It’s Ayrton Senna’s birthday, so check out his Monaco-winning McLaren

If you’re feeling like you really want to celebrate Ayrton Senna’s birthday today, check out his McLaren-Ford Formula 1 race car which he piloted to victory in the 1993 Monaco Grand Prix. Fittingly, Bonhams is offering Senna’s McLaren at its Monaco sale on May 11.

After several years with Honda engines, McLaren needed a placeholder for the 1993 season until it began its partnership with Peugeot the next year. Ford got the nod with its Cosworth-built HB V-8 engines, although the customer versions it supplied were slightly less powerful than the latest HB engines Ford saved for its exclusive deal with Benetton.

Although Senna was concerned the car—chassis number 6—was underpowered compared to the burlier contemporary Williams-Renault V-10 and Ferrari V-12 cars, in Senna’s hands the McLaren was worthy of a victory—his sixth and final at Monaco, and still the most ever at that race. Following Monaco, Senna drove chassis no. 6 in seven additional races that season, before serving as a spare car in two more races. Senna spent much of 1993 dueling with fierce rival Alain Prost, eventually finishing second behind the Frenchman for the overall championship.

1993 McLaren MP4/8A Chassis no. 6 front 3/4

Senna’s big win at Monaco capped off his final year at McLaren, and after the 1993 season Prost retired. With Prost’s spot vacant, Senna left McLaren and joined Williams for the 1994 season.

Bonhams hasn’t said on the record what it estimates Senna’s McLaren will command at auction, but we would expect it to be somewhere in the neighborhood of Schumacher’s Monaco-winning Ferrari from 2001. Last year, that car sold for $7.5 million, and the appeal of a similarly successful Senna Formula 1 car could be enough to top that mark.

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