In Depth

Master of Monaco: Ayrton Senna’s 1993 McLaren F1 car heads to auction

Here’s your chance to own a piece of motor racing history

Every Formula One driver wants to stand on the top of the podium at the world famous Monaco Grand Prix. It’s a gruelling event, where a small mistake on one of the course’s 19 barrier-lined corners can end a driver’s chances.

It’s a race that often highlights the brilliance of a particular driver and car. Those who have won the Monaco Grand Prix on more than one occasion include Alain Prost, Graham Hill and Michael Schumacher.

But the legendary Ayrton Senna has taken more victories on the principality’s streets than any other driver. In 1993, the Brazilian driver took his sixth and final Monaco win behind the wheel of his McLaren MP4/8.

While Senna missed out on the title to Williams driver and arch rival Alain Prost, his McLaren was one of the most competitive cars over the season - and it’s now headed to auction through Bonhams in May. 

This particular McLaren MP4/8 is chassis number six, the car that Senna drove to beat Britain’s Damon Hill to victory at the 1993 Monaco Grand Prix. This chassis made its debut at the Spanish GP that year and was also used at the Canadian, French, British, Belgian and Italian GPs. 

The end of the 1992 season saw McLaren finish its highly successful engine partnership with Honda. Without a long-term engine supplier waiting in the wings, Ford loaned the F1 team a Cosworth-developed V8 motor for the 1993 car.

Senna was unsure of the Ford engine’s pace compared to the Renault V10 that powered the dominant Williams cars. It’s believed the triple world champion asked McLaren’s team principal, Ron Dennis, for a race-by-race contract at $1m (£700,000) per grand prix. 

But the Ford proved to be a match for the Renault V10, helping Senna to five race wins and second place in the championship in what would be his final season at McLaren. 

The MP4/8 is also one of the most technologically advanced F1 cars of all time, as it was developed in a period when technical regulations were far more open than they are today. This particular car features traction control, a semi-automatic gearbox and active suspension that raises and lowers the vehicle’s ride height throughout a race. 

Chassis number six ended its competitive life as a spare car for the 1993 Japanese and Australian GPs. Over the past 25 years, Bonhams says the car has been “startlingly well-preserved” and is in running order. 

So if you’re in the market for a piece of F1 history, visit the Bonhams Monaco sale on 11 May in Monte Carlo. The auctioneer has not listed a reserve price, but Evo says it could match the $7.5m (£5.3m) achieved by Michael Schumacher’s Monaco-winning Ferrari last year.

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