Bruno Senna pays tribute to his uncle Ayrton Senna

Thirty years on, Bruno Senna, nephew of Ayrton, drives a McLaren Senna hypercar at Donington Park in tribute to one of Formula 1’s most outstanding performances. Not only was the opening lap spectacular, but Senna’s race victory was dominant. Ayrton Senna’s 1:18.029 lap record remains the fastest Formula 1 race time at the Leicestershire, UK, circuit.

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Now, more Senna names enter the Donington history books, with Bruno setting a lap record for a production road car in the McLaren Senna on the ‘GP’ circuit. Produced in limited numbers in 2018 – 2019, the McLaren Senna is the most extreme road-going and track-oriented McLaren Ultimate car ever.

The Senna name has returned to Donington Park as one of a series of McLaren milestone moments commemorating Ayrton Senna’s legacy, 30 years after the legendary Formula 1 driver’s final race in May 1994.

Reflecting on Ayrton Senna’s incredible performance at the 1993 European Grand Prix at the Leicestershire, UK, circuit, Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna took to the track in a McLaren Senna hypercar in tribute to his uncle’s epic drive.

Held on 11 April 1993, the Donington Park race is forever memorable, not only as the scene of one of Ayrton Senna’s most accomplished race victories but also what is widely regarded as one of the greatest laps in Formula 1 history.

Driving the McLaren MP4/8 in increasingly wet conditions, in which reputation as a special driver was forged, the Senna drove from fifth to first position on the opening lap. Recovering from a poor getaway off the line with exceptional talent and trademark Senna instinctive driving skills, the Brazilian driver went off the conventional racing line in places to pass existing and future world champions in incredible style with individual passes at different parts of the 2.5-mile circuit. This accomplishment, one of Senna’s most imperious performances, has become known as the ‘Lap of the Gods’.

This iconic first tour around the circuit was the beginning of a dominant performance in the race. Senna won by more than 1 minute and 23 seconds, lapping all but the second-placed driver to record the largest margin of victory he had achieved in his Formula 1 career.

The McLaren and Senna names are intertwined so strongly. It is a great achievement that this team worked together to bring the McLaren Senna out, a car that would have definitely made Ayrton extremely proud.

Bruno Senna
Nephew of Ayrton Senna and former Formula 1 driver

The race’s lore among fans of Formula 1 and Ayrton Senna also extends to the unconventional winner’s trophy*, lifted by the victorious and triumphant Senna on the podium.

The Donington Park race was the exact kind of performance that cemented Ayrton Senna’s legacy as a driver with remarkable abilities who could extend beyond the best of the competition through total commitment to extracting the maximum from his talent and car again and again—an ethos that McLaren remains inspired by three decades later.

Honouring the famous display, Bruno Senna took to the track in the McLaren hypercar that bears the Senna name and channels this complete dedication to on-track performance: the McLaren Senna.

The McLaren Senna is the most extreme road-going McLaren ever built and the most track-oriented of the McLaren Ultimate cars. It stands out not only for its incredible level of performance but also for its ability to create an innate connection between car and driver, which is wholly appropriate in a car inspired by Ayrton Senna’s driving style.

“Ayrton, on that first lap at Donington Park in 1993, was on another planet, in another dimension to all these elite drivers. Putting on such a drive in such complex, tricky conditions and against more competitive cars was an incredible achievement. It’s one of those races you must remember, like Portugal in 1985 and Brazil in 1991.

“Donington is one of the fun tracks, and of course, the weather can play a part here, but today was quite different to the 1993 race! In a high downforce, super-lightweight car like the McLaren Senna, you can feel the fantastic flow and change of elevation – and, of course, the speed!

With a lightest dry weight of 1,198kg, enabled by its carbon fibre Monocage III chassis and body panels, in combination with the 800PS power output from its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, the McLaren Senna has a power-to-weight ratio of an astonishing 668PS-per-tonne (659bhp). The extreme aerodynamic package of McLaren’s most track-orientated Ultimate car includes active elements front and rear, capable of generating up to 800kg of downforce. At the same time, motorsport-derived brakes provide unprecedented stopping power: braking from 200km/h (124mph) to a standstill is achieved in just 100 metres.

Bruno echoed his uncle’s exploits, taking the McLaren Senna around the circuit in 1m30.5s to set a new unofficial lap record for a road-going production car on the same Donington Park Grand Prix configuration at which Ayrton was famously victorious.

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