What is it?
The MP4/4 competed in the 1988 F1 season as the successor to the MP4/3. The MP4/4 won 15 out of 16 races and took 15/16 pole positions – that is a 93.8% win rate for the car. The MP4/4 allowed Aryton Senna to claim his first F1 World Driver’s Championship and McLaren to claim the Constructors championship with a 134 point gap to 2nd place; Ferrari.
The MP4/4 was designed by McLaren and powered by a 1.5L V6 Honda RA168-E V6 that produced 650BHP – which explains the hype and the disappointment of the McLaren-Honda team that formed in 2015.
The MP4/4 introduced the “lying down” seating position that we see in modern F1 cars today. This was a result of an FIA regulation that stated: “the top of the drivers’ helmet has to be below a line from the top of the roll bar to the top of the cowling.
The MP4/4 won 15 out of 16 races in the 1988 season, took 15 pole positions and gave McLaren 10 1-2 finishes. The tarnish lies at Monza where Senna crashed out of 1st place and Prost suffering from an engine failure.
One of the most dominant races for the MP4/4 was at Imola. Both Senna and Prost qualified ~3 seconds faster than 3rd place. The main reason of this disparity was the aerodynamics of the MP4/4 chassis. The Lotus 100T piloted by Nelson Piquet was using the same RA168-E V6 Honda engine and achieved a higher top speed, however, was still ~3 seconds slower than the MP4/4. The 2 MP4/4s lapped the ENTIRE field by lap 55 out of 60.
The MP4/4 retired 4 times in the 1988 season: Prost at Silverstone due to handling issue, Senna at Monza due to a crash, Prost at Monza due to engine failure, Senna at Monaco due to crashing out of the lead with a 50-second gap to 2nd place Prost.
With 15 pole positions out of 16, 13 for Senna, and 2 for Prost, the MP4/4 proved to be an unbeatable machine. Silverstone was the only race where Senna did not qualify 1st or 2nd. The w0rst finish for the MP4/4 besides the retirements was 6th place at Portugal due to a faulty fuel readout meter.
We recently added this legendary work of art into our high-end D-Box simulators. Come check it out and see if you can handle the 2.5bar of boost that Senna and Prost drove to victory after victory!