Thread of the Week: Senna's throttle technique


It’s been 25 years since the tragic accident that killed Ayrton Senna - a man many us still regard as the best racing driver of all time. He was a master of Monaco, with six consecutive wins there between 1989 and 1994. He famously won the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix with his McLaren MP4/6 stuck in sixth gear for the final few laps. But even more so than the standout race wins, what arguably made people love Senna the most was the way in which he drove his cars.

He had some of the most exuberant and unique techniques to extract maximum performance. It is claimed by McLaren that on Monte Carlo’s Grand Hotel Hairpin, while his hands were crossed mid-turn, Senna would downshift with his left hand (the lever being located on the cockpit’s right) to get better drive out of the corner. Another seemingly uncopiable technique - one that you might imagine would send many other drivers spinning - was his preference for aggressively prodding the throttle through corners. It’s thought he did this to keep turbos spooled up and alleviate the collosal lag F1 cars or this era had.

The topic of our Thread of the Week, however, questions that theory. PHer Rallycross has posted footage of Senna driving a racing Honda Civic, a car that is obviously not turbocharged (and possibly the loudest example of VTEC power in the world!). Yet Senna is practicing his stab-the-throttle technique here too. Is this the Brazilian legend demonstrating that process is effective in a naturally aspirated, front wheel drive car too? Or was it un unnecessary habit? Find this amazing video and join the discussion here.

P.H. O'meter

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