Model produced by: Paul’s Model Art (Minichamps)
Driver: Alain Prost (France)
Team: McLaren Honda
Car: McLaren MP4/5
Results: 4 wins, 11 podiums, 2 poles, 5 fastest laps
Turbocharged engines had been banned at the end of 1988, as they were felt to be making the sport dangerous and expensive. McLaren-Honda, who had dominated the field in 1988, winning all but one race, stuck to their successful driver lineup of Alain Prost and defending champion Ayrton Senna. Ferrari were optimistic of being able to challenge for the title. As well as their first 12 cylinder engine since the1980 season, Ferrari boasted one of the sleekest and highly advanced designs. Ferrari also completed the signing of British driver Nigel Mansell to partner Gerhard Berger.
But in the end, it was Prost vs. Senna again. Round two. Both in McLaren, both going for the title. Suzuka was the title decider, and this is where one of the memorable moments in F1 history happened. Again.
Senna took pole, but Prost beat him away from the grid and led by 1.4 seconds by the end of the first lap. By lap 15, however, Senna was all over the back of Prost’s McLaren after moving through both Williams and Benettons. He whittled down Prost’s 5 second lead to just under a second by lap 30, but the latter pulled a few seconds ahead by the 35th lap. By the end of lap 46, with 7 to go, the gap was just over a second. Senna, further back than he had been earlier in the race, made a move on Prost in the chicane before the start-finish straight. True to his word, Prost closed the gap and the two skidded into the escape road and both engines stalled.Prost jumped from his car. Senna, however, got a push from the marshals and returned to the track. Prost later said that his car was undamaged, that he could have easily won the race with Senna delayed by his car’s damage, and that not continuing the race was one the biggest regrets of his career.
After pitting for repairs, Senna worked his way past both Williams and the Benettons to take a three second victory. However, his altercation with Prost seven laps earlier meant he had missed the chicane and not completed the lap. He was disqualified and Nannini reveled in his first grand prix victory. The new Williams FW13s finished second and third, putting them five points ahead of the Ferrari team in the race for second.
McLaren went to appeal the decision. With the matter hanging in the air, Senna went on record saying it was a plot and conspiracy against him by FIA and FISA president Jean Marie Balestre who he said favored Alain Prost. Senna would comment again on the matter after sealing his 1991 championship, reiterating his belief that he had been unfairly treated.