“McLaren was licking its wounds last week after a disastrous performance at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Ayrton Senna, Gerhard Berger and Jonathan Palmer will all be testing new MP4/7As at Silverstone in an effort to catch up with Nigel Mansell’s flying Williams,” we reported after the Formula 1 car’s debut outing.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? And like with the McLaren MCL36 that looked off the pace at the start of the 2022 season, the Woking team could pin at least some of the blame on its engine supplier – now Mercedes-AMG but 30 years ago Honda.
“The new RA122E/B is a low-line, 75deg V12. With all its ancillaries inside the vee and its exhaust manifolds hugging the side of the block, it has been designed with aerodynamics in mind. But despite variable-length inlet trumpets, pneumatic valve actuation and road car-derived quick-burn inlet ports, both Senna and Berger said the engine lacked top-end power.”
Some estimated it was 70bhp down on Williams’ Renault V10. Progress was made, and the car won five races, but it was a hard fall from four years of domination.
Honda quit F1 after 1992 to focus on Indycar in the US, and McLaren didn’t win another title until 1998.