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A McLaren MP4/5B driven by Senna is for sale

by Jon Burgess
24 May 2022 2 min read
A McLaren MP4/5B driven by Senna is for sale
Berger gave chassis three its best result, taking third at 1990's Monaco GP. Photos: Rob Cooper and Girardo & Co Archive

A McLaren MP4/5B once used as a spare car by Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger in the 1990 Formula One World Championship has come to market. However, before anyone considers selling their worldly possessions or remortgaging their home, Girardo & Co, the company handling the sale, say it’s price on application – and you know what they say about having to ask about the price of something…

The Oxford-based agent claims that it’s the first time a McLaren MP4/5B has been presented for public sale. This MP4/5B is Woking’s third chassis out of seven models built, and was used as a back-up car (often referred to in the sport as a ‘T-car’) during races in Phoenix (USA), Brazil, and San Marino.

For the fourth round of the 1990 Formula One World Championship, in Monaco, however, it took on a new role as Senna’s free practice vehicle.

Senna used the chassis so extensively that he had it set up to his own requirements – before going back to his own car, chassis seven, that ended up first in the side of Alain Prost and then in the gravel at Suzuka securing Senna that year’s drivers’ title.

Ayrton Senna, Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, 1990 Monaco

Spool back to Monaco, however, and while Senna did drive the car, he quickly returned to his own chassis.

His teammate Gerhard Berger did need the T-car, however. Berger had gone off at the Mirabeau corner earlier in the race, taking Prost with him. With his own MP4/5B (chassis four) out of action, Berger settled for the back-up car, set up for Senna, and placed third, giving chassis three its only podium finish.

As the F1 circus decamped to Montreal for the next event on the calendar, at Canada’s Circuit de Gilles Villeneuve, chassis three’s role at McLaren changed. For a year, it became a rolling test bed for active suspension and sequential gearboxes. Allan McNish, Jonathan Palmer and Stefan Johansson drove it, too, throughout its later career as a development chassis.

In 2017, it was sold into private hands. Its new owner, keen to see it to returned to its former glory, entrusted Lanzante Limited, the firm which ran the 1995 24 Hours of Le Mans-winning Ueno Clinic F1 GTR on McLaren’s behalf, to revive the MP4/5B.

Max Girardo, of Girardo & Co, said: “In our opinion, the late-1980s and early-1990s were peak Formula 1. And this sensational privately owned McLaren MP4/5B – which scored a podium finish in the world’s most famous Grand Prix in addition to being driven extensively by the mercurial Ayrton Senna – perfectly embodies that magic. It goes without saying that it is an honour to be handling the sale of this car.”

Read more

Netflix to document the life of Ayrton Senna in new miniseries
The art of selling the first Ferrari F1 car driven by Michael Schumacher
“I want to find out for myself” – I was there the day Ayrton Senna went rallying

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