Ayrton Senna testing the McLaren Lambo at Silverstone ‘in secret’ 20 September 1993…
By Sennas’ standards 1993 had not been a successful year. He won five races in his McLaren Ford as a customer Cosworth user, Schumachers’ Benetton with the more powerful factory Ford Cosworth engines only won a single event.
Even worse, arch rival Alain Prost won the title for Williams Renault.
Scrambling to find an engine deal to keep its star driver happy and with the team for 1994, Ron Dennis signed a test contract with Chrysler who then owned Lamborghini.
McLaren modified one of its MP4/8 Ford chassis to take the jewel like little 3.5 litre V12.
Senna tested the car at Silverstone twice, and wanted to race it in Japan but Dennis would not allow it given the contractual arrangements already in place with sponsors and the like.
Mika Hakkinen was the teams test driver that year, Sennas’ race teammate Michael Andretti. Hakkinen was also faster in the Lambo than Ford engined car.
Senna suggested to the engines designer, Ferrari legend Mauro Forghieri, that the V12 would be better with a less brutal top end and more mid range torque, these changes were made, the engine producing around 750bhp.
Prost resigned, Senna won the last two races of 1993, Australia and Japan in his MP4/8 Ford, McLaren did a deal with Peugeot and Senna went to Williams for 1994…and the rest as they say is history, a sad one at that.