The eighth race of this F1 season is taking place in Azerbaijan. Last year, the country hosted the F1 European GP. Ayrton Senna has never raced at the Baiku circuit, which was opened in 2016, but he has a solid track record on the few European GPs in which he took part.
The three-time champion competed just three times in the race: in 1984, 1985 and 1993. Senna scored two podiums, one win and one pole position. Take a look back at those races:
1984 European GP
The Nurburgring circuit hosted the 1984 European GP, and Senna had driven spectacularly on the same track just five months before, in the legendary Champions Race, in which he drove a Mercedes 190 E sedan. The Brazilian had beaten several motor sports icons, such as Alain Prost, Niki Lauda, James Hunt and Keke Rosberg.
But, in the F1 race, his Toleman’s performance wasn’t close to the one he achieved in the friendly race. The Brazilian started in 12th place and overtook three rivals before the first corner was over. However, he ended up getting caught up in an accident midway through the first lap and was forced to retire.
1985 European GP
In the following year, the European GP took place at Brands Hatch, in England, a circuit Ayrton Senna was very familiar with, since he had driven there for three years, in Formula Ford and F3 (from 1981 to 1983). In 1985, his Lotus’ Renault Engine performed very well in the training sessions and the Brazilian driver took the pole position with a time of 1min07s169, 0s313 faster than Nelson Piquet, the second in the starting grid with his Brabham. It was Senna’s sixth pole in the season, a number no driver would be able to match that year.
During the race, Senna kept the lead after the start and was responsible for the most memorable moment in the race: He forced a mistake by Keke Rosberg, who spun out and punctured a tire when he bumped into Piquet, who was right behind. As a sort of payback, the Finn closed the door on Senna when he was a backmarker, allowing Mansell to pass the Brazilian in a move by Williams to take Senna out of the lead of the race. The Britton won and Senna finished in second.
1993 European GP
The 1993 European GP, which took place at Donington Park, also in England, is undoubtedly the most memorable for F1 fans. Ayrton Senna drove brilliantly in the first lap, overtaking Michael Schumacher (Benetton), Karl Wendingler (Sauber) and both Williams, driven by Damon Hill and Alain Prost, in what is considered the best lap ever in the category.
Senna’s pit-stop strategy was also perfect, and he even took a few risks, driving on a wet track with dry-weather tires. The Brazilian took his amazing race to the next level by scoring the race’s fastest lap, which he completed by driving through the pit-lane, since Ayrton had studied the circuit and figured out that it was the shortest way. At the time, there was no speed-limit in the pits, and his McLaren flew through.
To cap off a perfect race, the McLaren driver finished 1 minute and 23 seconds before his closest rival, Damon Hill. Prost, in third, was lapped by the Brazilian.
Ayrton Senna’s statistics in European circuits:
As the birthplace of F1, Europe was where Ayrton Senna raced the most in his career. Take a look at his F1 track record in the Old Continent.
108 out of 161 GPs – 67%
28 out of 41 wins – 68%
41 out of 65 pole positions – 63%
56 out of 80 podiums – 70%