Sports has always witnessed a few iconic battles of their own kind, cricket fans name it The Ashes or The Indo-Pak ties; soccer fans best remember it as a derby or an El Classico; tennis fans would bank on Rafael Nadal taking on Roger Federer; but having witnessed all of these, I have always thought while these go on in some part of the globe, there has always been a rivalry left well behind.
Being a petrol-head and a motorsport freak, I have always been wondering time and again about this forgotten epic battle that almost took the eye off the rest of the field for a decade! While going through so many ideas on a topic to write, well of course, on a serious note finishing up my noodles, I thought what could be better than publishing about arguably the most famous battle of all time in the Formula 1 history : The late Ayrton Senna-Alain Prost tussle. Well then, a nice idea to kick-off blogging at autospace.co. With a strong racing foundation back home and two F3 championships (a French and an European) under his belt, Frenchman Alain Prost raced in Formula 1 for the first time for the Mclarens in 1980. After switching teams from Mclaren to Renault, Prost was back at Mclaren for the 1984 season. Having won two championship titles already with McLaren in the forgone seasons (’85 and ’86), the Frenchman was riding high at the British outfit.
Meanwhile, a charismatic Brazilian had forced his way up to Formula 1 in 1984, when Toleman first signed Ayrton Senna. Senna burst into the scene with his breathtaking drive at the 1984 Grand Prix at Monaco, where he stood second to Alain Prost’s flying Mclaren. With ambitions too high to be satisfied by Toleman, Senna moved his way up to first Lotus in’85 and then to Mclaren in ’88.
The stage was set for the biggest spectacle of the century to unleash in the motorsport arena as Senna joined Prost at The Mclaren.
The amazingly talented duo set up a treat for Mclaren as the 1988 season was literally, all about the two McLarens bursting past each other. The Mclarens won an arrogant 15 out of 16 Grand Prixs with Senna, the eventual champion conquering 8 of them. This was an indication of something unexpected for the further seasons and as it turned out, 1989 season saw Prost taking Senna out at the Suzuka chicane at the season-ending Japanese Grand Prix for his 3rd championship title.
The scores had to be settled and this time, the ball was in Ayrton Senna’s court. The stage was set up at the same Suzuka circuit but the players were, swapped. This time, Ayrton Senna would win his 2nd championship if Alain Prost was not to finish, and inevitably, Senna would take out Alain Prost on the first corner, thus becoming a double World Champion.
The story after this, saw Senna winning the Championship in ’91 as Prost struggled with his Ferarri and was ultimately fired at the end of the season. Prost joined Williams for the ’93 season, after serving as TV commentator for 1992, and went on to win his fourth Championship. The retirement of Prost from Formula 1 in ’93, saw Senna joining Williams for the ’94 season, in which the infamous crash at the Imola took place. Prost meanwhile, went on to be a TV commentator and an advisor for Mclaren before buying the then Ligier team in 1997, which he renamed as Prost Grand Prix. He had to ultimately shut it down in 2001, citing political and financial reasons.
The 1980s indeed saw two legendary drivers fight it out for supremacy. While many engage themselves in figuring out the best among the two, I like to admire them both and their charm, and their battle, and their spirit for the sport, and ……..I could carry on forever. While one is regarded as the best racer, the sport has ever seen; the other stands as the driver to have won the most number of World Championships, only next to the legendary Michael Schumacher and the great Juan Manuel Fangio.
Its time to put a full stop to this article of mine, as I take a sip of the coffee besides my laptop and settle my goose bumps I felt while typing this down; But wait,
I would rather end it with an exclamatory mark! If you know what I mean!