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“I want to drive a Senna... to ap­pre­ci­ate the work that’s gone into it and smile at how fun it is to hoon on a track”

You have to be care­ful how you go about ex­press­ing the fol­low­ing sen­ti­ment if you are me, but I have to ad­mit that I am not es­pe­cially both­ered about the McLaren Senna. I look for­ward to driv­ing one fast around a cir­cuit and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing all of that tech­nol­ogy and whoop­ing at the thrust and wheez­ing at the grip and all that jazz. But I wouldn’t want to own one. I mean – what would you do with the bloody thing?

Track days? You’re having a laugh, right? I as­sume that’s what the Senna has been de­signed to do, but I’m not sure a £750k sliver of car­bon is the best thing to use when pound­ing around the Silverstone Na­tional cir­cuit among the E92 M3s. The stupidly ex­pen­sive track car is among the more id­i­otic in­ven­tions our species has ever con­ceived: a ma­chine that’s too ex­treme to be used as a road car but which car­ries most of the key draw­backs of be­ing road-reg­is­tra­ble – chief among them a road tyre – to the very cir­cuit it is sup­posed to be dom­i­nat­ing.

Let’s de­bunk the whole Senna be­ing quicker than a GT3 race­car thing as well. McLaren is mak­ing much noise about this be­ing the case, but it just isn’t. The car was launched at Es­to­ril and laps in 1min 41secs. A 650S GT3 on slicks set a 1min 36secs in qual­i­fy­ing last year. I sup­pose you could just bung slicks on your Senna, but then it be­comes a race­car. At which point you might as well just buy a rac­ing car.

Maybe just know­ing how fan­tas­ti­cally fast and down­forcy the Senna could be is enough to make driv­ing it on the road thrilling? And let’s face it, McLaren makes the best street-car chas­sis by a coun­try mile.

A bit like know­ing you have deadly ninja skills but choos­ing not to de­ploy them when mat­ters turn heated near the cold meats sec­tion in Waitrose. I can just about buy the no­tion, but at that point, the Senna needs to do the same as any other su­per-sled and jus­tify it­self through looks and beauty. It needs to look good – and any­one who tells you that the Senna looks good is in need of med­i­cal help.

The Senna is ac­tu­ally an ex­pres­sion of the wild de­vel­op­ments in sports car de­sign wit­nessed over the past decade. From the nadir of 2009, when the very ex­is­tence of fast cars was in doubt, we now have peo­ple pay­ing £100k over list price for the chance to buy one of the ugli­est cars ever built, whose rai­son d’être will prob­a­bly never be ex­pe­ri­enced be­cause do­ing so would harm its value. A friend of mine who knows noth­ing about cars but had heard how over­heated the fast-car mar­ket had be­come, asked me to ex­plain how some­thing like the Senna worked – why you’d buy one, what you’d do with it. By the time I’d fin­ished, he looked to­tally per­plexed. “It’s to­tal mad­ness.” He’s right. Viewed as an out­sider, the su­per­car mar­ket is like some dystopian Tru­man Show in which a few thou­sand very rich peo­ple have been hood­winked and are be­ing or­ches­trated by a few car com­pa­nies for their own evil means.

But I still want to drive a Senna. Still want to ap­pre­ci­ate all the work that has gone into mak­ing it and smile at how much fun it is to hoon fast, on a track. But these ul­tra­road-track-cars are be­gin­ning to leave me cold. The 488

Pista, in be­ing less track-ob­sessed, wor­ries me less, and yes

I do think the world is a bet­ter place when these mad ma­chines sim­ply ex­ist. Equally, I think it’s uned­i­fy­ing that the main rea­son for own­ing a Senna ap­pears to be in or­der to ren­der your­self able to tell other peo­ple

that you, er, own a Senna.

“I want to drive a Senna... to ap­pre­ci­ate the work that’s gone into it and smile at how fun it is to hoon on a track”

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