F1’s Forgotten genius
The following year, however, Senna
gained the upper hand politically within
the team and Prost’s head dropped.
“Psychology plays a huge part in driving,”
says Prost, “so, for example, seeing an
engine crate arriving from Honda with
‘Special to Senna’ on it… What does that
mean? Is he getting better engines? For
me, there was a huge difference in the
On pace, Senna dominated again in ’ 89,
but a couple of errors and some unreliability
for the Brazilian allowed Prost four wins and
a healthy points lead late on. The infamous
clash at the chicane in Suzuka eliminated
Prost, whereas Senna carried on to win.
However, his exclusion for bypassing the
chicane handed a third title to Prost.
Alain’s decision to quit McLaren after losing
his alpha-male status was inevitable. After
six seasons, and three championships, it
was hard to say au revoir, but he says he has
no regrets allowing Senna into “his” team.
“Yes, without Ayrton maybe I would
have two, three, four more championships,”
he reflects. “Would my life have been easier
without him? Probably. But we made
history, raised F1 to a new level, and made
a great story. I don’t regret any of that.”
Switching to Ferrari was smart, given
that the Italian V12s were making big
steps in power while also becoming almost
“Seeing an engine crate
arriving from Honda with
‘Special to Senna’ on it…
What does that mean?”
Prost’s record in the French Grand Prix was amazing.
He won at Dijon in 1981, Paul Ricard in ’ 83, ’ 88, ’ 89
and ’ 90 (ABOVE, for Ferrari), and Magny-Cours in ’ 93.
(LEFT TO RIGHT)
Winning the British
GP in ’ 89; first GP
win for Ferrari was
the 40th of his career;
elegant 643 came
mid-’ 91 after failure
of 642. It was better,
but still not a winner.
Honda-reliable. And so the 1990 season
again developed into a Prost vs. Senna
battle which again was resolved at Suzuka.
Ayrton drove into Alain at the first corner,
guaranteeing himself the title.
Nevertheless, it was a good year for Prost,
who won five races and appeared to have
built himself an ideal situation at Ferrari.
Yet ’ 91 was a disaster, with Prost landing
just five top-three finishes. The red cars
were uncompetitive, Alain stated it publicly,
and he was fired before the final race.
Contractually he was forced to sit out
1992, but returned with Williams-Renault
in ’ 93, causing new World Champion Nigel
Mansell to head to Indy cars. Armed with
the superb high-tech FW15C, Alain was
hard to beat, although Senna tried hard
in the now Ford-powered McLaren MP4/8.
“Alain was a legend,” says his final