Car Spotlight>> Senna’s Mclaren Mp4/5b

The 1989 Formula One season was the first season where the cars returned to the now traditional normally aspirated engines. Forced to abandon the incredible 1.5 litre Honda RA168E twin-turbocharged engine – which made an astounding 900BHP – the Woking team needed a new car to accomodate the new 3.5 litre Honda RA109E V10 unit but still match the incredible results of 1988’s MP4/4 where Prost and Senna managed ten 1-2 finishes and Senna was crowned 1988 F1 World Champion.

McLaren developed the MP4/5 for the 1989 season and I don’t think anyone could have predicted the success the 4/5 would have in its inaugural season. However, the success of the MP4/5 – ten wins from sixteen and fifteen pole positions – was somewhat overshadowed by the on and off track disputes between Prost and Senna.

In 1990, Prost – now the reigning world champion – would move to Ferrari along with McLaren designer Steve Nicholls whilst Gordon Murray would begin to focus on the McLaren F1 road car project. With such big changes in the staff, McLaren decided to use the MP4/5 once again but in a sort of evolution form where the team would try and improve upon the 1989 Drivers and Constructors World Championship winning car.

Honda provided a slightly revised V10 engine pushing power from 685BHP to 690BHP with the overall weight remaining at 500KG / 1102LB which resulted in approximately 1,380BHP per tonne of weight.

Aerodynamically the car used larger side pods and revamped radiator ducting to assist cooling of the RA100E power plant.

Although the car suited Senna quite well, McLaren’s new signing Gerhard Berger was too tall for the car – a problem which was resolved by sitting Berger more upright in the car. A new windscreen was also installed on the car to account for this change.

Another notable improvement was a revision of the transverse six speed gearbox and a larger fuel cell.

Of course as the season progressed, more changes were made to the cars including a new underbody and new aerodynamic pieces.

What did all these improvements account for? Twelve pole positions between Senna and Berger, six wins for Senna, another world championship for Senna and a third successive constructor’s title for McLaren.

McLaren and Senna continued their successful partnership into the 1991 season with another pair of world championship titles behind the wheel of the Honda V12 powered MP4/6 but complaints from Senna that the Honda engine was lacking were justified during the 1992 season as McLaren could do nothing except watch Williams with Nigel Mansell walk to the ’92 titles.

Senna’s last win would be behind the wheel of a McLaren at the final round of the 1993 World Championship in Australia before he moved to Williams for the 1994 season.

The pairing of McLaren and Ayrton Senna is arguably one of the greatest of all time, perhaps only bettered by that of Ferrari and Schumacher but I don’t believe that a fair comparison can ever be made between the two because of Senna’s death at San Marino in 1994.

We will just never know what Senna had left to show us.

Paddy McGrath

John Brooks writes about Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna on Speedhunters

McLaren on Speedhunters

Formula 1 on Speedhunters



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senna was truly the greatest f1 driver of his time.


The B spec is my favorite formula 1 car, the plan view of the side pods is so strikingly different from it's the MP4/5 just a year earlier. The MP4/6 seems to get the most attention, maybe because Honda was so proud to create a V12 to fight Ferrari. The 5B is much prettier though, and you HAVE to love the strange cow catcher looking carbon windscreen to stop buffeting that came about towards the end of the season (Not in the photographs of this chassis.)


Senna = the BEST. EVER.


Get the bluray delivered today. Can't wait to watch it again. Senna FTW


Well, the images didn't work for me, but still turned out to be a great read!


Photos aren't working.


The white and red Mclaren with a Yellow helmet, not something you want to see in your rear veiw mirror during a race. Also gotta love that manual stick shift for some old fashion heel, toe goodness!




Awesome, thanks for the spotlight, Paddy! If it's one thing I absolutely love, it's F1 history.


@ D1RGE.EXE: agreed.

Poor Berger though, he must have been so uncomfortable in that car because he was so much bigger than Senna and he was the one the car was built around. Especially at Monaco where he had to drive Senna's car. That was an amazing btw imo.


yeah...i'm the first!! but i dun see any pics!! DAMN


pics not loading for anyone else?


Icant see any pictures. IDK weather thats your fault or my computers


Senna = the BEST EVER


I guess all of us would agree that all the F1 drivers that we have now will have chills on their spines when they see Ayrton Senna qualifying, and being on the grid competing against them. Senna is one of the toughest opponent that you can have. Only when you have the toughest opponent can all your skills and talent be revealed for the world to see.


Wikipedia is one hell of a resource !


To be honest, I only used Wikipedia to double check championship standings and pole positions. The rest was researched the old fashioned way - books and seat time. I have to ask, you never seem to contribute anything positive so why do you keep coming back to post negative remarks? You never even bother to justify your view either. We don't charge anything for you or anyone else to come and view the site and everyone of us puts in a hell of an effort to make Speedhunters what it is. If you don't like what you see - tell us why but please stop posting sly one-liner comments after the stories - PMcG 


Senna....F1's greatest ever driver.

may we have some desktops of the legendary car??


Here is my constructive criticism:

Because it is UNDERSTOOD by now that you (and ALL the speedhunters staff) go thru "research the old fashioned way-books and seat time" ALL the time, EVERY time !

We ALL (Speedhunters readers) could do the exact same research. (we have all internet access, so looking up Senna's victories and championships shouldn't be too hard).

What you SP staff do (for the most part) is posting up stuff that has already been discussed one million times in one million blogs before.

And the "news" you post, are actually taken from other blogs. In other words, NOTHING new. It's just restating someone's else idea/ comment.

You and all the SP staff try to appeal to this audience with material that has been covered time and time again by many other blogs.

In other words, the stuff that you guys post is hardly a news.

If I were to criticize this particularly post, you HAD to research the material (because you were not born during Senna's prime). Isn't it something we ALL could do? Isn't Senna a topic that has been beaten to death already? How original is that?

The is so much information on the internet. I guess LOTS of readers don't do much research these days.

You want another negative point Patrick? How often you guys reply to people's comments? NEVER ! You and everyone else that work for SP HARDLY ever reply to people's comments on here (unless like me, is someone that pisses you off).

People on here try to engage in a conversation and actually learn something from you guys, and you fail to understand that. YOU are the one that goes to car shows, YOU are the one that goes to car races. Show some respect to people and answer their question. Otherwise, don't bother posting !

You want another point? You guys HARDLY post anything in the weekend ! Why? because you are paid minimum wage and don't give a fvck about working on this site in the weekend. (if there's an important race/ car-meet or event), you post the facts on the following Monday. AGAIN, not a news. By then many other blogs already talked about it.

The amount of "news" you guys post in the weekend is far less than the ones during the week !

Which brings me to the next topic: if you guys are so "car-fanatics", like myself, you would work around the clock 24/7, unfortunately you don't. Excuses like "time to hit the sack", or "the jetlag kicks in"....I've heard that too many times.

How about posts that talk about yourself (the Speedhunters' staff) rather than the cars? I (like many others) could care less about YOUR life. I come on here to read about CARS and NEWS from the automotive world.

If you feel like Facebook and Twitters are not good-enough tools to expand your social network, I suggest you start your own blog like many others; so you can post all the sh!t you want. Stick to cars and news.

Last but not least, what happened to your post about your Caddy? I asked you that question before and I didn't get an answer. Mind to clarify?


desktops of all photos, please..!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


no photos showing the whole car?


this spotlight was long overdue. thank you!


Check out the Personal steering wheel! *drool*


I think this form & shape is the best any F1 cars have ever looked. So menacing, simple and elegant at the same time.


"...hardly a news."

That's as far as I got..XD


Epic car... Epic driver!


Great post!


Awesome congrats speedhunters, great post, i just hope to see more pics.. also a cover about senna


JDMized? Get a grip....

" if you guys are so "car-fanatics", like myself, you would work around the clock 24/7, unfortunately you don't. Excuses like "time to hit the sack", or "the jetlag kicks in"....I've heard that too many times."

Seriously? You actually work 24/7 for someone else as an employee. You don't sleep, eat ,rest and only get paid for 40% of your working time?


and if you did, you wouldn't have time to post stupid lame troll rants like that one.

This is not like a traditional magazine where the journos have a whole month to write the copy, research, proof-read and QA.

So if you think you can do better........ step up....... or shut up.


I'd like it if the bloggers interacted more with the comments! Thanks for the write up. It's nice to have all the information in one spot :)



Exactly lol


"when you no longer go for a gap that is there you are no longer a racing driver" (Senna)

Greatest F1 driver thus far.


The photog for this post definitely didn't capture the car very well because I'm left wanting to see much much much much more.


I'd like it if the bloggers interacted more with the comments! Thanks for the write up. It's nice to have all the information in one spot :)


JDMized, you are an absolute moron! I love this site, found it about 6 months ago and rates as the best find of all time! I don't care if there are a million articles on senna out there, he deserves one million and one and speedhunters is where I want to read it!


Gareth, you found this site 6 months ago?

Did u live under a rock? Let me guess, you just started to get interested in cars, and you heard that Senna was an epic driver, lol


First of all, apologies for the delay in getting back to you all.

JDMized has raised some good points and I'm glad he / she took the time to write them down. How could I or anyone else have ever interpreted your original post of 'Wikipedia is one hell of a resource !' as what you had to say when called out on it.

I'll personally take on-board your points about engaging with the readers more, lack of posts on the weekends and I'll try and do something about it in the future.

I don't agree with you saying that we basically just re-hash other stories as that is complete and utter bullshit. We always strive to bring the best and most original content to our readers. Why not take a look at John Brooks' story (linked at the bottom of the above story) where he talks about watching Senna in his early days? What about the Speedhunter who is a former member of McLaren staff and contributed some fascinating insights to the McLaren world earlier in the year? We all work very, very hard and will continue to do so. There is a lot more to working on Speedhunters than just the stories that appear here on the site.

I'll leave you with this - if you can't play nice and interact with other readers in a calm and mature way, your posts will be removed. This isn't just for you but for any other people who think it's a free for all here in the comments section. If you don't like something, tell us why but trolling and looking for a reaction will no longer be entertained.

To answer other questions regarding the above story - the car is located as you may know in the Donington GP Collection in the UK. Access to the car is very limited so we were restricted to what we could do photography wise. There are plenty of images of the MP4/5B in action on the net if you search for them but due to copyright laws we can't use them.




Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren.
Ich wende mich als Mofellbauer an Sie. Ich habe in Web schon einige Fotos &links gefunden. Leider fehlen mir noch immer einige Detailbilder des MP4-5B des Jahres 1990.Verkabelung,Ölleitungen, usw. Wo sie angeschlossen werden &verlegt werden. Vielleicht können Sie mir bei meinem Problem weiterhelfen. Die Bilder bleiben natürlich in meinem Besitz &werden nicht an Dritte weitergeben.
Seelos Martin