If you were to think of Formula One in the 1990s, a few stand-out elements would likely spring to mind. The rise of young gun Schumacher, Williams pushing the FIA rulebook to its limit, or the Senna versus Prost showdown are just a selection, meaning the pinnacle of motorsport had no shortage of drama during this period.
The 1994 season saw a wealth of changes, mainly due to the FIA putting emphasis on the drivers' skills over technological innovation. Gone was the active suspension, the ABS and even traction control, leaving a well-designed car and fearless driver to determine who would come out on top. With the mighty duo of Williams-Renault bagging the Constructor’s Title in 1993, it looked as though they’d returned to the grid stronger than ever in 1994. However, another French outfit fancied a taste of the sweet tang of champagne and glory, with Peugeot partnering with McLaren ahead of the 1994 season.
Despite the FIA-imposed restrictions we mentioned earlier, the 1994 McLaren was nothing short of a technological masterpiece. Its ear-splitting V10 was derived from the mighty Peugeot 905 that claimed two wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with only minor aerodynamic changes needed to squeeze it into the F1 monocoque. The car featured power-assisted steering, innovative data acquisition systems, and even the very first steering wheel to feature gear shifters behind the wheel, showcasing just how serious both McLaren and Peugeot were about bringing the fight to Sir Frank.
Of course, a good car is nothing without a good driver, and thankfully McLaren had a young ace up their sleeves. With Senna moving to Williams-Renault for the 1994 season, he was replaced by 26-year-old Mika Hakkinen, who was more than ready to prove his worth alongside experienced racer Martin Brundle. The stage was set, and as millions tuned in to watch the greatest drivers battle it out in the finest machinery, there was a real sense of ambition around McLaren standing toe-to-toe with the mighty Rothmans-liveried outfit.
Unfortunately for McLaren and Peugeot, this wasn’t the case, and both cars were struck with consistent reliability issues throughout the 1994 season. Despite eight podium finishes and ten races in the points, McLaren failed to win a single race in the 1994 season. As a result, McLaren and Peugeot finished 4th in the constructors' world championship, a position that Ron Dennis and his team weren't ecstatic about. McLaren and Peugeot split at the end of the 1994 season, and the pair haven’t partnered since, making this fine example one of just eight vehicles in existence.
Wearing perhaps the sport’s most famous livery, this MP4 presents exactly how it was left after the Italian Grand Prix in 1994, having been stored in McLaren’s fantastic Woking Technology Centre ever since. It is equipped with the high-revving Peugeot V10 A6 3.5l engine that exhumes 740 horsepower, with bills totalling nearly EUR 250,000 to allow it to return to the track and participate in various events open to Formula One cars.
Any Formula One car from a bygone era is something to marvel at, but this car's combination of an unusual powertrain with a visually stunning livery make it especially desirable. Estimates are coming in around the EUR 1,200,000 to 1,500,000 mark, making it seemingly well-priced for such an iconic piece of 90s motorsport history!