The British Formula Three was the last step on the journey to Formula One. Two drivers faced each other in great duels throughout the 20-race season, fighting for the 1983 title: Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle, whose birthday is today.
Before the championship was decided in the last race, there was a big showdown between them in Oulton Park. Both were trying to win, and Senna saw an opportunity to overtake from the inside when Brundle braked early on West Surrey, but their cars collided and both ended up on the grass (check out the video).
“I was glued to his gearbox, on Cascades, and I was going much faster than him. I braked late and tried an inside overtake. I know he didn’t see me and cut me off when we were both entering the corner”, said Senna, in an interview to the local press after the race.
After that episode, things heated up in the category, and winning the title became a matter of honor for both Senna and Brundle.
Up until the final race, em Thruxton, Sena had won 11 times (nine of those wins took place in the first nine races, a historic record in the British F3). Martin Brundle had won seven races. And, after a few top-three finishes in races that Senna didn’t complete, whoever won the last race would be champion.
At the moment of truth, Senna took off in the lead, won the race and Brundle finished in third place. Senna’s secret to win the title was the duct tape he used to close the radiator’s air vent, causing the oil to heat up faster. After a few laps, Senna threw the tape away and drove his car towards the checkered flag.
After the fierce competition in F3, Sena and Brundle became friends in F1. Brundle’s best result, when they were both competing in the category (from 1984 to 1994), took place in Monza, during the 1992 season. The Britton, a Benetton driver at the time, finished in second place, only behind Senna’s McLaren.