Skip to main content

McLaren-Honda MP4/4

McLaren-Honda MP4/4 1980s F1 car

Race for race, the McLaren MP4/4 is the most successful F1 car of all time! Then again, it could not have had two more able drivers. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were the pick of the paddock - and among the crème de la crème in the whole history of motorsport. Throughout the 1988 season, the pair extracted the max from the MP4/4. Well, almost! Between them, they won 15 times from 16 starts - with just the Italian GP eluding them. Senna was bamboozled by a back-marker - and with Prost also out, victory at Monza was not to be.

McLaren began the '88 campaign with mixed emotions. In the plus column, they had secured Honda as an engine supplier. The year before, the Japanese giant had helped arch-rivals Williams win the World Championship. But, in the minus column, McLaren had lost ace designer John Barnard. Given that he had sculpted every McLaren since '81, he would inevitably be sorely missed. Steve Nichols and Neil Oatley stepped up to the high-tech plate Barnard had vacated. The previous year's car - the MP4/3 - had been powered by Porsche. The new Honda engine was also a V-6 - so similarly configured. That allowed Barnard's replacements to stick with the tried and trusted aerodynamics of the MP4/3. The only visible change was a narrower cockpit.

'88 would be the last hurrah for turbocharged engines. The F1 powers that be had decreed that henceforth they would be banned. Notwithstanding, Honda in no way shirked their responsibilities. They wrung every last drop out of the soon to be obsolete engine. Indeed, they provided two versions - the XE2 and XE3 - to be toggled according to circuit layout. Possibly as a result of all this extra preparation, Mclaren were late for pre-season testing. If that caused their rivals to chuckle, the mirth was short-lived. McLaren finally fired up the new engines - and sent the cars out. In short order, they had laid waste to the opposition! Come the first race - and it was simply more of the same. McLaren dominated in every department - as testified by that near-perfect score at the end of the season. Senna and Prost were nigh on unbeatable that year ... stymied only by that unyielding back-marker, at Monza. So, the McLaren MP4/4 was the greatest GP car ever ... well, statistically-speaking, at any rate!


  1. Hi there! Someone in my Myspace group shared this website with
    us so I came to take a look. I'm definitely loving the information. I'm book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!
    Fantastic blog and fantastic style and design. Hi there, I check your blog daily.

    Your story-telling style is awesome, keep up the good work!
    I have been browsing on-line greater than three
    hours as of late, yet I never discovered any interesting article
    like yours. It is lovely price sufficient for me.

    In my opinion, if all web owners and bloggers made just right content as you probably did, the net will likely be a lot more useful than ever before.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

FN Four

In terms of breakthroughs in the history of motorcycling, there cannot be many to rival the first in-line four engine. Belgium was the birthplace of this landmark layout. FN was the much-to-be-thanked manufacturer.The FN Four first hit the highway in 1911. It produced 4bhp. That, from a 491 cc capacity. At the time, such figures described state-of-the-art technology. Top speed for the FN Four was 40mph. Not bad - for an 8-valve inlet-over-exhaust set-up. Oh, it was air-cooled.The FN Four was light - tipping the scales at 165lb dry. Not only the motor, but the chassis, too, was avant-garde. It featured an early form of telescopic forks. A new-fangled clutch - and 2-speed 'box - only added to the FN Four's slick box of tricks. Solid shaft-drive output the power. Who, then, designed this visionary vintage? You will not hear the name Paul Kelekom shouted from motorcycling's rooftops. But, you should - for it was he who fashioned the FN Four. In so doing, he ki…

Gilera Saturno

Gilera was a big player in the realm of 1950s motorbike manufacturing. After that, the firm met with mixed fortunes. Gilera's Fifties flagship - the Saturno - was launched in '46. Rolled out in 'Sport', 'Touring', and 'Competition' modes, the Saturno would sell well for years.The Saturno 'production racer' was a hit both on road and track. Competitive for many seasons, it remained so for some time after its production run finished - at the fag-end of the '50s.In road-going form, the Saturno stayed tethered to the tarmac - thanks to its telescopic forks, and vertical rear shocks. Indeed, it would gain a reputation as a 'performance bike' of its day. Towards the end, Gilera was linked with Piaggio, Vespa - and the scooter scene, generally. Illustrious though those names still were, Gilera's glory days were behind it. Bikes like the Saturno, though, still shone a light for past success.

NSU Ro80

The styling of the NSU Ro80 was ahead of its time. At first glance, masses of glass were straight out of science-fiction. Closer inspection revealed the gently rising line of its profile - giving it a low front, high back stance - which would influence automotive design for years to come. The 5-seater body was supremely aerodynamic for a saloon car - making cruising at speed a breeze. So flawless was it outwardly that it was hardly touched in ten years of production. Just the tail-lights were modified, on later versions.The Ro80's handling was equally impressive. FWD - and precision power-steering - kept it perfectly pointed. The long-travel strut suspension soaked up bumps. High-efficiency disc brakes were fitted all round. The 3-speed semi-automatic transmission swept through the gears with aplomb. Top speed was a sound 112mph.But, of course, nothing is perfect. The Ro80 was powered by a twin-rotor Wankel engine. Unfortunately - in a rush to get the car into showroom…