Lewis Hamilton in Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda MP4/4

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Honda MP4/4
Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Honda MP4/4

Lewis Hamilton didn’t get to drive Ayrton Senna’s McLaren-Honda MP4/4 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as planned. The car’s gearbox broke the day before he was due to take over.

But he did try out the car at McLaren’s headquarters in preparation for the event. Here’s some pictures of Hamilton in the 1988 McLaren-Honda MP4/4.

The MP4/4 was the car Senna won his first championship with in 1988. He and Alain Prost carved up the championship, winning all bar one of the 16 races, the most dominant performance ever seen by an F1 team. They ended the season with 199 points – two less than every other team added together.

The 1.5-litre turbocharged Honda RA168E had around 700bhp at its disposal. This, in the final year of turbo cars in F1, was far less than in early days of turbos. Tight fuel and boost restrictions reined in their explosive potency which had been far in excess of 1,000bhp.

The engine was installed in a car designed by Steve Nichols and Gordon Murray. It bore the same low, sleek profile of Murray’s unsuccessful 1986 Brabham BT55 – but now the concept had been honed to perfection.

There was no single element that made the MP4/4 untouchable – much like the dominant F2002 and F2004 Ferraris of this decade it was a car that was more than the sum of its parts.

Hamilton, who is well-known to be a Senna fan, will be hoping he gets a chance to drive it next year. Here he is trying out the car:

Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Honda MP4/4
Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Honda MP4/4
Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Honda MP4/4
Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren-Honda MP4/4
Lewis Hamilton with the McLaren-Honda MP4/4
Lewis Hamilton with the McLaren-Honda MP4/4

Images used with permission of Racing Line magazine.

Goodwood Festival of Speed 2009 pictures and video