Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)
Driver: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)
Team: McLaren Honda
Car: McLaren MP4/4
Results: 8 wins, 11 podiums, 13 poles, 3 fastest laps
The pre-season was a very contentious time, with many theories of the championship flying around. Would the Honda engines prove successful with McLaren? Would Ferrari be able to continue the trend set by the last two rounds of 1987 where Gerhard Berger took successive victories? Would Williams be able to continue their success without Honda and Nelson Piquet? Could World Champion Piquet succeed in defending his title with the Honda powered Lotus?
At Imola, however, it was plain to see what all the teams had feared. Gordon Murray’s MP4/4, combined with the championship winning Honda Turbo, made a mockery of the rest of the grid. Even the Lotus-Hondas of Piquet and Nakajima were left a lap behind race winner Senna, with team-mate Prost less than five seconds behind him. At the front of the grid, things were as tight as ever, however for everyone else it had become a race for third.
Despite what many expected, the championship would hardly be considered boring with the McLaren onslaught peaking with the drivers fighting in several feuds. It was the beginning of Prost vs. Senna era. Senna finally got a championship winning car when he joined (then 2 times world champion) Prost at McLaren. The two of them won 15 out of 16 races that year, and Senna took the crown in his very first year with McLaren.
The penultimate round in Japan was, once again, where the title was decided. Prost made a superb start to the lead, whilst Senna stalled, lucky in the fact that Suzuka had a sloping grid, helping to start his car. Senna knew he had nothing to lose and everything to gain in this race, and knew he could seal the championship here. By the end of the lap he had already made up six positions, and by the fourth lap he was sitting in fourth position. The top six cars were all sitting very close and when the rain started to fall, so did Prost. Capelli took this chance to become the first naturally aspirated car to lead a Grand Prix in over 4 years, thrilling the March team. Unfortunately, this was not to last as his electronics would eventually fail.
By then, Senna was hot on the tail of Prost. Prost hated the wet, as much as he hated to lose, and his failing gearbox only added to the Brazilian’s chances. When the pair came round to lap some back-markers, as Prost was caught up with de Cesaris, Ayrton went past to take the lead, and set three consecutive fastest laps and setting a new lap record. As he was now out on a wet track with dry tires, as many other drivers were, he signaled to stop the race. However, the race ran its full distance and Honda were reveling in their 1-2 finish, whilst Prost was bitter. He would go on to win in Adelaide, and score eleven more points in total than Senna, but only the eleven highest scores counted, with Senna’s eight wins and three seconds giving him a total of 90 points to Prost’s 87. He went on to be a proponent of the 90’s scoring system – all results counting to the final results with the winner scoring 10, not 9, points.