In 1993, Chrysler’s chief executive was none other than Bob “Maximum” Lutz. Chrysler, who at that time had owned Lamborghini since 1987, already supplied the rather unsuccessful Larousse Formula One team with the Lamborghini V12 engine, but Lutz wanted to win some races with it.
So, midway through the 1993 Formula One season, Lutz and McLaren boss Ron Dennis struck up a deal. McLaren modified their MP4/8 chassis to accommodate the larger V12 engine and on the 20th of September, Ayrton Senna took to the Silverstone Circuit to test the now 12-cylinder powered car.
During testing, Senna found that the engine was more powerful, more stable and easier on the tires than the Ford-Cosworth V8 they had been using all season. Senna liked it so much he wanted to use it in the final two races of the season, to which Dennis promptly replied “no.” Mikka Häkkinen, who was McLaren’s test driver at the time, also tested the Lamborghini powered car at Silverstone and was a full second faster with it than the Ford version. But that didn’t change Dennis’ mind either.
Senna went on to win the final two races of the 1993 season at Japan and Adelaide. The win in Australia marked Senna’s final win with McLaren. He would move on to Williams in 1994, and we all know how that ended.
For the 1994 season, McLaren opted for a Peugot V10 over the Lamborghini, while Chrysler abandoned their motorsport ventures and sold Lamborghini to an Indonesian holding company.
Its somewhat unsurprising that the only time Chrysler ever tried to have a hand in Formula One, it was under the guidance of Maximum Bob.
by Sam McEachern