1990: AYRTON SENNA

Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)

Year: 1990
Driver: Ayrton Senna (Brazil)
Team: McLaren Honda
Car: McLaren MP4/5B
Results: 6 wins, 11 podiums, 10 poles, 2 fastest laps

McLaren retained Ayrton Senna, who had won the title in 1988, now partnered by Gerhard Berger. Ferrari signed Alain Prost, Senna’s great rival and former team-mate, to partner Nigel Mansell. The other main team, Williams, retained their 1989 pairing of Thierry Boutsen and Riccardo Patrese. Benetton completed the signing of triple world champion Nelson Piquet, on a rumored incentive based contract of $100,000 per point scored following 2 disappointing years at Lotus, meaning he had to score points to actually be paid.

Senna took a commanding lead in the championship with six wins, two second places and three thirds. His most memorable victories were at the opening round in Phoenix, in which he diced for the lead for several laps with a then-unknown Jean Alesi before coming out on top, and at Germany where he fought Benetton driver Alessandro Nannini throughout the race for the win. As the season reached its final quarter however, Alain Prost in his Ferrari rose to the challenge with five wins, including a crucial victory in Spain where he and teammate Nigel Mansell finshed 1-2 for the Scuderia. Senna had gone out with a damaged radiator and the gap between Senna and Prost was now reduced to 11 points with two races remaining.

At the penultimate round of the Championship in Japan at Suzuka (the same circuit where Senna and Prost had their collision a year before), Senna took pole ahead of Prost. The pole position in Suzuka was on the right-hand, dirty side of the track. Prost’s Ferrari made a better start and pulled ahead of Senna’s McLaren. At the first turn Senna aggressively kept his line, while Prost turned in and the McLaren ploughed into the rear wheel of Prost’s Ferrari at about 270 km/h (170 mph), putting both cars off the track, this time making Senna the Formula 1 world champion and McLaren constructors’ champion.A year later, after taking his third world championship, Senna explained to the press his actions of the previous year in Suzuka. He maintained that prior to qualifying fastest, he had sought and received assurances from race officials that pole position would be changed to the left-hand, clean side of the track, only to find this decision reversed by Jean-Marie Balestre after he had taken pole.Explaining the collision with Prost, Senna said that what he had wanted was to make clear he was not going to accept what he perceived as unfair decisions by Balestre, including his disqualification in 1989 and the pole position in 1990.Prost would later go on record slamming Senna’s actions as “disgusting” and that he seriously considered retiring from the sport after that incident.

See Senna/Prost crash at Suzuka

See interview with Prost afterwards

(Source: Wikipedia)

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