On January 20, 1994, Ayrton Senna had his first test behind the wheel of a Williams-Renault, his new team for that season. The Brazilian had just ended his successful partnership with McLaren – together, they had won three world titles and 35 races in Formula One.

Senna’s teammate in 1994 was Damon Hill, who had finished the previous season in third place and would be staying with Williams. The duo had driven their cars in the previous day (19), so TV stations could film them and promotional pictures could be taken. On the 20th, Ayrton started to test the car in earnest at the Portuguese circuit of Estoril.

The car was still the FW15 model that the team had used in 1993, but without the electronic components that had been banned by FIA in 1994. That meant the car didn’t have active suspension, traction control, electronic throttle control or anti-lock brakes (ABS).

Theoretically, it was very similar to the 1993 model, but, in practice, it was a different car from the one that had taken Alain Prost to his fourth world title, bringing the Frenchman’s career as an F1 driver to a close.

Senna took 42 laps in his first test at Estoril, and even though the day’s times weren’t made official for comparison purposes, the Brazilian was the quickest among the drivers who made tests. Ayrton expressed concern with the car’s instability, but complimented the power of the Renault V10 engine.

Williams would only take the new FW16 model to the track one month later, with training sessions at Silverstone, Paul Ricard an Imola, during the pre-season. The championship would be starting on March 27, with the Brazilian GP, in Sao Paulo, at the Interlagos Raceway.