Not that Cousall is under any illusions about the older cars, “where the installations are all so different to what I’ve grown up with. It’s stupid stuff, like I’m used to working on metric cars, so I have to get my head around the imperial measurements.”

The value to Cousall and the other younger members of the team is the experience that people like Lall and Wheeler can bring, with the older hands even remembering details like which socket fits which nut or which way a particular thread runs.

That level of detail can only come from working on a car 24/7, living and breathing it, just as Lall and Wheeler did back in the day.

Gary Wheeler, heritage build technician senior associate

As a 38-year McLaren stalwart, Gary Wheeler has been around long enough to be a good judge of who was the best. His answer? Ayrton Senna, without any hesitation.

Wheeler started out at Emerson Fittipaldi’s eponymous race team in 1982 and got to know Senna there. It was before Senna broke into F1 with Toleman, but the Brazilian knew Chico Serra, and the South American connection meant both men used to visit Emmo’s team.

In 1984, Wheeler moved to McLaren and bumped into Senna at a pizza restaurant. The racing driver was hiding around the corner, trying to avoid his media engagements. Wheeler spotted him and told him he wouldn’t say anything so long as Senna asked for Wheeler to be his mechanic if he ever raced for McLaren.


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