Formula 1 fans spend a lot of time waxing about the aural sensations of the sport’s V10 era, and for good reason: These machines were absolute screamers. This video, from racing journalist extraordinaire Marshall Pruett, proves that. But the sound is only about the third most important thing going on in this video.
That’s because what you’re watching here is a current-day racing hero exercising one of the most legendary F1 cars of all time. Yep, that’s Pato O’Ward, behind the wheel of the actual McLaren MP4/5B that Ayrton Senna drove to a contentious world championship in 1990.
Yep, this is the car that Senna used to force teammate Alain Prost off the track in the first corner at Suzuka in 1990. This move clinched the championship title for Senna with one race to go in the season. When asked later by racing god Jackie Stewart about the decision to spear his own teammate off the track to secure the championship, Senna delivered his now-famous quote: “Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people, and if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.”
Thankfully, the MP4/5B survived, and when O’Ward hopped in the cockpit at this weekend’s Velocity Invitational vintage racing event at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, Marshall Pruett was there to slap an action camera on O’Ward’s helmet.
We’re grateful he did. Even without the championship pressure that made Senna full-throttle crash out his own teammate, the McLaren makes a spine-tingling shriek as that 3.5-liter V10 leaps to redline. And watch O’Ward’s hands: This was still the era of three-pedal, lever-shifted manual transmissions in Formula 1. O’Ward spends damn near half his laps steering with one hand, the other on the shifter as he seamlessly rev-matches every shift. A master at work.
Turn the volume up to appreciate what’s going on here in its full aural glory: