It was the month of September 1993. Alain Prost was one of the greatest stars of Formula 1 along with Ayrton Senna , with whom he shared a rivalry that is remembered to this day, and just before the Portuguese Grand Prix race That year he announced his retirement.
The still three-time world champion had the opportunity to be crowned for the fourth time in Estoril, and became the third driver in history not to defend his crown the following season, after Jackie Stewart in 1973 and Nigel Mansell in 1992. However, He still had to finish off the heroic deed in Portuguese territory, but the 23 points he took from Damon Hill seemed irretrievable.
The third in discord was the Brazilian with whom he fought so much in the past, Senna, who was even worse in the general classification, since he only had 53 units, compared to 81 for Williams’ Frenchman.
On Saturday, the day on which Prost confirmed his goodbye to the Great Circus, the rivals of the Grove team could do nothing, since they were almost a second behind the duo formed by Hill and the one who was running for four-time champion.
However, the one who would be one of the heirs to the legacy of Prost in McLaren appeared on the scene, a very young Mika Hakkinen who surpassed Senna by just a few thousandths. The man from São Paulo admitted on that occasion that he did not expect to be overtaken by the Finn, and despite the fact that the Vantaa man abandoned the race on lap 32 due to an accident, he left such an impression that the bright future that awaited him could already be glimpsed in Woking, which culminated in his two world titles in 1998 and 1999 .
“In the middle of the season, the car wasn’t as quick, and Senna was losing a lot of time to Prost,” Hakkinen said at the time. “Ayrton had lost motivation, and before Estoril he felt like he wasn’t getting the most out of his performance, and his teammate hadn’t put too much pressure on him, so I came in and kicked his ass.”
Already on Sunday, all eyes were on the one who could win his fourth World Cup, a figure that only Juan Manuel Fangio had achieved to date. At the start, the Finn making his McLaren debut took the lead, but Prost soon regained the lead from Jean Alesi and his Ferrari, while both Woking cars were forced to retire.
Thus, the fight remained in the hands of the Frenchman and another young man who was making his way in Formula 1, a Michael Schumacher who already knew what it was like to win in the highest category, but who was still far from being the legend in the one who became, and who did not think that he would succeed the champion the following year with his Benetton.
On lap 30, the German took the lead, and from then on, for the rest of the test made up of 71 laps, he held on with an iron fist without giving up a single meter, leaving Williams’ Frenchman relegated to second position, but that was worth it to win the championship after Hill was only third.
In front of 55,000 spectators, Alain Prost made history , and did not hesitate to display a flag of his country in the lap of honour. On the podium, Michael Schumacher, who won for the second time in his life, and his Williams teammate, doused him with champagne before explaining how his race went.
“Hakkinen was very early at the start, I had to give in and brake very early to avoid a touch. After some attacks from Schumacher, who did not hesitate to swerve at the end, I preferred not to take risks,” said the Frenchman.
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