Goodwood Festival of Speed 2019 Day Four
If you've enjoyed Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, you'll be delighted with what the event has in store for you as things come to a thrilling climax on the Sunday.
Previous days have featured a wide and varied array of displays, exhibitions and more, but the real focus of Sunday is racing and record breakers. It's time for motorsport to truly take centre stage at Goodwood, with a full hill climb program that includes the timed shootout, thrilling off-road action at the arena, the Forest Rally Stage, heroes of motorsport past and present to meet and see in action, and plenty more. If you're only able to attend one day at Goodwood, try and make it Sunday. That said, the weather gods have not been kind and it is a little bit wet here so not all vehciles will be attempting a hill run.
Needless to say, the whole Festival of Speed weekend is packed with legends, but few are more worthy of the name than a very special guest coming in from Japan for the event, the 1998 McLaren Honda MP4/4 Formula 1 car, that was driven back in the day by none other than Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
We can't wait to see the car out on track, but in the meantime you can explore it in more detail for youself with this 3D interactive visual.
The motor industry loves an anniversary, and here at Honda, we're no different. This year it’s a pretty big one and one that's entirely appropriate to the festival of Speed. This year sees Honda celebrating an incredible 60 years of extraordinary success competing at the Isle of Man TT races.
Plenty of different bikes will be on show at the Festival to tell the story of Honda’s two-wheeled racing heritage, from the very first TT entrant from back in 1959 to the present day MotoGP machines such as the RC213V Marc Marquez rode World Championship victory last year.
Legendary Honda champions of past and present will pilot a selection of genuinely priceless motorcycles up the famous hill here at Goodwood. These legends of motorcycle racing include such giants of the track as 1999 500cc World Champion Mick Doohan, and double MotoGP World Champion Casey Stoner, who in 2011 rode a Repsol Honda to victory.
Plenty of renowned TT riders will be in attendance too, including 16-time Honda winner John McGuinness, Ian Hutchinson and Manxman Conor Cummins. On the hill climb, John McGuinness rides the bike that took him victory and set a new TT course record this year, the Zero TT Mugen Shinden machine, as well as his current Norton TT challengers.
Ian Hutchinson, still the only rider to rack up five TT wins in a single week, will be riding his 2010 Senior TT-winning Padgetts Racing CBR1000RR, while Conor Cummins will be hitting the hill onboard the latest Padgetts Superbike. Holders of the TT sidecar lap record and winners of the 2019 Sidecar race, the Birchall brothers, return to the Festival of Speed this year with their Honda-powered LCR sidecar set-up to show what it can do.
Formula 1 drivers are always a big draw at Goodwood, and Honda's special guest is one of the upcoming stars of the current F1 scene, Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver, Alexander Albon. Alex is normally powered by a Honda hybrid engine in his day job, but this time he will be going all-electric as the driver behind the wheel of the Honda e Prototype for its appearance in Sunday's hill climb.
The 23-year-old Thai national from London began his racing career in karts, with wins in the Honda National Championship Cadet Class in 2006, the KF3 Class in 2009, and the 2010 European Championship in the KF3 Class.
Alex moved through Formula Renault 2.0, European Formula 3 and GP3 Series before graduating to the FIA Formula 2 Championship in 2017 and Formula E in 2018. This year Alex made his debut for Toro Rosso in the Australian Grand Prix as the first Thai driver ever in F1, and it only took until the second race of the season in Bahrain for Albon to secure his first points with a creditable ninth-place finish.
All Formula 1 cars are special, especially successful ones, but the McLaren Honda MP4/4 is one of the most successful and most dominant F1 cars of all time. We know the current Mercedes has been hugely dominant recently, but the McLaren Honda MP4/4 won a simply incredible 15 out of 16 races back in 1988. What makes this car even more important is it was the dominant force in what turned out to be the final season of the turbo era of Formula 1, and also gave the late, great Ayrton Senna his first championship victory.
In total, some six units of the McLaren Honda MP4/4 were built, and this one owned by Honda was chassis number five and the one that was driven by Senna to victory in the British, German, Hungarian and Belgian Grand Prix. It last made an appearance here at Goodwood in 2014, when at the time it was driven by Takuya Izawa.
The car was designed by American engineer Steve Nichols, with more than a little help from McLaren-Honda's Technical Director, Gordon Murray. At the heart of the car was a 1.5-litre RA168E V-6 Honda turbocharged engine, which had been the engine everyone wanted since late in the 1985 season when it was powering the Williams team to victory.
The Nichols and Murray-designed MP4/4 was based on the lowline Brabham BT55, which was designed by Murray for the 1986 season when he was employed as the chief designer at Brabham. With a winning percentage of 93.8% in 1988, the car is still statistically the most dominant model in F1 history. Although the Mercedes F1 W07 Hybrid won an incredible 19 of 21 races in 2016, it still only represented a win percentage of 90.5% as the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 kept its crown.
To be fair to other teams in 1988, everyone knew turbo engines were going to be banned for the following season, so a lot of teams and manufacturers were already trying to establish themselves with naturally aspirated powerplant in anticipation of the following year's rule change. Although it was rumoured Honda's new V10 would be introduced at some point during the 1988 season, McLaren team boss Ron Dennis confirmed ahead of the Italian Grand Prix at Monza that the V10 wasn't part of the team's plans for 1988.
- Lewis Hamilton drove Ayrton Senna’s MP4/4 in an episode of Top Gear. He said that he was so nervous about driving it that he didn’t sleep the night before.
- There is contention about who actually designed the MP4/4, with American engineer Steve Nichols and Gordan Murray both claiming to have come up with the main concepts.
- In early 1988, Alain Prost reportedly told Team Principle Ron Dennis after just a few laps that he knew the car would win the World Championship.
- It holds the record for the most dominant single season car, with a win percentage of 93.8%.
- Senna, Prost and the MP4/4 so nearly won all 16 races. Senna crashed out of the lead in the Italian Grand Prix after a tangle with Jean Louis Schlesser, and it was Gerhard Berger who took the chequered flag.
With the weekend drawing to a close as the July summer evening descends on the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, it's time to look back at what we've seen. It's always a little sad when such a great occasion comes to an end, but it's all the sadder if you didn’t make it there to take in all the fun at all. There really has been something for everyone, and you don’t have to be a hardcore petrol head to enjoy a weekend like this.
Of course, the hill climb is the number one attraction for most visitors, and rightly so. It's where models from the Main, Supercar and First Glance Paddocks all come together on common ground, but it's also a chance to get an advanced look at some of the cars we'll be driving in the future, such as the Honda e Prototype electric commuter car.
But if it’s the future you’re interested in, the FOS Future Lab was a hub of pioneering achievement that provided an immersive technology experience, and the First Glance Paddock situated alongside it gave a sneak peek into the future of automotive technology.
You may not have got around everywhere and got to see everything you wanted, but there's always next year, and you can bet Honda and the Goodwood Festival of Speed will be back again in 2020, bigger and better than ever.