McLaren MP4/6

McLaren MP4/6

by Luca Dal Monte

It is the car with which Ayrton Senna won his third and final Formula One World Championship title. And it’s the car with which the Brazilian and his teammate gave McLaren their seventh Constructors’ World Championship title.

The major innovation of the MP4/6 is the 12-cylinder Honda engine, which replaces the 10-cylinder used by the Woking team in previous seasons. Gerhard Berger, entrusted with winter development tests while Senna takes his customary break in Brazil between seasons, is initially not particularly impressed by the characteristics of the new engine. However, the extensive work done on the track during the winter between 1990 and 1991 pays off, and at the beginning of the new racing season, the MP4/6 is immediately competitive, with Senna winning the first four races in a row.

McLaren MP4/6 Image 1


Ayrton Senna: 1991 is his final championship season. Ayrton wins seven Grand Prix races in Phoenix, Interlagos, Imola, Montreal, Budapest, Spa, and Adelaide. He finishes second on the podium at Monza, Estoril, and Suzuka; and third in Mexico City and Magny-Cours. He achieves eight personal pole positions and sets two fastest laps in races. The car he has at his disposal is probably not the best in the field, but the Brazilian champion is undoubtedly the best driver around. His third personal World Championship title.

Gerhard Berger: An excellent season for the Austrian driver in his second season alongside a driver whom many consider one of the best – if not the best – of all time. Gerhard wins only one race, the Australian Grand Prix that concludes the season, but he finishes on the podium five times. He secures two pole positions during the season, in Barcelona and Suzuka. He also sets two fastest laps in races, at Imola and Adelaide.

Our model cars:

McLaren MP4/6 Image 2

The project is entrusted to English engineer Neil Oatley. The car is relatively conventional compared to McLaren’s history and its competitors in that season – for example, instead of the semi-automatic gearbox mounted by Ferrari and Williams, the MP4/6 is equipped with a traditional six-speed manual gearbox. Unlike other top cars of that season, the MP4/6 still features a sloping nose instead of the raised solution preferred by other constructors.

The MP4/6 competes in 18 races in the 1991 season, winning eight of them for a total of 19 podiums. Adding to its impressive record are 10 pole positions and 4 fastest laps in races. It secures the Drivers’ World Championship with Senna and the Constructors’ World Championship.