Lewis Hamilton may have missed his chance to drive Ayrton Senna’s McLaren MP4-4 at this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed after it developed a problem while in the hands of the great man’s nephew Bruno.
But luckily his employers have a number of iconic Formula One cars at their disposal. And instead he has taken a brief ride in the MP4-2C – as driven by Alain Prost to the drivers’ championship in 1986.
Prost spent the season duelling with Williams’ Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet only to take the title in the final race, the Australian Grand Prix, after Mansell blew a tyre and the team brought in Piquet from the lead to stop the same thing happening to him. Prost’s team-mate at McLaren that season was Keke Rosberg.
The car has been restored to working order by the team’s engineers and was driven by Hamilton around the lakeside entrance to the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking as part of a sponsors’ event.
The team was announcing the renewal of its nearly 25-year relationship with watchmaker Tag Heuer, continuing a partnership with McLaren that was launched in 1985, making it one of the most enduring sporting deals in history. It is also celebrating its 150th anniversary with the launch of a new special-edition watch.
Hamilton said: “To be able to sit in the very car driven by one of the team’s greatest champions, Alain Prost, is a great honour; it was incredible to get to drive such a piece of history, and to experience a little taste of Formula 1’s, McLaren’s and TAG Heuer’s glorious past.
“Last night’s event really showcased the perfectionism and dedication that TAG Heuer has always shown the team, and it was an honour to be invited.”