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Ayrton Senna driving the McLaren MP4-8 during practice for the 1993 British Grand Prix. Photo: Martin Lee[/caption]
The ex-Ayrton Senna, record-setting, final Monaco Grand Prix-winning, 1993 McLaren-Ford MP4/8A Formula 1 racing single-seater is to be offered at Bonhams Monaco sale on May 11 – the 25th anniversary of its record-breaking Monte Carlo victory. The car will be on view at Le Grand Palais, Paris, on February 6-8, the auction house announced.
This startlingly well-preserved, running-order Formula 1 car won the 1993 Monaco Grand Prix in the hands of the legendary Brazilian three-time Formula 1 World Champion Driver, rated by many as the greatest of all time. Ayrton Senna won a record six editions of the prestigious round-the-houses Monaco Grand Prix.
Mark Osborne, Bonhams Global Head of Motorsport, said: “Ayrton Senna was the most charismatic Grand Prix car driver of the modern era, and the MP4/8A was the car with which his team, McLaren, surpassed Ferrari as the most successful team in Formula 1 World Championship history.
“This particular chassis, number 6, cemented Senna's legend as The Master of Monaco. We at Bonhams are both honoured and thrilled to be presenting one of the most significant Grand Prix cars of all time. It is his Monaco winner, it is a runner, and now it could be yours.”
The 1993 season was Senna's last with McLaren. The great team had just ended its long and successful partnership with Honda for engine supply, and would link up with Peugeot in a new Formula 1 racing partnership from 1994. For the interim 1993 season, a last-minute agreement had been struck with Ford to run their Cosworth-built 'HB' V8 engines on loan. Ayrton Senna was initially sceptical that these compact Ford V8 engines would be able to compete with the dominant Renault V10s as deployed by the Williams team, led by the Brazilian's former teammate and deadly rival, Alain Prost.
Senna consented to remain with McLaren on a race-by-race basis, in return for a rumoured $1-million fee for every start. However, the team's latest McLaren-Ford MP4/8A model (like chassis '6' now being offered by Bonhams) demonstrated such technological and mechanical sophistication that by season's end, it was one of the most competitive of all contemporary Grand Prix car designs.
Ayrton drove this actual car – the McLaren-Ford MP4/8 chassis number 6 – in no fewer than eight of the 1993 season's Formula 1 World Championship-qualifying Grand Prix races. In his debut with the brand new car at Barcelona's Spanish Grand Prix he immediately finished second overall, headed only by Alain Prost's Williams-Renault.
For the following Monaco Grand Prix, he experienced an apparent problem with the car's ultra-modern “active” suspension system, which sparked a violent crash into the barriers at Sainte Devote corner.
The incident unfolded so suddenly that even Senna was unable to let go of the steering wheel in time, and the impact painfully injured his thumb. Chassis 6 was then repaired in time for Saturday running, and he qualified third fastest behind Prost's Williams-Renault on pole and Michael Schumacher's Benetton-Ford second.
Prost then jumped the start, incurring a 10-second stop-go penalty, to be served in the pit lane. Schumacher then led the race from Senna until lap 33, when the Benetton-Ford retired with hydraulic failure. Senna promptly took control of the great race, 15 seconds ahead of Damon Hill's Williams-Renault. As the great Brazilian took the Monaco chequered flag for his sixth time, he broke Graham Hill's record for the most Monaco GP victories, set back in 1969.