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Ayrton Senna: 1960-1994: Race Car Driver

Proved His Mettle In The Rain

It was raining in Monaco on race day and Senna, who excelled under wet conditions, took it as his chance to make a move. By the seventh lap, he had moved ahead to sixth place. Senna managed to avoid a series of crashes that took out several race leaders and, though the race was stopped in the 31st lap due to increasingly treacherous conditions, Senna had proven that his talents put him at the front of F1 competition, even if his substandard car did not.

Senna held the Lotus team, of which champions Jim Clark and Emerson Fittipaldi were alumni, in high regard, despite the fact that it had been in a slump since the death of team founder Colin Chapman. Lotus bought out Senna's contract with Toleman and Senna set his sights on returning as a championship contender. He won his first F1 Grand Prix in a Lotus at Estoril under wet conditions, and followed it with another win at Spa in Belgium. But Lotus could not keep up with Senna, and he moved to the McLaren team in 1988. There, reigning champion Alain Prost welcomed his new and promising teammate—at first.

After a lackluster 1987 season, the McLaren team came back in 1988 with a more competitive turbo engine, and Prost found himself embroiled in what would become one of the bitterest rivalries in motor sports. There was no friendly competition between the teammates. Senna was aggressive and impulsive on the track and beat Prost in the 1988 World Championship with eight wins to seven. While Senna thrived on the confrontational rivalry, Prost did not. The fire was stoked further when Prost won the 1989 World Championship after the two McLaren cars collided during the penultimate race of the season, in Suzuka, Japan, taking Senna out of championship contention. Prost left McLaren after the incident to drive for Ferrari.

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyAyrton Senna: 1960-1994: Race Car Driver Biography - Outstanding Kart Career, Charged Into Formula One, Proved His Mettle In The Rain, Carved History With Mclaren