From 1987 to 1993, the Asutralian Grand Prix closed out the season as a sort of an epilogue, as far as the championship went, since there was already a champion in place in all of those seasons.
In 1993, despite the Williams’ domination and Prost’s fourth title already in the bag, the race in Adelaide attracted more attention than in previous years. Ayrton Senna was saying goodbye to McLaren and Prost was retiring from Formula One. It would be the last ever duel between them, leaving a big void in the hearts of many motor sports fans.
Riccardo Patrese was also leaving Formula One. At the time, the Italian had started more races than any other driver, and competed for 17 seasons – a record broken in 2008 by Rubens Barrichello.
The atmosphere at McLaren’s garage was one of nostalgia, but only Jo Ramirez, the team’s technical coordinator, saw the tears that filled Ayrton Senna’s eyes before his last race for the British team.
Ramirez shouted into Senna’s year that he had done more than enough for the team since 1988. He was a three-time champion, with 34 victories for McLaren. But that could be a special triumph for everyone involved, and not just because of Senna’s farewell: if they won, they would take Ferrari’s place as the most winning team in Formula One history, with 104 victories.
As usual, Ayrton Senna was the fastest in the qualifying rounds, despite the season being marked once again by the Williams’ cars superior performance. The Brazilian scored the 62nd pole position in his career, beating Prost by 436 thousandths of a second. Damon Hill (Williams) and Michael Schumacher (Benetton) filled out the second row.
The start was the most dramatic part of the race. It was aborted twice, because Ukyo Katayama’s Tyrell and Eddie Irvine’s Jordan had engine troubles.
And he didn’t. He jumped ahead and started his last-ever spectacle through the streets of Adelaide.
In the first few laps, Senna was ahead of Prost, with Hill and Schumacher right behind them. Benetton’s German had problems in the 20th lap and had to retire. As the race progressed, Senna’s lead became wider.
Senna only lost the lead when he made a pit-stop in the 23rd lap, and retook it in the 29th. The checkered flag was waved and he scored his 41st win in 158 races up until then.
It was Senna’s last victory – his 35th for McLaren, with 46 pole positions and 477 points while in the British team.
On the podium, flanked by his Williams’ rivals, he took Prost’s left hand and raised it high, showing great respect for his greatest rival. The crowd cheered, knowing that it was the end of an era in Formula One.
After the race, Ayrton attended a concert by singer Tina Turner, who dedicated himthe song “Simply the Best”. Ayrton climbed on the stage much more timidly than he used the climb on the podium. Everyone cheered.
“I’m a fan, a big fan of his. He’s the best”, said Tina Turner while she hugged the three-time Formula One world champion.
He only lost the lead when he stopped to change tires on the 23rd lap, retaking the lead at lap 29, and crossed the finish line winning his 41st victory in the 158 Grands Prix he had competed in until then.