Return to the ‘Lap of the Gods’: Bruno Senna pays tribute to his uncle Ayrton Senna’s iconic opening lap of the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park with a McLaren Senna


The Senna name has returned to Donington Park as one of a series of McLaren milestone moments commemorating Ayrton Senna’s legacy, 30 years after the legendary Formula 1 driver’s final race in May 1994.

Reflecting on Ayrton Senna’s incredible performance at the 1993 European Grand Prix at the Leicestershire, UK, circuit, Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna took to the track in a McLaren Senna hypercar in tribute to his uncle’s epic drive.

Held on 11 April 1993, the Donington Park race is forever memorable not only as the scene of one of Ayrton Senna’s most accomplished race victories, but also what is widely regarded as one of the greatest laps in Formula 1 history.

Driving the McLaren MP4/8 in the increasingly wet conditions that his reputation as a special driver was forged in, Ayrton Senna drove from fifth to first position on the opening lap. Recovering from a poor getaway off the line with exceptional talent and trademark Senna instinctive driving skills, the Brazilian driver went off the conventional racing line in places to pass existing and future world champions in incredible style with individual passes at different parts of the 2.5-mile circuit. This accomplishment, one of Senna’s most imperious performances, has become known as the ‘Lap of the Gods’.

This iconic first tour around the circuit was the beginning of a dominant performance in the race that saw Senna win by more than 1 minute and 23 seconds, lapping all but the secondplaced driver to record the largest margin of victory he achieved in his Formula 1 career.

The race’s lore among fans of Formula 1 and Ayrton Senna also extends to the unconventional winner’s trophy*, which was lifted by the victorious and jubilant Senna on the podium.

The Donington Park race was the exact kind of performance that cemented Ayrton Senna’s legacy as a driver with remarkable abilities who could extend beyond the best of the competition, through total commitment to extract the maximum from his talent and car again and again – an ethos that McLaren remains inspired by three decades later.

Honouring the famous display, Bruno Senna took to the track in the McLaren hypercar that bears the Senna name and channels this complete dedication to on-track performance: the McLaren Senna.

The McLaren Senna is the most extreme road-going McLaren ever built and the most track-oriented of the McLaren Ultimate cars. It stands out not only for its incredible level of performance, but for its ability to create an innate connection between car and driver, wholly appropriate in a car inspired by Ayrton Senna’s driving style.

“Ayrton, on that first lap at Donington Park in 1993, was on another planet, in another dimension to all these different elite drivers. It was an incredible achievement to put on such a drive in such difficult, tricky conditions and against more competitive cars. For me, it’s one of those races that you cannot forget, like Portugal 1985 and Brazil 1991.

“Donington is one of the fun tracks and of course the weather can play a part here, but today was quite different to the 1993 race! In a high downforce, super-lightweight car like the McLaren Senna you can really feel the amazing flow and change of elevation – and of course the speed!

“The McLaren and Senna names are intertwined so, so strongly. Having this work together to bring the McLaren Senna out, a car that definitely would have made Ayrton extremely proud, is a great achievement.”
Bruno Senna, nephew of Ayrton Senna and former Formula 1 driver

With a lightest dry weight of 1,198kg, enabled by its carbon fibre Monocage III chassis and body panels, in combination with the 800PS power output from its 4.0-litre twin-turbo V8 engine, the McLaren Senna has a power-to-weight ratio of an astonishing 668PS-per-tonne (659bhp). The extreme aerodynamic package of McLaren’s most track-orientated Ultimate car includes active elements front and rear, capable of generating up to 800kg of downforce, while motorsport-derived brakes provide unprecedented stopping power: braking from 200km/h (124mph) to a standstill is achieved in just 100 metres.

The tribute film can be seen here:

Bruno echoed his uncle’s exploits, taking the McLaren Senna around the circuit in 1m30.5s to set a new unofficial lap record for a road-going production car on the same Donington Park Grand Prix configuration at which Ayrton was famously victorious.

“Ayrton was a master of displays of incredible performance created through sheer dedication to his craft, always seeking perfection. This tenacious drive for only the best made him a perfect fit for McLaren, where this ethos endures in everything we do on road and on track. To create a new piece of history linking Senna to Donington, with his nephew Bruno in the car named after and inspired by Ayrton’s legacy, is a special moment.” – Michael Leiters, Chief Executive Officer, McLaren Automotive

McLaren enthusiasts and fans wanting to know more about the McLaren Senna, which was also available in GTR and GTR LM versions, can find information at

McLaren Senna Photo Gallery

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