When we talk about Ayrton Senna, we need another driver of the greatest one, Alain Prost. He was the different type driver with Senna, but he also had the outstandnig skill like the greatest Brazilian driver. Ayrton was the fastest man, on the contrary, this French driver was the smartest one. Both were eligible as the genius driver. Prost was the strategist of titling through sixteen races in the whole season, so he was called as “Mr. Professor”.
They sometimes antagonized each other with speaking out into a storm of abuse, however, Senna and Prost actually accepted the other as to be the best rival.
March 25, 1984 – Brazil GP “First Contact”
In 1983, Senna challenged to Formula-3 UK, 13 wins out of 21 races, and got the title with his remarkable technique. So he was offered that summer from the F1 top ranked team such as Williams, McLaren and Lotus or so, and then he drove their machine as test driver, negotiating with them on his contract.
But it was not easy to join Formula-One, These team required a large amount of his sponsor’s fee, or be as a second driver. Only one team was the new Toleman so that this new face could accept his condition of joining the highest competition in the motorsports. His debut was Brazil GP in his home country from the uncompetitive team in 1984.
The other Alain Prost left Renault team, and moved to McLaren in 1983. Senna started from 16th grid, and retired only 8 laps with turbo trouble. At the debut race, he had a hard time in home country.
In that time, Turbo engine was the height. Toleman used it of Hart too, but that engine was not enough speed and confidence to win the race. Senna was trouble with that engine through that season. On the other hand, Prost get the competitive TAG Porche engine, and in that season he made the battle with Niki Lauda – his teammate. The man won the Senna’s debut race was none other than Prost.
June 3, 1984 – Monaco GP “Monaco in Heavy Rain”
It was Monaco GP in ’84(round 6) that “Senna in Formula 1” all over the world. The final in the hard rain, many driver was out of the cource one after another. Senna who started at 13th position showed his technique and pass the machine. At 19th lap, he ranked up 2nd place. But Prost who started from pole position kept the top, and 35 seconds between two drivers. But Senna cought up him 3 seconds a 1 lap.
In 32nd lap, suddenly Jackie Iques who was competion chairman swung red flag that indicate “stop the race”. Senna passed Prost was already slow. At the moment, all people thought that Senna turned the tide, and win the race…
After all, the rank was decided at 31th lap(before final lap), Senna’s first victory was disappear. This decision was complaint because of 46 laps remaining, the timing of red flag and so on, beside being Toleman. But Senna’s running with fighting spirit and technique was praised.
After this race just finished, Senna said : “The others were dying me or Toleman to win in Monaco!”
April 12, 1986 – Spain GP “One Step Beyond”
Prost titled two consecutive seasons this year with four victories. Young Brazilian driver came up with the top ranked driver such as Prost, Pique, Mansell season by season so that Senna was in sight of their battlefield. Actually Senna showed us his remarkable skill at the qualifying session with 8 pole-positions. In spite of his pole position, he only had less competitive engine than the top team such as Porche or Honda, so he lost the race expected to win again and again. However, he won two races in this season with uncompetitive Renault engine.
A win of two victories was Spain GP. Starting from the pole-position on the grid, he continued to keep his position from some powerful drivers such as Pique, Mansell, Prost, and Rosberg. Mansell in Williams that they acquired the most powerful Honda engine was not able to accelerate his speed due to fuel saving at the beginning of race, however, around 30th lap he was amazing to catch up with Senna and he passed easily Prost and Pique. At last this England driver was successful in leading the race, passing Senna. But he unfortunately had to return the pit to replace his tyres at the 9 laps remaining. Again Ayrton lead the race with his advantage of 20 seconds. It seemed that Senna easily won the race at that, however, Mansell came back to the track at 3rd place with fresh tyres, trying to lead the race again. He was close to Senna 5.3 seconds behind, as a result he closed up by 3.8 seconds in the final lap. Mansell at last ran beside Senna at the last corner. Ayrton also accelerated to the floor, running through the finishing line. Their difference was slightly 0.0014 second between two drivers. This race was a valuable victory with holding his place.
After this race, Prost who didn’t battle with Senna was said to speak to Mansell about his block at the end of this race, “It was better if I stepped aside for you when you tried to pass me. If so, you could pass Ayrton.”
May 1, 1988 – San Marino GP “Senna-Prost Era”
In 1988. The Engine of HONDA was on the McLaren, its machine was droven by Prost and Senna. The most competitive team was born. McLaren was very systematic. HONDA was successful in titling Drivers and Constructors Champion in Williams last year. Prost was the most of win in F1 history(at that time). Already 16 times get pole position was Senna. It’s a perfect team.
Senna had a happening with the disqualify in opening round – Brazil GP, but next round in San Marino, he was beautiful win. In the qualify session, Senna and Prost was on front and row behind 2 second more. In the final, Senna overpowered that he laped the place of 3rd. The age of Senna and Prost just opened!
September 25, 1988 – Portugal GP “Bad Feeling”
Team of McLAREN faced to the 1988 season with the system of jointed number-one between French driver and Brazilian driver.
And there was no competitve driver and team like them in McLaren. However they seemed to be good team work and win the race, it was Portugal GP that clearly they changed their attitude as the rival of title each other.
Prost got the pole position in that GP after six race, but he was passed by Senna after the race just started. At the end of opening lap, Prost and Senna were side by side. Senna pushed him to the side of pit wall.
We talked later that Prost’s sabotage caused Senna to do so, and it was fact that Alain on ahead pushed his teammate to the outside at the opening lap. After all Prost finished that race at 1st place. On the other hand, Senna was retired with trouble and finished at 6th place. That was the beginning of their bad feeling between two drivers.
October 30, 1988 – Japan GP “First Crown”
It was not too much to say that Japan GP in 1988 was legendary. At Spain GP – before that race, Drivers Point of Prost was 90pt(valid 84pt), and Senna’s point was 79pt. Senna had to win this race to get the title of driver’s championships at first.
In the qualifying session, he got the pole position to only record a super lap in 1:41.853. But in the final session, he stalled the engine at the starting grid. For the home straight of Suzuka is a down gentle slow, the machine began to start slow somehow, but in a split second he was passed by other many machines.
The top was Prost who started at 2nd grid. But Senna tried to catch up him in this in a fix. At the end of opening lap, he was 8th place soon. And he sided with rain coming down, at the end of 11th lap – 3rd place. At last he reached Prost at 20th lap.
In 27th lap, Prost was trouble with back maker at the chicane. At once Senna passed by taking advantage of his unguarded moment, and he was top at last. Senna finished 1st, and Prost was 2nd. In this way, Senna get the title of his wish at first.
In 5 years season of him – 78 race from his debut, it was very dramatic title just like Senna.
April 23, 1989 – San Marino GP “Broken Tacit Agreement”
In 1989 – the start of year of the natural aspiration engine, Senna and Prost made battle from the opening of the season. At the beginning of the season, among them, something was promised not to go down together – who will go first at the start have the right to go to the 1st corner.
However this agreement was broken in 2nd round, San Marino GP. After the race just started, Prost at the 2nd grid passed by Senna who get the pole position, and Prost was 1st position. But before 1st corner, Senna passed by him again, and went into the 1st corner. After all, the race was finished – Senna won and Prost lose. After the race, Prost blamed Senna officially. But Senna said, “I was first at the start, specially I would make away for him! I don’t remember to make absurd promise!”
Team of McLAREN HONDA get the title of drivers and constructor in this season, too. But the contrary to this result, the team was continued to be trouble with the bad feeling of two drivers.
October 22, 1989 – Japan GP “Nightmarish Chicane”
The fearest situation came true in 1989 Japan GP. In that year too, only two driver, Senna and Prost, competed with the title, and result was decided in Suzuka.
In the end of the season, Senna continued to be retired with unlacky problem, and he had to win the race of Japan and Australia to get the title. On the other hand, Prost had advantage who continued to blame his team and engine. What a irony! And the day of showdown had come.
Prost who good started at 2nd grid, and he run the top in good condition. Senna tried to pass him, but could not do easily.
At the chicane in 47th lap – the fate lap, Senna went inside Prost in a rare chance. But Prost shut the door and the machines of both drivers stopped. Only Senna began to run again, but after the race he disqualified for his behavior. Moreover he was judged a dangerous driver by FIA…
September 30, 1990 – Spain GP “It’s a Prost”
In 1990, Prost transfered from McLAREN that he was in long time to Ferrari. Prost separeted from Senna and competed with him to get the title three times. Ferrari that was on V12 engine which was heavy and no good accelation , but good stability was more competitive for Prost. On the other McLAREN that had a champion driver Senna and the ultimate engine HONDA V10 was a short of stability.
After 13 rounds, Senna was 6 wins, Prost 4 wins. If Senna won Spanish GP, he could be a champion without next Japanese GP. Senna’s place was just opposite to Prost’s one last year, and the championship was already the final stage.
Spanish GP – Jerez is a course of tequnical and middle speed.
It seemed in qualifying session that Ferrari had advantage because of the superior driverbility. But who get the pole position was Senna. Prost managed to get the 2nd place. And he faced the final session preparing for the settion of race.It was the exchange of tire of 26th lap that both two decided win and lose. Firstly, Prost behind Senna was pit-in. Senna was pit-in and returned to course speedy next lap. But when he returned, Prost went ahead in a time. Prost transfered his tanacity of the title to the management to win the race, and he finished. This race was just like Prost.
October 21, 1990 – Japan GP “Nightmare Again”
The crush of same Suzuka circuit and same drivers was diffrenet with one last year.
In the qualifying session, Senna get the pole position and Prost was 2nd place. The situation was for Prost very difficult because if he couldn’t finish this race at 2nd place, Senna would be a champion without next race. Prost could start in front of Senna at the start. It seemed to be a exciting race because Senna was behind Prost who was disadvantage.
However, next moment, Senna forced his way in. And then both machines went out the cource of 1st corner.
Senna became two times the champion all at soon. It was very unpleasant feeling. He was supported by the feeling of Japanese fan that he is the pilot that always played fair in any difficult situation. Many Japanese of his fan were disappointed in his behavior if he didn’t do that on purpose.
But it was only Prost that the egoistic instinct of Senna awaked that he got anything he like somehow. The factor like Prost of Senna was awaken by all kind of Prost’s criticism to him. Or, Senna mabye had the instinct too that leaped at not an hornor, money or the title but game before his eyes. Anyway it was sure that he showed us the egoistic emotion after that race.
July 28, 1991 – German GP “Prost left”
Ferrari was even less competitive in 1991. Alain got three 2nd-place, however, he could not win only one race without battle between Senna and him. If we insist, it was a little battle of 2nd place in France GP.
A French driver was not like himself at all in Germany GP. Ferrari 642 launched in this season was clearly poor machine, however, their competitive power was improved by 643 launched in France, so Prost first time in this season topped Ayrton Senna in not only the qualifying session but also the race. Senna at the beginning of this season won the 4 consecutive races, however, Williams lead the season with well-developed machine since Canada GP that they monopolized the front-row at the qualifying session. Mansell and Patrase also did so with a lot of margin in Germany GP’s qualyfing, then outran McLaren and Ferrari in a race. Senna and Prost made their battle behind Williams. Prost tried to overtake Senna, but McLaren number-one driver made efforts to keep his position. Ferrari veteran driver impatiently tried to pass Senna at the chicane corner from outside at 38th lap. Finally he failed to overtake and run through the chicane, besides he stopped his machine due to following car.
Despite more competitive machine than Senna’s one, he had never passed Senna and resulted in retire, being unlike Professor. Prost said in a TV program after this race that Senna was a very dangerous driver, however, it was definitely clear that he failed completely to beat Senna in his race.
He retired 4 times last season, but his retire was no less than 7 in this season, and he always criticized uncompetitive and unreliable Ferrari machine. Ferrari suddenly announced that they released Prost from Ferrari on October 29 before the last race. Prost could not keep his seat of next season, and he would be off the 1992 whole season.
October 20, 1992 – Japan GP “Lonesome Senna”
Ayrton Senna didn’t have his most rival driver Alain Prost in 1992 season. The ex-champion driver left Ferrari in 1991 and took the whole season off for his refresh. It seemed that no one could match Senna, titling three champion driver last year, in this season, however, the lead was Williams during a year. Williams succeed in developing the most competitive and reliable active suspnesion system, so no drivers could follow them, and a England uncrowned driver won 5 consecutive races from the opening grand-prix South Africa to San Marino GP.
Ayrton stopped Williams’ 6 straight at Monaco GP, showing his way as the title of Monaco Meister. Even the genius Brazilian driver could not cover a large gap of machine performance between MP4/7 and FW14. Senna had a problem of his low performanced machine through the whole season, besides, Honda’s announcement on September hit and kicked him that he lost the best partner beyond business until the end of 1992 season. He would like to round off Honda’s career in its home country by presenting a victory, however, his race ended easily by engine trouble in only 3th lap. Japan GP was just representative of McLaren Honda’s slump.
Senna wanted Williams’ seat next season with the outstanding performance because he knew well that he was not confident with challenging to title four. To his surprise, the driver who had already reserved Williams’ seat next year was Alain Prost, no less.
March 10, 1993 – South-Africa GP “New Battle Stage”
That season was difficult for Senna because McLaren lost the Honda engine.
In 1993, opening GP of South Africa, Prost won that come-back first race without his one year blank. But Senna too finished 2nd place with McLaren that was on no competitive Ford V8 eingine, customer spec. Next GP, Senna won the race in Brazil. God’s help probably contributed much toward him. And he controled the European GP which was drastic race by rain on and off.
But after European GP, Prost said “Their energy will not last long! Please show our race in the summer.” Such Prost words came true. To defeat Williams superior than McLaren was too difficult for Senna, and then he couldn’t only stand the commendation platform in that season after Monaco GP except for the winning the race of Japanese and Australia GP.
Both drivers didn’t make a political bargain each other before, and run the race fair and square. It was sure that their battle went into the new round.
November 3, 1993 – Australia GP “Settlement”
Senna and Prost hated and competed with not only thier driving skill but also their life work and sense of value each other. It was symbol of the event of ’90 Japanese GP. They competed in not only the circuit but polotical stage. But Senna was recognized as the top driver in the Formula 1 from that race, and Prost lost that status. But Prost would not give in easily, though he rest for one year in 1992, he came back and beat Senna, and got the title of championship 4th times.
But Senna was ironically excited by Prost. In 1993’s Australian GP after Prost already got the title, Senna showed his will and then he put down Prost and finished 1st place. When he finished, Prost celebrated his victory(above picture), and he said, “I wil never criticize him.” Senna polished up his skill and man of character with the battle of Prost.
In 1994, Prost contracted with Renault, and was engaged in the public relation of family car. He became a colleague of Senna that drove the machine of Williams Renalut. In the fact Prost was in San Marino GP, which was final race for Senna, as a member of Renault. Among Senna ran in the qualifying session, Prost called to Senna on the radio, “Hello, Senna! How have you been? Please win the race soon.” Senna replied “A hello for my friend Alain, I miss you.”