SportF1Ayrton Senna's last title in Formula 1

Ayrton Senna's last title in Formula 1

Today, October 20, is the anniversary of the eighth and last F1 world championship for a Brazilian. It arrived in 1991, when Ayrton Senna reached the Suzuka circuit for his third crown in the highest category of world motorsports.

Williams had overtaken McLaren in developing its car by the halfway point in the season, but Senna was the championship leader largely thanks to his four wins in a row at the start of the 1991 season. At the time, Mansell had only six points compared to 40 for Ayrton.

That difference proved crucial at the end of the year, as Senna found it very difficult to win again. He would do it in Hungary and in Belgium, after a drought of five races and those triumphs ended up being vital to keep Mansell at a safe distance.

The strategy in the Japanese GP 1991 of F1

Arriving at Suzuka with a 16-point lead in the world championship, Senna needed only five points to be champion in Japan regardless of Mansell’s result. That is to say, with the score table of those years (10-6-4-3-2-1), the Williams had to win or be second to stay with the chance of being crowned in the Australian GP that closed the season, though it depended on Senna’s outcome.

But McLaren’s strategy for the Japanese event was a complete success. With the advances made in the MP4/6 of Senna and Berger, the team planned for the Austrian to break away in the lead while Ayrton kept the Williams of Mansell and Ricardo Patrese behind. It was the same tactic they had planned for the Spanish GP three weeks earlier, only in Barcelona Senna and Berger didn’t have the necessary pace in their cars. At Suzuka, the home of Honda , the situation would be very different.

And by way of thanks for the services rendered, Ron Dennis, McLaren team manager, had agreed with Senna that, if possible, the victory would go to Berger, a great friend of the Brazilian, who had not yet won with McLaren.

The 1991 Japanese GP race that crowned Senna three-time champion

In principle, the strategy worked. Berger took pole for the second race in a row and held the lead from the start, while Senna had Mansell behind. The Englishman tried everything to pass Ayrton, as he knew he had to do it quickly so that Berger wouldn’t escape. However, Mansell saw that he could not with Senna and the error soon arrived.

On lap 9, the Englishman went too fast into the first corner and put both wheels on the left side of his car off the track. Mansell instantly lost control of his Williams and went into the large gravel trap located in that sector. In the middle of the dust, the “Lion” tried to accelerate, but his FW14 was stuck and he would only get out of there with a tow.

Ayrton Senna, McLaren Honda, Gerhard Berger, McLaren Honda

Ayrton Senna, McLaren Honda, Gerhard Berger, McLaren Honda

1 / 5

Photo de: Sutton Motorsport Images

Nigel Mansell, Williams

Nigel Mansell, Williams


Foto de: LAT Images

Nigel Mansell, Williams, Ayrton Senna, McLaren

Nigel Mansell, Williams, Ayrton Senna, McLaren

3 / 5

Photo by: LAT Images

Nigel Mansell, Williams tour

Nigel Mansell, Williams gira

4 / 5

Photo by: LAT Images

Nigek Mansell, Williams in the gravel

Nigek Mansell, Williams en la grava

5 / 5

Photo by: LAT Images

With the title assured, Senna wanted to prove to the world that he was the best driver in Formula 1. He went with everything towards Berger, who without resistance let him pass. The Austrian sought to stay close to Ayrton, turning in similar lap times. However, with a broken exhaust on his Honda engine, he lost power and had to start taking care of his machine.

But that career belonged to Berger, though perhaps he didn’t know it. And so it was: Senna made the last lap slowly and let his teammate pass a few meters from the checkered flag…

Take a look at the photos at the top of the article to see how the race went

Senna’s criticism of the FIA also with the 1991 title

After celebrating on the Suzuka podium alongside Berger and Riccardo Patrese (he finished third), Senna was tough in the post-race press conference. He criticized the FIA and Jean-Marie Balestre , president of the highest body and responsible for his disqualification from the 1989 Japanese GP after the controversial accident with Alain Prost. The punishment that Senna received prevented him from being the champion that year.

Senna also spoke of the 1990 title, which he won after hitting Prost at the first corner of the Japanese GP as revenge. He admitted that the accident had been deliberate, but made clear his frustration with the fact that the first starting position had been changed to the dirty side of the track on that occasion.

Senna’s promising future… and abrupt end

Despite those controversial statements, Senna was the big name of that era of Formula 1. There was no doubt: with his third title in four years, Ayrton was the driver to beat.

Therefore, at 31 years of age, who could put a ceiling on the Brazilian? Unfortunately, that third title, Brazil’s eighth in F1, would be the last. Harmed by the supremacy of Williams in the following two years, Senna could do nothing to prevent the consecration of Mansell in 1992 and Prost in 1993.

In search of that lost success, he signed with Williams for 1994, but the car that he considered “from another planet” had changed and would not exist again.

In any case, the accident on the sixth lap of the 1994 San Marino GP put an end to Senna’s life and by that quirk of fate he ended up in the history books with only three world championships.

Today, many years after the day he was last crowned world champion, his reign remains intact thanks to the passion he still arouses among motorsports fans.

And now remember the 20 highlights of Ayrton Senna’s career in F1:

(Click on ‘Full version’ at the end of the article if the images do not load)

South African GP, 1984 – First points and physical problem

GP de Sudáfrica, 1984 – Primeros puntos y problema físico

1 / 20
In his second race Senna already scored points. At the Kyalami circuit he took an impressive sixth place in a mid-grid car, the Toleman. However, in pain after the test, the driver had to be removed from his car. Senna had run much of the Grand Prix with muscle spasms.

Photo by: XPB Images

Monaco GP, 1984 – First podium

GP de Mónaco, 1984 – Primer podio

2 / 20
Senna ‘entered the map’ of F1 in his sixth race. Employing all his talents on the wet track, he passed world champions such as Niki Lauda and Keke Rosberg and finished second. The test was neutralized with a red flag at the moment in which the Brazilian approached Alain Prost, winner of that race.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

Portuguese GP, 1985 – First pole position, first victory and dominance

GP de Portugal, 1985 – Primera pole, primera victoria y dominio

3 / 20
In the second race of the 1985 season, Senna managed to start first and was unrivaled in the deluge that fell on the Estoril circuit. He won by over a minute, leading every lap and also taking the fastest race lap for the first time in F1.

Photo by: LAT Images

Spanish GP, 1986 – Victory by one hundredth and leadership of the World Championship

GP de España, 1986 – Victoria por una centésima y liderato del Mundial

4 / 20
Senna took the lead in F1 for the first time in one of the most sensational finishes in history. After changing tyres, Nigel Mansell reduced Senna’s gap to the front of the pack in the opening laps. The Englishman came out of the last corner of Jerez with greater speed, taking advantage of his greater grip and came to stand beside Ayrton, who nevertheless won by 0.014 seconds.

Photo by: XPB Images

Monaco GP, 1987 – New Mr. Monaco?

GP de Mónaco, 1987 – ¿Nuevo Mr. Mónaco?

5 / 20
After starting second, Senna saw Nigel Mansell retire after a mechanical failure on his Williams and took victory. It was the first of his six wins in Monaco, where he holds the record to this day.

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Monaco GP, 1988 – The biggest mistake

GP de Mónaco, 1988 - El mayor error

6 / 20
A year after that triumph, Senna made the biggest mistake of his career. An error that he himself considered important for his maturation in F1. He was leading the test in Monte Carlo by 50 seconds ahead of Prost, but he did not slow down. With 11 laps to go he made a mistake and hit the barriers at the entrance of the tunnel, losing a victory, but gaining learning.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

Canadian GP, 1988 – Defeat Prost on track

GP de Canadá, 1988 – Derrota a Prost en la pista

7 / 20
After a difficult start at McLaren, with two retirements and a loss to his teammate Prost, Senna passed the Frenchman on the track in Montreal to win one of the races he valued the most in his career, since for the first time he triumphed in a direct duel with the rooster

Photo by: Tom Haapanen

Japanese GP, 1988 – The first title

GP de Japón, 1988 – El primer título

8 / 20
The Brazilian had the opportunity to seal his first title in Japan. However, he stalled his car before the start, when he was starting from pole. His luck was that the straight of the Suzuka circuit was downhill, which helped him get his car moving. He went from 14th to first in 27 laps. He won the race and took the title.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

San Marino GP, 1989 – The start of his battle with Prost

GP de San Marino, 1989 – El inicio de su batalla con Prost

9 / 20
In 1988 there was a gentleman’s agreement at McLaren: Senna and Prost could not dispute the position in the first corner of each race. However, at the second round of 1989, at Imola, Senna lost position at the start and regained it by passing Prost on first braking. That generated the first crisis between the two, and started what became the greatest rivalry in F1 history.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

Japanese GP, 1989 – Accident with Prost and lost title in dispatches

GP de Japón, 1989 – Accidente con Prost y título perdido en los despachos

10 / 20
Senna and Prost’s feud peaked in 1989 at Suzuka. Senna lost first place at the start and attacked Prost throughout the race. The Brazilian attempted to pass the Frenchman with seven laps to go and was hit by Prost. Alain retired, but Senna used loopholes that were not allowed and continued. He won, but was disqualified for race direction and Prost was champion. Senna felt how the FIA, with a French president, had given the title to a French driver.

Photo by: LAT Images

Italian GP, 1990 – The bet and the end of the curse at Monza

GP de Italia, 1990 - La apuesta y el fin de la maldición en Monza

11 / 20
Senna had struggled at the previous three Italian GPs while leading. Disputing the title with Prost –already at Ferrari–, the 1990 race was very important. Before the test, knowing the relevance, Ayrton made a bet with the McLaren boss that if he won they would let him keep his car. Senna did not tremble: he took pole, led all the laps and won for the first time in Monza.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

Japanese GP, 1990 – Revenge

GP de Japón, 1990 – La venganza

12 / 20
A year later, the situation was the opposite of 1988. Prost had to win in Japan and Senna, who started from pole, could be champion. After the refusal of the FISA (the highest body of motorsport) to change the side from which the author of the pole on the grid (the dirty side), Senna lost first place to Prost at the start and crashed intentionally against the French in the first corner. Senna was champion and took the blame for the accident a year later.

Photo by: Jean-Francois Galeron

Brazilian GP, 1991 – The prophet in his land… without gears

GP de Brasil, 1991 – El profeta en su tierra... sin marchas

13 / 20
After years of trying and having bad luck at the Brazilian GP, redemption came in 1991. But not without drama. Senna managed to hunt down Riccardo Patrese’s Williams in intermittent rain, but lost fifth and third gear, forcing him to stay in sixth for the closing laps. In the end, Senna won, but due to the physical effort they had to extract him from his car.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

Japanese GP, 1991 – The three-time championship

Nigel Mansell, Williams, Ayrton Senna, McLaren

14 / 20
After seeing Williams far superior in the second half of the 1991 season, Senna needed calm to become champion. The Brazilian driver deliberately blocked Mansell at the Japanese GP, until the British lost patience on lap 9, went off the track and gave the third championship title to the Brazilian. In the end, Senna gave up the win to teammate Gerhard Berger.

Photo by: LAT Images

Monaco GP, 1992 – Taming the ‘Lion’

GP de Mónaco, 1992 – Domando al 'León'

15 / 20
Senna once again beat Mansell for his fifth victory in Monaco. The ‘León’, who was leading, had been forced to stop in the pits due to a tire problem. With used compounds in the closing laps, Senna had to use all his coolness and skill to keep the Williams behind and secure his fifth win in the Principality.

Photo by: LAT Images

Brazilian GP, 1993 – A tremendous victory against the ‘Torcida’

GP de Brasil, 1993 – Victoria apoteósica frente a la 'Torcida'

16 / 20
Despite an inferior car, a penalty, torrential rain and strong opposition from his rivals, Senna put on one of his magical performances and pulled off an impressive victory at Interlagos in 1993. The euphoria was so great that the crowd invaded the track to celebrate with the idol, causing one of the most iconic scenes in F1 history.

Photo by: LAT Images

European GP, 1993 – The best first lap in history

GP de Europa, 1993 – La mejor primera vuelta de la historia

17 / 20
In the rain, Senna ruled. And it was like that on F1’s only visit to Donington Park. He started fourth, dropped to fifth place and finished the first lap first. From there, he only had to control the test and keep the victory.

Photo by: LAT Images

Monaco GP, 1993 – Bye, Bye Mr. Hill

GP de Mónaco, 1993 – Bye, Bye Mr. Hill

18 / 20
Senna dethroned Graham Hill as ‘Mister Monaco’ on his last visit to the street circuit. This time he was lucky: Prost failed at the start and Schumacher broke his engine. The victory came easy.

Photo by: Rainer W. Schlegelmilch

Australian GP, 1993 – The 41st and the last

GP de Austrália, 1993 – La 41ª y la última

19 / 20
After failing to match Williams in the second half of the 1993 season, Senna ended the year by winning twice, in Japan and Australia. Those were his last two wins. In his latest conquest, the Brazilian took the opportunity to pay tribute to his rival Prost, who was retiring from F1 that day.

Photo By: Sutton Motorsport Images

San Marino GP, 1994 – The last pole

GP de San Marino, 1994 - La última pole

20 / 20
Despite the tragic ending, the 1994 Imola test marked Ayrton Senna’s 65th and final pole position in F1. That was the record for pole positions in the championship until the 2006 Bahrain GP, when Michael Schumacher equaled the Brazilian. With 68, Schumacher was surpassed by Lewis Hamilton in 2017, who is already well over 70.

Photo by: LAT Images

Schedules of the Valencia GP of MotoGP in Cheste and how to see it

The Cheste circuit hosts this weekend, from November 4 to 6, the 2022 MotoGP Comunitat Valenciana GP. See the schedules and all the information.

"Don't talk to me!": Danni Büchner makes a clear announcement to hated party guests

Danni Büchner is invited to Sam Dylan's Halloween party. But the "Goodbye Germany" emigrant has no desire for many other party guests. And find clear words.

King Charles III Portrait now on the first coin: Serious change to the Queen

Charles III first coins with his portrait are there. Coin lovers immediately discover two striking differences.

Unknown colourfulness

Bird Species Discovered on Islands in Indonesia

Braking was tricky

Apart from that, everything worked like a picture book for the railway world record in Switzerland