Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were the protagonists of great F1 duels on different moments of their careers. The rivalry reached its climax during the 1988, 1989 and 1990 seasons, when both drivers were the biggest names in the sport and had their ultimate face-off at the 1990 Japanese GP.
Take a look back at some their most memorable duels, with overtakes and even crashes between the two great champions.
1- 1988 Canadian GP
The race in Montreal took place on June 12, and was Ayrton Senna’s second win as a McLaren driver. His first one had taken place in San Marino, one month earlier. The race in Canada was also marked by the first head-to-head fight for first place between Senna and Prost – with the former overtaking the latter – in a duel featuring two McLarens.
2- 1988 French GP
Paul Ricard was one of the few circuits where Ayrton Senna didn`t win in his career. His best chance came in the 1988 season, when he had an intense fight with Prost for the victory. The Frenchman led the race from the green flag up to lap 36, when Senna took the lead after making a quicker pit-stop than his rival. The Brazilian held on to fist place between the 37th lap and the 60th but, after losing one of his gears, he saw Prost approaching and taking back the lead, to win after 80 laps in Le Castellet.
3- 1988 Hungarian GP
The smallest time difference between Senna and Prost in a fight for the victory took place at the finishing line of the 1988 Hungarian GP, when the Brazilian beat the Frenchamn for just 0s529 after 76 laps at Hungaroring. Senna led from start to finish and decided to spare his McLaren in the last few laps, but his teammate was almost able to surprise him.
4- 1988 Japanese GP
After a problem during the start at Suzuka, it looked like Senna had lost his chance to win the 1988 title. The Brazilian had the pole position, but his McLaren stalled and Ayrton was forced to push start his car. He fell down to 14th place and made an amazing recovery over the following laps. The high-point of his heroic win in Japan took place on lap 28, when Senna took the first place from Prost with a historic maneuver on the straight, making his Japanese fans go wild. It was the Brazilian’s first F1 title.
5- 1989 Monaco GP
The race in Monaco for the 1989 season was marked by Senna’s redemption in the Principality. One year after not finishing in Monte Carlo, even though he leading Prost by more than 50 seconds, the Brazilian wanted to get back on the track’s good graces. He had to give another great performance to win from start to finish. In the end, he won the McLaren duel by finishing 52 seconds ahead of the Frenchman.
6- 1989 Japanese GP
Even though He was 1s7 faster than Prost in the qualifying sessions, Senna ended up being overtaken by the Frenchman in the race that was going to decide the 1989 title. Ayrton needed a win to still have a chance of becoming champion in Australia, so he tried to overtake his teammate on lap 47, but the Frenchman crashed into him and immediately exited his car. Even with a broken front wing, Senna didn’t give up and went back to the track, determined to win. The Brazilian ended up being disqualified by the race officials after the controversial decision of not going the wrong way to exit after the crash with Prost. That meant the Frenchman was declared champion, thanks to a behind-the-scenes maneuver by his countryman, Jean-Marie Balestre, the FIA president at the time.
7-1990 Japanese GP
Senna`s payback was straight out of a movie script: this time, a crash between Senna and Prost gave the title to the Brazilian, Who became a two-time world Champion. After the race, Jackie Stewart interviewed Ayrton and criticized the maneuver. The answer given by the Brazilian became one of his most famous quotes: