Ayrton Senna has Always made clear that one of his favorite F1 tracks was Spa-Francorchamps. It was no coincidence that the Brazilian driver won half of the races in which he took part at the Belgian circuit – five wins in ten contests.
Only Michael Schumacher has won more times than Senna at Spa-Francorchamps. The German won six times, but he was in many more races – 16, in total. But Senna’s record for most consecutive wins still stands. After winning for the first time in 1985, with Lotus, he started a spectacular streak with McLaren, from 1988 to 1991, with four wins at the Belgian race. Only Jim Clark had achieved the same feat, between 1962 and 1965.
Let’s take a look back at one single special moment in each of Senna’s five wins at Spa.
At the 1985 Belgian GP, Senna led almost from start to finish in a dominant performance, despite the water puddles on some spots. However, the Brazilian had to stop to put slick tires on, and came back in third place, behind Thierry Boutsen and Elio de Angelis, who were still using rain tires. Senna showed incredible control on a still wet track, overtaking both of them in less than a lap and regaining the race’s lead.
Ayrton Senna secured the 25th pole position in his career in 1988, in Belgium, becoming the record holder for the largest number of poles in the ‘80s – an incredible feat for a driver who had his start almost midway through the decade (1984).
In the race, Alain Prost had a better start and jumped ahead, but right after the Eau Rouge, Senna caught up to his McLaren teammate and made his move at the Kemmel Straight, overtaking him before the Les Combes Chicane still during the first lap. After that, Senna had a clear path to victory.
Known as “the King of Rain”, in Formula One, Senna was dominant all weekend, with a pole position and a win from start to finish. On Sunday, the day of the race, a downpour fell over Spa-Francorchamps, but Ayrton held on to the lead throughout the race, finishing ahead of Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell.
It rained so hard in Spa that some of the best drivers in the world were taking 2 minutes and 21 seconds to finish a lap – almost 30 seconds more than in the qualifying sessions. Ten drivers retired.
After leading from start to finish – but not without a lot of effort, since he had to keep the lead after three different starts – Ayrton Senna triumphed for the fourth time at the Belgian circuit in 1990. It was his 25th victory in F1, matching the number of wins achieved by Scotsman Jim Clark and Austrian Niki Lauda.
Senna was considered the favorite to win the race after taking the pole position with an 1-second advantage over Prost, who started in 2nd place with Ferrari. But he had a tough Sunday, in 1991. Due to gearbox problems, he lost the lead to Nigel Mansell (Williams) and Jean Alesi (Ferrari) during the race. But he recovered and took advantage of his rivals’ problems in order to win the race and secure a McLaren one-two, with Gerhard Berger in second.