Ayrton Senna -The Greatest Moments….
We all have our memories of Ayrton Senna, snapshots of time left to us by the legendary Brazilian, so here are our Top 8 most memorable Senna Formula 1 Moments.
8. Victory in Brazil – Interlagos 1991
Senna was passionate about his home country – Everything Ayrton did, he did for his faith in God and for the love of Brazil.
From the early days showing pride with his iconic helmet design, to the legacy he left with setting up his own foundation, to the millions he donated to charity.
However, until 1991 he hadn’t tasted victory on home soil in Formula 1 – but having qualified on pole for the race and all went to plan until the closing stages when, unknown to observers, Senna’s gearbox was failing.
He lost 4th gear with 12 laps to go, and lost 3rd and 5th gears with 3 laps remaining. Having to maintain 6th gear in slow and medium corners meant that several times he nearly stalled. He took the flag by 2.9 seconds, screaming in both delight and pain as the tremendous physical effort meant he could scarcely lift his arms – a heroic victory.
7. Spanish Grand Prix Qualifying - Jerez 1990
A weekend overshadowed by Martin Donnelly’s horrific accident during practice, and Senna was deeply affected by it. Having gone to the scene to check on Donnelly, he decided the track was not going to one-up the drivers – in what seemed to be a mission to prove something to the track that almost took a fellow driver, Senna put in an incredible qualifying performance.
He had already taken pole, but he went out again and beat his own time just to prove that the circuit wouldn’t win – It was just something he had to do in defiance.
6. Coming to the aid of Erik Comas – Spa 1992
This famous incident showed the human side of Ayrton that was often forgotten or overlooked.
In practice Ligier’s Erik Comas crashed heavily at the Blanchimont corner; the car rebounding into the middle of the track with Comas unconscious in the cockpit. As Senna approached, he noticed the Frenchman was passed out but with his foot still on the accelerator – fearing an explosion Ayrton pulled over, switched the ignition off and held Comas head until help arrived.
Comas later stated he was certain Senna had saved his life.
5. His first victory - Estoril 1985
This was the day Ayrton was confirmed as a wet-weather genius.
Ayrton secured his first ever pole position, but the race was played out in a torrential downpour – today the race wouldn’t go ahead.
Dominating the race from the front, he circulated majestically as all other faltered. As the race went beyond it’s 2-hour time limit the jubilant Brazilian crossed the line a full 63 seconds ahead – Michele Alboreto in 2nd was the only driver Senna didn’t lap.
4. Monaco Grand Prix Qualifying - 1988
Senna famously loved the Monaco circuit; indeed, he holds the record for the most wins there with six.
In 1988 he dominated qualifying like never before. Senna famously said in the spiritual manner only he could pull off, “I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously…I was driving it by a kind of instinct”.
In identical machinery to the very fluid, ever quick Alain Prost, Senna put his McLaren on pole – he out-qualified his team-mate by an unprecedented, almost unbelievable 1.43 seconds.
3. Toleman Podium - Monaco 1984
The was the race that announced Ayrton Senna to the world.
On only his 5th Formula 1 start and in sodden conditions around the tight Monte Carlo street circuit Senna dragged his Toleman from 13th on the grid (which was respectable enough) to 2nd in just 24 laps.
While closing in on Alain Prost in the lead, the stewards called a halt to proceedings after 31 laps as Senna shot into the lead. He was awarded 2nd on full-lap countback and would certainly have won had he been afforded another lap – it was an astonishing performance, one that displayed his genius.
2. Suzuka 1989 & 1990
In 1989 Prost and Senna were teammates at McLaren, but a year long feud had been simmering.
Prost had to beat Senna at Suzuka to be champion, and in the closing stages of the race Senna was on a charge in 2nd behind the Frenchman.
Late on, he lunged up the inside at the chicane, Prost turned in and the car slithered to a halt, locked together.
Prost retired, Senna was pushed by the marshals apparently re-joined the track illegally before speeding past Alessandro Nannini to victory – he was later disqualified, and felt robbed of his title1990 saw Prost at Ferrari and championship roles reversed at Suzuka – Senna decided that it was HIS time this time, and Prost wouldn’t finish.
At Turn 1 on Lap Senna ploughed his McLaren into Prost, taking them both out the race. Senna was champion in disgraceful fashion – It was the first evidence of a flawed genius.
1. The Lap of the Gods - Donington 1993
Widely regarded as his best drive.
On a soaking wet Sunday and having qualified 4th he dropped to 5th off the line.
Ayrton Senna quickly passed Schumacher after Redgate corner before passing Karl Wendlinger through the Craner Curves. Senna went after Damon Hill and took 2nd at McLean’s Corner before closing in on Alain Prost – 3 corners later the Brazilian dove past going into the Melbourne Hairpin, the penultimate corner, and led over the line.
By the end, Senna had lapped the entire field except for Hill who finished 1 minute and 23 seconds behind – truly astonishing.
Thanks for taking the time to read this article, words were provided by Rich Hoit from The Hard Compound.
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