In what was only his third F1 race, Ayrton Senna made his debut in Belgium, a country where he would come to win five times, at the Spa-Francorchamps raceway. His first race there, however, took place at Zolder, and the Brazilian was able to, once again, score points behind the wheel of a Toleman, finishing the race in sixth place. He had acquired his first point in F1 three weeks earlier, at the South African GP, the second race of the season.
Even with a weaker engine (a Hart), that Toleman had already been using since the previous season and that would only be updated for the fifth race in 1984, Senna stood out in Belgium. After starting in a mere 19th place, Ayrton made use of the warm-up time to make the final adjustments in the car.
At the start, Senna was forced to cut through the grass, when a driver stalled at the grid. As a result, he kept his original place in the field for the first nine laps. The Brazilian climbed to 18th place after overtaking Jacques Laffite in the 10th lap. Then, with Nigel Mansell (Lotus), Thierry Boutsen (Arrows) and Eddie Cheever (Alfa Romeo) retiring, he found himself in 15th place.
Ayrton had to overcome two problems in his car during the race: while the tank was full, he had to pace himself in order to not wear out his tires; and, when he was almost running on empty, he struggled to control the car, since it was understeering and the it felt sluggish and heavy.
After taking the 13th place, Senna made his only pit-stop to change his Pirelli tires. Right after the race’s midpoint, Ayrton benefited from Andrea De Cesaris’ and Teo Fabi’s retirements, jumping to 11th.
With less than 20 laps to go, Senna overtook Swiss Marc Surer (Arrows) and, right after that, on lap 54, Martin Brundle (Tyrell) had problems when exiting the box and Ayrton took the ninth place.
The Toleman driver’s next target was Renault’s Patrick Tambay. Ayrton was able to overtake him and was now just two positions away from repeating his sixth place at Kyalami (South Africa).
On lap 66, Nelson Piquet retired. After holding on to third place for most of the race, his Brabham’s BMW engine gave out when the Brazilian driver was in fifth.
That meant Ayrton Senna crossed the finish line in seventh place, but Stefan Bellof, who finished in sixth, was disqualified due to irregularities in his Tyrell. Even with all the problems, Ayrton Senna had another sixth-place finish, scoring for the second time in just three F1 races.
A very promising start toa 24-year-old talent – the youngest driver in the field, at the time.