although no specific performance figures have been provided, the lucky owner is said to be “suitably pleased.”
And suitably pleased he should be with this P1 GTR, which he has christened “Beco” (the same nickname Senna was affectionally called by his parents). The multifunction steering wheel is trimmed in Alcantara and color-matched to that of the MP4/4. Any guy fortunate enough to hop inside will have his bum resting on super-lightweight racing seats similar to those in the McLaren Senna hypercar. And to complete the Senna experience, a dedicated helmet has been created for the car.
The aerodynamics of the MP4/4 were pretty much basic at best, given what was possible using 1980s technology. Even with Ayrton Senna’s supreme talent with the steering wheel, the car was always teetering on the edge of its available aerodynamic grip. McLaren engineers don’t want Beco’s owner to feel like every track day is a fight to stay alive, so they’ve given this P1 GTR several aero upgrades to maximize the potential of the engine. The car has additional dive planes and a bigger front splitter for better front-end grip. At the rear, the wing features additional elements and enlarged endplates to keep this beast tracking straight and true especially when powering out of mid- and high-speed corners. All in all, the enhanced aerodynamics keep the car glued to the tarmac with around 800kg of downforce.
Three years of painstaking hard work and dedication went into the production of this car. This is chassis number 12 of the P1 GTR fleet, which we suspect is not a coincidence. If Ayrton Senna could come down from heaven and see this for himself, he’d probably jump in and drive it to its limits. Hopefully, the owner won’t try to do the same.