Rivalry - Ayrton Senna vs Alain Prost


March 27, 2015
Featured
Roy Wolfgang


In the last hundred years of motorsport, there was a many great rivalries between drivers in every relevant championship. However, in the Formula 1, those rivalries were highly publicised and between some of the best drivers world has ever seen. In the sixties there were Jim Clark vs. Graham Hill and in the seventies there were clash between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. But in the late eighties, motorsport world witnessed a conflict between two legendary individuals, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

 

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It all started in 1988 when Senna joined the McLaren team and become a teammate with Prost. French driver was certainly affected by young Brazilian’s ambition and sharp driving style but first problems occurred during the Portuguese Grand Prix when Senna tried to block Prost in doubtful maneuver. During the 1989 season, their conflict intensified, first, during 1989 San Marino Grand Prix when Senna passed Prost after a restart, breaking their agreement that neither would get in each other’s way to the first corner to prevent contact. The highlight of the season is battle between Prost and Senna for championship title on the last race of the season in Suzuka. Prost tried to block Senna’s passing and caused both to crash, however, Prost left the race after the incident, Senna continued and won but was disqualified since his path back to the track after the crash was not legal. Accusations started to fly as Senna said that FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre (highly controversial figure) protected Prost and after the appeal from McLaren was denied, Prost become a 1989 F1 champion and Senna was even fined with 100.000$. That moment was very hard for Senna since he thought that everybody was against him.

However, in 1990 Prost moved to Ferrari and Senna stayed in McLaren and everything was set for another round of their rivalry. Year after that Suzuka race, both drivers was again in the Japan on the last race of the season. Senna on pole position and Prost behind him. At the start of the race, Prost had a better line with Senna beside him and while approaching the first corner, Senna refused to brake and hit Prost at very high speed. That, almost suicidal, move from Senna proved how extreme he was and how he would do anything to keep Prost from winning. Rivalry continued during 1991 and 1992 season and in 1993 Prost moved to Williams after Ferrari. Senna who thought that McLaren was not competitive enough, wanted to sign for Williams also but found out that in Prost’s contract there is a clause forbidding the Brazilian as a teammate. During a press conference, Senna called Prost a “coward”. However, in the end of 1993 season, Prost announce a retirement from Formula 1 but on 1st of May 1994 Senna was tragicaly killed during San Marino Grand Prix. Even though everybody thinked that Senna and Prost hated each other, Prost was a pallbearer at Senna’s funeral surprising fans and public and even said that part of him died that tragic day in San Marino. This shows that true sportsmen and great drivers like Prost and Senna never were in conflict filled with meaningless hate but in true rivalry with great respect and mutual admiration.

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