So the might that is the McLaren road car division is releasing a limited run hyper-car (Super not being, well, super enough these days) called the Senna.
Now there is a mighty F1 link if ever there was one. Great idea to link a road car company to the legends and dare-doing of the pinnacle of motor sport! Hurrah! A hero of a recent yet bygone era with enough Halo effect for all (the deity kind, not the "it makes something somewhere safer some time" kind).
Hang on. Doesn't McLaren still have a racing division? Oh yes! A quick google and it appears it does.
Yet, with an active F1 racing team, that during the 2017 season used an engine developed by their now ex-engine partner Honda, the McLaren road division elect to use a family name from a great man dead over twenty years and not current direct Formula One links! How so? We all cry.
Senna was a remarkable character, rightly respected around the planet for his spirit, fierce racing, and remarkable wins. He was far from flawless, yet he was the stuff of legend even before his tragic early demise.
Yet, on reflection, Formula One provided him with a stage on which to present his greatness, rather than making him great, if you follow me. It is not difficult to imagine him being respected on any field of conflict, sporting or battle, because of his essence. Heroes walk around us each and every day. What is rare is that confluence of fate, ability, and timing such that these hidden heroes are presented the chance to reveal themselves to the world.
Senna strode into the light, revealed himself to the world, and the world blinked in awe.
Now, after a decades long flow of books, articles, and a remarkable documentary (along with a few less well produced media reviews) we still blink in awe. The transcendent might of true heroes rings through the ages.
So no wonder McLaren should look to the name of a hero that is not just for the world of motor sport, but transcends that to embody fighting spirit, total dedication, and a ruthless will to succeed that is known and respected outside the limited universe of Formula One.
Compare that spiritual and marketing might with the actual fact of the car, with Formula One and the McLaren racing team this past season.
Rather than a rare limited edition, the McLaren Senna car could be more rightly considered a modestly limited serial production run. It is after all based on the "mass produced" McLaren 720, which at a production rate of around 800 units in 2017, and around 1,500 units per year after that, is not exactly the most common car you will reverse into while navigating the Aldi car park. Just ask Felipe Massa, who no doubt with more time on his hands will spend more time with some of his beloved watches in his hands. Anything with a production run in double-digits is not a limited edition Felipe will most assuredly tell us. Bash out more than ten of anything and you have entered the world of limited serial production.
So 500 Senna cars, all taken.
They have moveable aero devices that are banned in Formula One.
They have trick adaptive suspension, which likewise is banned on the track.
They have a true rip-snorter of a bellowing V8 (dry sump, 4.0L, twin turbo) strapped in the back, as now banned in Formula One.
It is to be believed it will rocket to 100kph (a tad over 60mph) in around 2.5 seconds, before storming on to a more or less unusable across the roads of the planet 300kph+.
Not bad for around $1,000,000... until one reflects on Elon Musk planning his next roadster to abuse the air with a ripping 1.9 second hammering to 100kph, and a cost of around $250,000.
Of course Elon sadly cannot claim all that Formula One derived technology that will breathe life into his charging beauty. Oh, hang on, McLaren didn't directly use any of their Formula One technology either.
And rather than looking back and grabbing one of motor sport's great names to add shine to his roadster he has challenged Boeing to a race to Mars, and states he will put his new roadster in orbit around Mars before Boeing get there.
Now that's a race I'll be watching with interest.
If one really wants to feel a spiritual connection to a hero who transcends time I recommend buying a well-cared for (most of them are) Honda NSX.
A highly capable road car built at a time when Honda was getting it right on the track and off it.
Senna was being powered by their engines to the stuff of legends on the track, while he was helping them refine the handling of the NSX for the open road. Each time you sit in an NSX and do your best to take that sweet winding road home you are sitting in a place where the spirit of Senna is strong and the hero actually sat. You are sitting in the driving seat having precisely the driving experience you are, directly because of him.
Each time you sit in a McLaren Senna (should you get the chance) you will be reminded that all the great parts of the car are not directly evolved from Formula One or the mighty Ayrton. It doesn't even use a Honda engine, thus ignoring a Senna link, and the racing division's 2017 engine supplier.
The car that slapped on the Senna name for halo effect is being promoted by a man that did the same. Young Bruno knew the value of that name, and his respect for his heroic uncle is beyond question, utter, complete, and respectful.
Over the years humanity has found many ways to honour our fallen heroes with respect and dignity that recalls their greatness while flattering their failings.
For the life of me, I'm not quite sure what the McLaren Senna is supposed to be or do. The great man neither raced it, engineered it, or, obviously, drove it.
He drove the mighty McLaren Formula One cars to three World championships at a time when both the world and racing were far simpler than today. I believe the original McLaren F1 road car, with a suitable mighty Honda in the back, would have been a fitting tribute. Yet the company elected not to put Senna's name on that car. Then Honda declined to meet Gordon Murray's challenge for the V12 engine he desired, so the F1 uses a BMW engine that propels it at titanic speeds without energy recovery, super-charging, or turbo-charging.
It is a mighty statement for the great McLaren to honour their greatest ever driver. And truth is, by the standards of 2017, the McLaren Senna is a mighty hyper-car. Yet is this how we should honour him?
Why not look back with honour and if you feel the need for something material go buy a second-hand NSX. Or look to the future, buy a Roadster from Cheeky Elon, and simply carry the spirit of Senna in your heart.
Either way you've significant spare funds remaining from having not purchased a McLaren Senna. So now spend some of the $750,000 you've just saved on a driving holiday to Imola.
Piloting the NSX you will have Senna with you through every corner along the way. In the Tesla Roadster Senna will be in your heart, and he will respect your world class choice of weapon. And then, exiting your car of choice, brakes pinging behind you as they cool, walk and stand in that place of battle. Breathing deep and slow, eyes closed, feet on the ground, feel the spirit. Ignore the latest marketing exercise and channel the passion.
That's honouring Senna.
Learn more about Max and check out his previous features, here