The McLaren MP4/5B Was Perfectly Suited For Ayrton Senna

  • McLaren Honda MP4/5B cars mp4 v12 mp44 1991 formula mp46

The McLaren MP4/5B was the car that won both Formula 1 Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championship titles in 1990.

Slightly modified version of the 1989 car

This car was a modified version of the highly successful McLaren MP4/5 Honda that also won both trophies in the previous F1 season. McLaren’s chief designer Steve Nichols left the team at the end of 1989, together with the reigning champion Alain Prost, while Gordon Murray began to focus on the McLaren F1 road car project. That’s why Neil Oatley and his team decided just to develop and redesign the old model and they, again, did a great job.

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/5b Honda

Ayrton Senna in McLaren MP4/5B Honda

Turbo engines were banned from 1989 so the Japanese manufacturer worked hard on developing a new power unit and it proved to be very good in its first year. That’s why only some minor changes were done before the start of 1990 campaign. The monocoque design also was slightly changed and further developments were made to the aerodynamics and gearbox.

Berger arrived to replace Prost

The Austrian driver Gerhard Berger was chosen as a replacement for Alain Prost and he was a very good backup to Ayrton Senna, even after he was too tall for this car. The Brazilian driver won the title that year, his second with McLaren, while the Woking-based team won its 8th Constructors’ Championship title. However, the McLaren MP4/5B wasn’t as dominant as it was MP4/5 in the previous season.

McLaren, Honda, F1 team, MP45

McLaren – Honda F1 team, 1990

Senna  secured his second title after crash with his biggest rival

Senna won 6 out of 16 races that year and had other five podium finishes but also recorded four retirements. The final stage of the season could be especially critical after Senna retired from the last three races. However, he secured the title in the penultimate round of the campaign in Japan. Interestingly, the decisive moment was a first-lap crash between Senna and Prost, former teammates and biggest rivals during 1990.

1990, Ayrton Senna, Marlboro McLaren-Honda MP4/5B

Ayrton Senna, Marlboro McLaren-Honda MP4/5B, 1990

On the other side Berger failed to score a single win but earned valuable points for the Constructors’ Championship title. He recorded seven podium places over the year and picked points on other four occasions. At the end of the season McLaren was 11 points ahead of Ferrari while the third-placed Benetton was 50 points behind the champions.

Video – Gerhard Berger in McLaren MP4/5B at Jerez Circuit

McLaren MP4/5B technical specifications

ChassisCarbon fiber composite and aluminum honeycomb monocoque with fully stressed engine
Length4.470 mm
Width2.133 mm
Height965 mm
Weight 500 kg
Front suspensionDouble wishbones, pull-rod actuated springs and dampers, anti-roll bar
Rear suspensionDouble wishbones, push-rod actuated springs and dampers, anti-roll bar
Wheelbase2.895 mm
Track (front & rear)1.824 mm/1.669 mm
EngineHonda RA100-E, 3,490cc, 72° V10, naturally aspirated mid-engine, longitudinally mounted
Power690 bhp / 515 kW
GearboxMcLaren 6-speed manual
BrakesVentilated carbon ceramic discs

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