Some trepidation is inevitably associated with the task of driving any car of the Senna’s capabilities to its full potential on a track.
Commitment and concentration are necessary, obviously, as well as plenty of physical effort. Beyond all that, however, it’s what isn’t required – the skill, nerve or experience of a multiple-occasion Le Mans winner – that’s really remarkable to observe.
That’s because, while the Senna certainly demands you push your own limits a good deal farther than they’ll likely ever have been pushed before, the car’s handling is, for the most part, unerringly consistent, predictable and benign. The Senna challenges you to open up earlier, brake later and corner quicker, extending its grip level ahead of you as the tyres heat up and the aero comes in like some adrenaline-fuelled voodoo. But it also stays with you; on your side at every step.
That said, those Trofeo R tyres need to be properly warmed up and then adjusted for operating pressure before the car’s ready to hit its most compelling stride (a process that takes a good eight to 10 laps of most circuits, plus a pit stop, in itself). Drive the Senna too keenly on cold tyres, in one of its higher suspension modes and more permissive stability control settings, and you’ll find it surprisingly short on grip and stability; everything it absolutely isn’t when in ground-hugging Race mode, with some heat in the rubber.
But even having started your Senna stint right, you expect somewhere to have to negotiate one or two hurdles as a result of the way the car’s downforce builds. They just don’t come. The effect of the car’s active aero and suspension actually seems to be to shift its apparent centre of mass rearwards slightly as you start to risk 80mph, 90mph and three-figure cornering, adding a bedrock of stability into the car’s high-speed handling that allows you to guide it with incredible confidence – and with fairly bold steering inputs.
At lower speeds, however, that stability bias just isn’t present. The Senna feels super-precise, poised and even a little bit adjustable in its handling attitude on a trailing throttle around second- and third-gear corners. The faster you go, the more quickly the car takes an angle, and the more accurate and fast you need to be with your steering corrections, which is inevitably true of something so low to the ground, so grippy and so firmly sprung.
But the Senna even helps you here, to find the steering angle at which those front tyres are running true, by virtue of having an electrohydraulic power steering system that provides absolutely world-class contact-patch feel and, with 2.4 turns between locks, is exactly as direct as it ought to be.