29 February 2024

LEGO® Icons review: 10330 McLaren MP4/4 & Ayrton Senna

Posted by Zachary Hill

Few Formula 1 cars have ever come close to the dominance displayed by the McLaren MP4/4. In the 1988 season, teammates Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost drove the cars to win the World Constructors' Championship with more than triple the points of their closest competitor; a feat never again seen in F1.

This legendary car and its drivers have been immortalized in many forms, but 10330 McLaren MP4/4 & Ayrton Senna is its first time as a LEGO® set. It's also the first LEGO® Icons car to include a minifigure. Their scales don't match but display stands are included for both and nothing's stopping you from putting tiny Senna in the larger car. Several new moulds and printed elements form the wheels, suspension, bodywork and iconic helmet. Even in a bare-bones F1 car, some areas such as the engine bay still pack in the detail expected of LEGO Icons vehicles.

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10330 McLaren MP4/4 & Ayrton Senna
US$79.99/ £69.99/ 79.99€/ AU$99.99
693 parts
Released 1 March 2024

Set 10330 on

In a transitional Formula 1 season, rule changes made turbo engines less attractive ahead of 1989's turbo ban. In light of the lower fuel and boost pressure limits, more than half the teams omitted forced induction a year early. In their minds, running a restricted turbo engine would put them at a disadvantage.

To their chagrin, the back of the turbocharged McLaren MP4/4 was all most competitors ever saw. Of the 16 races in the season, this car won 15 of them and led 1,003 of the season's 1,031 laps. As impressive as the engine and chassis were, team Honda Marlboro McLaren's 1988 drivers were two of the best the sport has ever seen.

Frenchman Alain Prost had recently won two back-to-back championships and would later win two more. His junior, Ayrton Senna from Brazil, had previously competed against Prost the previous four years. In that time Senna had steadily moved closer to taking home the gold, and now joining Prost as a teammate and in the seat of the most advanced racecar at the time, it was his time to hoist the World Drivers' Championship trophy.

Ayrton Senna minifigure

As a national treasure of Brazil and a renowned driver around the world, Ayrton Senna's minifigure has to be just right, especially his bright yellow helmet. Since his first go-kart races at 13, his helmet was always banded with his homeland's colours, no matter the team or motorsport he drove in. The unwavering design is now the logo of educational nonprofit Instituto Ayrton Senna (IAS is affiliated with this set) and replica helmets are commonly seen decorating Brazilian bars.

Some changes from the real-world helmet are seen on the LEGO version, all of which I feel are understandable. Only the top is printed which means another line of the iconic helmet — wrapping low on the helmet under Senna's visor — is absent. Dozens of different printed standard LEGO helmet (2446) designs have been made since 1987, and all are exclusively printed on the top. It seems printing below the top isn't feasible for The LEGO Group, but the spirit of this design feels right.

Senna's helmet while driving for Honda Marlboro McLaren featured a prominent Marlboro cigarettes logo above the visor. The LEGO Group's days of printing cigarette advertisements are long gone, so it's been replaced with a Senna tribute logo. For something right on his forehead, this is more respectful toward Ayrton's legacy anyway.

The heat of the race day sun shone often through Senna's visor, so he developed a short wide patch of freckles across his nose and cheeks throughout his career. The minifig's freckles could have been closer to or covering his nose where the real driver's freckles were most prominent, but perhaps the designer omitted some to keep the handsome Ayrton from becoming too boyish. Modern human minifigure design principles seem to discourage printing on the nose area too.

Lastly, his firesuit sees another Marlboro logo replaced with the Senna logo, or as pictured on the plaque, stripped of text. A subtle and well-designed stitching pattern is printed across the minifig's torso and back, down to the legs. No printing is on Senna's arms. It seems he's done his laundry with warm water, as the notoriously-translucent white printing allows the bright red body beneath to show through. Given the car has a red and white colour scheme too, this isn't the only printed piece to look a smidge pink where it would ideally be white.

New moulds 

Wheel 49.5 x 22.2 with Molded Tire (part 105645)

  • 4x Wheel 49.5 x 22.2 with Molded Slick Black Hard Rubber Tire (6464551 | 105645)
The most obvious inaccuracy between this set and the real McLaren MP4/4 is the consistent width between the front steer and rear drive tyres. Even so, I'm pleased to have another slick tyre option. Treaded tyres are generally only used in wet conditions in Formula 1, and Ayrton Senna was exceptional in the rain, even so, slicks are what most people expect to see on F1 cars. The center wheel design matches the MP4/4's wheels, though they'll also work well on a variety of wheeled contraptions. 

© 1988 Grand Prix Photo

Technic 4 x 6 Small Wishbone Suspension Arm (part 5294)

  • 8x Technic 4 x 6 Small Wishbone Suspension Arm (6464609 | 5294)
Designed by Yoel Mazur, two of these per wheel make the McLaren's suspension more accurate than any previously existing elements could at this scale.

The triangular shape is naturally strong, reinforced with an inner flare on the 3.18 mm bar legs. These could easily be used in other cars, open-wheeled or not, or adapted entirely for structural usage. The isosceles triangle's legs angle about 75° from the axle connections, matching existing angles such as the 2x1x3 slope (4460). The option to place a sturdy bar connection at this angle or extend a towball socket far out has even more potential for creative uses.

The 4 x 6 shape naturally fits nicely with the LEGO System grid. Four clips can fit in a row on the outside, but no inside clip connections can be made, even with now-extinct split clips. That inside flare also limits the degree to which outside clips can be rotated.

Tile Wedge 45° Cut 2 x 1 (parts 5091 & 5092) and Wedge 8 x 4 Triple (part 5382)

  • 1x Tile Wedge 45° Cut 2 x 1 Right in White (6477750 | 5092)
  • 1x Tile Wedge 45° Cut 2 x 1 Left in White (6477744 | 5091)
  • 1x Wedge 8 x 4 Triple with White Rounded Pattern in Bright Red/ Red (6475049 | 5382pr)
Three new wedges build the pointy angles of the McLaren MP4/4. The white wedge tiles are the first we've seen of these new moulds, but their fundamental shapes mean we can expect them in many more sets. Often MOC builders and LEGO designers have resorted to using the curved 2 x 1 wedge slope where a flat version would fit better, and now we have it.

If the white printing on the red nose slope isn't as pointy as you rememberd the MP4/4 having, you aren't wrong. McLaren did indeed change the car's livery well after it was retired to scrub their cars of Marlboro branding after the European Union tobacco advertising ban in 2005. I do miss the pointy shape but it's association with Marlboro required the shape be softened. Can't say Marlboro would fly in any LEGO set anyway, and that's no lamentation.

Opinions on removing carcinogen advertisements aside, this print does have some minor shortcomings, in particular with the bottom edge. The print leaves an abnormally large gap of red at the bottom, and printing safezones near the stud cutouts seem to have forced it to be slightly jagged. As mentioned on Senna's firesuit above, this white print looks a bit pink next to truly white parts.

New printed parts

  • 2x Slope, Curved 2 x 4 x 1 1/3 with 4 Recessed Studs with "POWERED by HONDA" Pattern in White (6475056 | 6081pr)
  • 1x Slope, Curved 2 x 2 Lip with TAG Heuer Logo Pattern in Transparent/ Trans-Clear (6475063 | 28659pr)
  • 1x Wedge 4 x 3 Triple Curved No Studs with White Rounded Pattern in Bright Red/ Red (6475057 | 64225pr)
Racecars are often plastered in as many sponsors' logos as will fit, and the McLaren MP4/4 is no exception therefore most of the set's printing is branding.

The smaller red wedge slope follows the same design as the nose wedge above, but its white print is broken up by two unprinted lines on its edges. The longer triple wedge above is printed on its creases and this 4 x 3 wedge has been printed over its creases several times, even in white on red as Minnie's dress in LEGO® Disney 43179 Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. Perhaps this particular design couldn't be reliably aligned to form one cohesive shape, whereas Minnie's dress has disparate polka dots.

  • 2x Tile 1 x 6 with "Shell" Pattern (6475058 | 6636pr)
  • 1x Tile 2 x 6 with Honda Logo, Red "12", Shell Logo, and Underlined "McLaren" Pattern (6475054 | 69729pr)
  • 1x Tile 2 x 6 with "McLaren" Pattern (6475053 | 69729pr)
  • 1x Tile 1 x 8 with Upper Half "McLaren" Pattern (6475052 | 69729pr)
Sponsors, sponsors, and more sponsors. If you're spending top dollar building a racecar, you had better make sure people know it was you who funded it. Logos of engine builder Honda, chassis builder McLaren, and fuel supplier Shell adorn white tiles visible from nearly every angle of the MP4/4, with even more applied as stickers.

There isn't a tile missing, though you'd be forgiven for thinking The LEGO Group shorted you the bottom half of "McLaren" until you build the rear wing. That upper half overlays the below 2x6 tile similar to the split Marlboro design the car originally hosted on its rear spoiler. I've yet to find any evidence any MP4/4 chassis ever displayed McLaren branding there, only Marlboro before the EU tobacco advertising ban and blank white after.

The LEGO Group ended their partnership with Shell under pressure from Greenpeace in 2014, but the Dutch oil company still gets some representation as sponsors of real-world racecars like in LEGO Technic 42125 Ferrari 488 GTE. Unlike the Technic Ferrari 488, the instruction booklet included with the McLaren MP4/4 includes a disclaimer: "The Sponsor branding marks featured are historic and representative of the branding of the historic era." This seems to be a reference to the Shell branding alone.

Rare parts

  • 2x Slope 10 6 x 1 with 1 x 2 x 1 / 3 Cutout (6470155 | 4569)
  • 4x Slope, Inverted 45 2 x 1 with 2/3 Cutout (6435267 | 2310)
A couple of recently-introduced Dark Stone Grey / Dark Bluish Gray slopes make their next appearance in the McLaren MP4/4. Several readers have expressed interest in the long slopes for their MOCs after seeing it in 10327 Dune Atreides Royal Ornithopter.

  • 1x Slope, Inverted 45 6 x 8 Double with 4 Holes and 4 Pin Holes in Black (6472683 | 5117)
  • 1x Brick, Round 2 x 2 with Pin Holes in Bright Blue/ Blue (6297279 | 17485)
This is the first copy of the new-for-2024 6 x 8 inverted slope New E has received, though it released in three sets on January 1st. The spacious cutout is perfect for vehicle bases, which is all it's been used for in sets so far. The Technic pin holes are put to good use in the McLaren, forming connections with other Technic bricks for a super strong chassis.

The other rare pin-holed element, the blue 2 x 2 round brick, is only rare unprinted. It has been unprinted in just three other sets, while a printed version has been Toad's torso in 6 LEGO® Super Mario sets such as Luigi's Mansion 71401 Haunt-and-Seek.

  • 4x Brick, Round 1 x 1 (6410057 | 3062)
I love Cool Silver Drum Lacquered/ Metallic Silver parts since they're the next best thing to retired chrome. In this set though, the drum lacquered finish is a better fit for the cast turbo housings. These 1 x 1 round bricks in the coated colour make their second modern appearance after appearing in just two sets in 2014.

The build

Around 40 LEGO sets have featured real or imaginary F1 cars, from as far back as 1975. Those sets have almost always been built in the style of cars at that time, some are even in LEGO® DUPLO® pieces. Most F1 sets have been based on Ferrari cars, but this trend peaked in the late 2000s. The last time the manufacturer won a World Constructors' Championship was 2008, so the decreased representation of Scuderia Ferrari cars could be more than a coincidence.

Ann Healy designed the LEGO McLaren MP4/4 as the first historic F1 car ever built at this ~1:13 scale, and apart from the narrow rear tyres, the shaping is spot-on.

Before this set arrived for review, I questioned whether the real car's red paint would be regular Bright Red/ Red or the very recent Reddish Orange. Neither is a perfect match for Rocket Red, a neon orange-red shade McLaren themselves describe as "eyeball searing" and meant to saturate early color TV camera's sensors to stand out on the track. Standard red was surely more feasible as few elements have yet been produced in the new Reddish Orange.

© 2016 McLaren Racing

Putting together the purpose-built racecar is largely straightfoward with less complexity than other LEGO Icons cars, reflected in this set's more approachable price. After all, there are no doors or roof to build, no boot, no headlights, no grille — all uneccesary if you're simplifying and adding lightness, the best performance improvement.

That's not to say the build is lacking. It does accurately depict the McLaren's bodywork with appropriate detail built-in where there is any, such as the sidepods' cavernous air intakes, aggressive front and rear spoilers, and most detailed of all, the engine.

Under the engine cover you'll notice Brazilian colours toward the front. Brick-built Easter egg homages to relevant countries aren't uncommon, such as the Swedish flag in LEGO® Speed Champions 76900 Koenigsegg Jesko or the Italian flag for the LEGO® Ideas 21388 A-Frame Cabin's designer. Here, the green, yellow, and blue stripes are two of four references to Ayrton Senna's homeland.

The first and most accurate appears early in the build. After laying down the low, flat black floorpan of the McLaren MP4/4, a nearly-complete Brazilian flag is at the heart and soul of the MP4/4, below its engine.

Senna and the country he represented rightfully deserve the spotlight, but this car's legendary status was an international collaboration. It was driven nearly as well by Frenchman Alain Prost, and designed by American Steve Nichols and South African-British Gordon Murray, who employed a Japanese Honda engine.

Seen forward-and-aft and side-to-side, the bandeira do Brasil supports the three most fundamental pieces of a successful racecar: the engine, the steering, and the aerodynamic body.

In addition to functional steering and a removable engine cover, the rear wing is also adjustable. Adjusting downforce for the specific track you're racing on is a vital part of Formula 1 tuning.

Like most LEGO Icons cars, the McLaren MP4/4 includes no suspension components, but the new long flat suspension wishbones do flex enough to provide a realistic amount of body movement. The flat floorpan is only half a plate above the ground, so it doesn't take much to push it into the pavement. That's a lot less suspension travel than seen in the off-road legs of LEGO Icons 10317 Land Rover Classic Defender 90.

Central white Technic plates provide seamless passage for pins to secure the car to the included display stand.

The front wing isn't adjustable, but it's still quite an accurate representation of the real car's nose aero. A simple technique works well to provide a realistic gap between the two wing tiers using the inherent bottom grooves of the Shell-printed tiles. The new flat 1x2 wedge tiles are nearly invisible at the rear of the side strakes, but they do add accuracy to the sleek shape.

Goodyear was the sole F1 tyre supplier in 1988. Pirelli is now the sport's exclusive tyre supplier since 2011, with that right remaining until 2027. Goodyear branding is absent on the 1988 MP4/4 with McLaren branding taking its place on the outer sides. I can only wonder if Pirelli, seen in many other LEGO Formula 1 sets, has some exclusivity agreement with The LEGO Group.

The McLaren MP4/4's tight cockpit has room for just a few details. No printed 1x2 tile bearing a resemblance to the car's actual instruments exists, so a sci-fi panel has been used instead. I'd personally prefer a more realistic sticker be used here. I'd even trade one of the other printed parts to have an accurate and potentially useful-for-MOCs 80s digital gauge cluster tile printed.

One detail I really love is the sextant piece on the driver's left. The marked positions on the arched portion is a very close match to the MP4/4's roll bar stiffness adjustment lever, which Senna and Prost would ratchet down as their fuel weight lessened over the duration of a race.

After photographing this set, I realized I built the red side mirrors rotated 90° out from the instructions, but neither of those directions looks quite right. Now on my shelf, I rotated the 1x1x⅔ arches (49307) to be parallel to the ground.

A podium finish

With a rich history preceding it, LEGO Icons 10330 McLaren MP4/4 & Ayrton Senna has a lot to live up to. The combination of engine, chassis, and driver need to come together in perfect harmony to win a Formula 1 title, and all three parts are mostly-accurately represented here. If you can forgive McLaren's post-2005 livery updates and incorrectly-equal width tyres, this set displays and plays well. MOC builders have something to appreciate too with unique tyres and versatile suspension wishbones on their way.

If you enjoyed this review and are considering buying the set from once released in March, please consider using our affiliate links to get there: Set 10330 on

READ MORE: 43249 Stitch has more complicated techniques than you might expect from a 9+ set

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  1. Loving those new wedged tiles.
    Btw the printed white on red on your pictures is perfect, while everywhere else it's Lego's usual poor printing. Is that post-editing?

    1. I shoot studio photos with very bright light which can even out some of the white tones. The natural-light photos outside seem to show the difference a bit more.

  2. "...or the French flag for the LEGO® Ideas 21388 A-Frame Cabin's designer" The set designer, Andrea Lattanzio, is actually italian!

    1. Whoops, I got stuck in French mode thinking about Alain Prost! I don't normally confuse the Tricolores! Thanks for the heads-up, it's fixed it now.

  3. At the risk of sounding pedant, the triangles are isosceles (two side of equal length). An equilateral triangle have all sides of equal length and as such, all equal angles of 60 degrees. Very happy, with the introduction of this piece.

    1. Maybe I meant equal, maybe I was up too late writing - it's fixed now, thank you!

  4. Thanks for this review! I'll get mine in the mail in a couple of days, we'll see if my opinions change then. Overall it looks very nice and it's great to get a mid priced Icons option.

    For now, I'm disappointed at the nose construction, I really would have preferred a solution where the nosecone itself was one piece, with the front wing left and right sides terminating at the cone. Instead we get this awkward white nose cap with the front wing completely passing under it. The wheel design is close but not quite right, I'm not sure why Lego made them this way. The real wheels clearly have spokes that are a constant width from hub to rim, the Lego wheels' spokes get wider.

    And the tires...oh my the tires. Is it too much to just give us proper F1 tires that are wider in the rear than the front? C'mon Lego, if you can do it for Technic motorcycles surely you can do it for this! I suppose it could set a bad(good) precedent for all the other F1 cars coming out this year, but I really wish there was a solution to the front/rear tires size difference issue.

    1. Very subtle tapering like the nose of the real MP4/4 is difficult to build with strength and without gaps, so some compromise seems to have been made. The front wing is quite secure, a feat given how thin everything is up there.

    2. Yeah, certainly not claiming I could have done better, especially having to keep it sturdy enough to be a normal retail set! (I'm the anon above).

  5. LEGO minifigure scale vehicles tend to be oversized relative to the figure, but this is ridiculous--tires are almost the size of the driver and the car has the footprint of a mid-size bus.

    1. It's mentioned in the article that the ~1:13, whereas minifig scale would rather be something like ~1:40-~1:45, I guess. (The 1:43 scale common in European toy cars might have served as an inspiration.)

      I guess that the scale of the car was chosen for its detailing and its harmonizing with Lego parts, whereas the minifigure was designed separately as a collector's bonus.

      As for myself, I’m indifferent to racing, but I hope the yellow and orange motorcycle helmets in the Speed Champions and Icons sets would mean that unprinted yellow and orange helmets would come up on Lego Pick-A-Brick. Yellow is the rarest of the Mondrian colors, and Orange is extremely rare, having only been widely released in printed form.