It’s hard to imagine many cars calling out the McLaren P1 for being less than batshit crazy, but the car formerly known as the McLaren P15, and now named Senna, after the legendary triple F1 champ who died in 1994, does exactly that.
“We couldn’t push the P1 as far as some might have wanted it to go because we also had to make it work on the road,” says McLaren’s Andy Palmer, the guy behind McLaren’s Ultimate Series cars. That’s McLaren speak for the really fast, expensive ones, and the P1 he’s calling a bit of an indecisive wuss was, you might remember, a 903 bhp monster that ripped to 60mph in less than three seconds and had so much aero you could have filled it with helium and it’d still have stuck to the ground like the thing was hewn from a solid steel billet.
There was the P1 GTR, of course, but that wasn’t remotely road legal. The Senna is a proper homologated road car–though only in the way a Lamborghini Urus is an off-roader. “You can use this on the road,” concedes Palmer, “but everything about it is focused on cutting lap times.”
But what exactly is the Senna? If you’re thinking it must be the replacement for the P1 you’re only part right. Mindful of the compromises made with the P1 its replacement comes in two parts: this track-ready Senna, and a three-seat GT recalling the flavor of the iconic McLaren F1. Currently codenamed BP23, we’ll see that car before the end of 2018. It won’t be as quick as the $1m-plus-taxes Senna around a track, but it’ll obliterate it in a straight line, cost twice as much and cause the Bugatti Chiron a world of pain. At least, that’s what McLaren hopes.
Slide the brutal looking carbon seat forward and you notice the RND transmission selector moves with it. Swivel your body around and you’ll see the only storage space, a stash for two helmets, and beyond, a window into the engine bay, provided you haven’t opted for the blanked bulkhead. Can’t think why you would.
McLaren will build 500 Sennas and they’re all sold, with an unspecified portion of each sale going to the Senna Foundation charity. If you missed out on a Senna, there’s always the track-only GTR version coming later.