Despite retiring from F1 at the end of 2016, Nico Rosberg hasn’t slowed down much. His businesses and burgeoning YouTube channel keep him very busy, and with all the racing connections anyone could hope for, he’s been able to sample some great cars recently.
Among them is the McLaren Senna. Few people can really extract every iota of performance from what might be the world’s fastest hypercar, but Rosberg fits into that group nicely. What’s more, he’s not some reticent racing driver who can’t really delve into details of a car. He has a serious engineering understanding; he was accepted to study aeronautical engineering at Imperial College London but declined in order to race in GP2.
That means that, not only can he drive this car as it was intended, he can relay the technical side of things well. That makes him unique in the world of automotive journalists; few people can provoke a $2,000,000 hypercar into the angles that he can.
More impressive—he can use all the downforce the car offers. Lowered in race mode, the car offers an incredible ride height that really can only be used on a smooth surface like Paul Ricard’s. While the car is just compliant enough to hop the smaller curbs, the lowered car makes crazy aerodynamic grip that is most obvious in the faster braking zones—just listen to how impressed he is at 1:39. To make an F1 champion gasp like that takes something serious. That, which is followed by a snap of oversteer on entry shows just how lively this monster is.
The 800 horsepower isn’t easily deployed; he nearly spins the car off at 2:21, but his countersteering keeps that from happening. Truly, few people have hands that quick—and while he gathers it as only an F1 Champ can, it’s clear the experience still shook him.
The third lap, with temperatures correct and the car showings its natural poise. On cold tires, the car understeers, but then that turns into a great neutral handling once the tires come up to temp. It would’ve been nice to see him make good use of the 1,700 pounds of downforce in some faster corners, but the performance was still enough to give Rosberg a crick in his neck. How many cars can tax an F1 drivers neck?