Prime
Formula 1 Analysis

The V12 experiment that powered Senna to his final F1 title

By:

Formula 1 fans remember V12 engines fondly but only one has powered a driver to the world championship. STUART CODLING recalls McLaren's MP4/6, with which Ayrton Senna secured the 1991 crown 30 years ago...

World championship history documents an almost seamless span of McLaren dominance between 1984 and 1991, a period bookended – coincidentally – by McLaren drivers taking their third and final world titles: Niki Lauda in 1984, Ayrton Senna in 1991. In hindsight as well as in period, it's tempting to view such long-running excellence as virtually inevitable, a consequence of deep pockets furnishing top engineers and drivers with the best of everything.

As with the current pre-eminence of Mercedes, it's also easy to overlook how challenging it is for a team to maintain that peak. But by the middle of 1990 McLaren was an organisation which, if not in crisis, was painfully aware of how quickly its opposition was catching up, and how much work lay ahead to keep the intensely competitive Senna satisfied he had the best machinery on the grid.

shares
comments

Related video

The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight Prime

The underdog F1 squad that thrust Senna into the limelight

The Toleman TG184 was the car that could, according to legend, have given Ayrton Senna his first F1 win but for Alain Prost and Jacky Ickx at Monaco in 1984. That could be stretching the boundaries of the truth a little, but as STUART CODLING explains, the team's greatest legacy was in giving the Brazilian prodigy passed over by bigger outfits an opportunity

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes Prime

Why Aston Martin is unlikely to repeat Jaguar’s F1 mistakes

Two famous manufacturer teams born out of humble midfield origins, splashing the cash while attempting to rise to the top of F1 in record time. There are clear parallels between Lawrence Stroll’s Aston Martin and the doomed Jaguar Racing project of 22 years ago, but Mark Gallagher believes struggling Aston can avoid a similar fate.

Formula 1
May 15, 2022
How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo Prime

How rejuvenated Haas recovered its F1 mojo

US-owned but until recently Russian-backed, Haas seems to have reached a turning point in car performance after three gruesome seasons. And it needs to if it’s to attract fresh investment. Team boss Gunther Steiner tells Oleg Karpov how close Haas came to the abyss.

Formula 1
May 14, 2022
How F1 race leaders have now lost their comfort blanket Prime

How F1 race leaders have now lost their comfort blanket

As Formula 1 teams have settled down in understanding the new generation of cars and the way they need to maximise their performance, fresh lessons have emerged. Jonathan Noble investigates how they have brought with them an all-new kind of grand prix racing

Formula 1
May 12, 2022
Gilles Villeneuve's 10 greatest F1 drives Prime

Gilles Villeneuve's 10 greatest F1 drives

Formula 1 lost one of its brightest stars when Gilles Villeneuve was killed during practice for the 1982 Belgian Grand Prix. Forty years on, Motorsport.com picks out the greatest drives by a Ferrari legend

Formula 1
May 11, 2022
The silver lining of Ferrari’s Miami GP defeat Prime

The silver lining of Ferrari’s Miami GP defeat

OPINION: Much was made of Formula 1’s first Miami Grand Prix – what turned out to be a very ‘marmite’ event for both those in attendance and everyone following on TV. But even as the on-track battle between Red Bull and Ferrari it produced continued the negative run of results for the red team, it contained a glimmer it must hope continues to shine

Formula 1
May 11, 2022
How imperfect Miami offered F1's drivers a unique challenge Prime

How imperfect Miami offered F1's drivers a unique challenge

OPINION: Despite all of the stylistic embellishments festooning Formula 1's inaugural Miami Grand Prix, the Miami International Autodrome offered the drivers a unique challenge and punished driver errors; a stark contrast to the usual cast of modern-day circuits

Formula 1
May 10, 2022
Why F1’s turbulent relationship with Russia is nothing new Prime

Why F1’s turbulent relationship with Russia is nothing new

Russia’s involvement in Formula 1 has been big on promise but short on delivery – then reached the end of the road prematurely. MARK GALLAGHER investigates why

Formula 1
May 10, 2022
Former Mercedes boss Hubbert dies aged 81
Previous article

Former Mercedes boss Hubbert dies aged 81

Next article

Verstappen: Red Bull could have dominated F1 like Mercedes

Verstappen: Red Bull could have dominated F1 like Mercedes
Load comments