The car’s unique looks result largely from the extreme active aerodynamics that sprout from its basic teardrop shape: a huge rear wing and front splitter (both with active elements) plus straight flanks, exotically shaped wheel arches, air-gulping scoops and inlets, and more subtle air dams and strakes.
McLaren's Andy Palmer on the new Senna hypercar
According to Ultimate Series vehicle line boss Andy Palmer, the Senna’s engineering and design team spent two years adapting McLaren’s now familiar recipe of carbonfibre chassis and panels, compact, mid-mounted twin-turbo V8, race-bred interconnected suspension and electrohydraulic power steering to create the most extreme McLaren since the company’s modern era began in 2010.
Opinion: Is McLaren readying the Senna for Le Mans?
The result is a car with the unprecedentedly low dry weight of 1198kg (undercutting the already light 720S by 220kg). Throw in a 9% power hike for the 4.0-litre engine and the Senna has an eyewatering power-to-weight ratio of 660bhp per tonne. It is not surprising that the factory claims it’ll turn in the quickest lap times of any production McLaren yet.
McLaren has just confirmed the car's straight-line performance figures - you can get a full rundown of them here - but the key ones are this: 0-62mph in 2.8sec and a top speed of 211mph.
McLaren hyper-GT development mule: first pictures
Palmer is at pains to point out that, despite the spectacular performance, the Senna is not a direct P1 successor.
Unlike other McLarens, which claim a breadth of capability, the Senna focuses squarely on lap times, offering “the purest connection yet between driver and car of any road-legal McLaren”. Besides, whereas the P1 was a hybrid (as half of McLaren’s production cars will be by 2022), the Senna is a solely fossil-fuelled car whose lack of electrification is one reason for its amazingly low weight.
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Day-to-day practicality also goes onto the back burner in the Senna. A 720S has decent luggage space and cabin storage, for instance, but this track-day special has deliberately very little. A new roll-over structure behind the driver leaves room, according to Palmer, for only “two helmets, two driving suits and possibly a packet of sandwiches”.
The use of the Senna name is underpinned by the continuing presence at Woking of Bruno Senna, Ayrton’s nephew and a former Formula 1 racer in his own right, as a McLaren Automotive driver and ambassador.