Flashpoint – Estoril: “If he wants the Championship THAT much….”

Estoril, 1988
Prost’s pole position is undermined as Senna matches him to the first corner, but he gently eases Senna towards the edge of the track.  Senna has none of it and chops in front of Prost, leaving his team-mate to avoid the accident by stamping hard on the brakes.

Nevertheless, at the end of the first lap Prost is right on Senna’s tail and pulls alongside at around 300 kph.  The pitwall is flashing past, decorated with the pit signal boards held out by the teams.  Senna counters Prost’s attempt to pass on the right by also moving to the right, edging Prost towards the pit wall.  A hasty removal of the pit signal boards by the team managers prevents them being clipped by Prost’s wheels as they all but scrape the wall. Both McLarens’ wheels are in locking position as they hurtle towards the end of the pit straight, towards a horrific accident.  Prost can do little but edge out a little towards Senna to force him out a little.  At the last minute Prost manages to take the corner cleanly and goes on to win the race.

‘If he wants the Championship that much, he can have it…’ was Prost’s post-race reaction.  Senna apologized, but the rivalry had gone up another notch.

Senna Versus Prost: The Story of the Most Deadly Rivalry in Formula One
by: Malcolm Folley
publisher: Random House UK, published: 2010-05-26
ASIN: 0099528096
EAN: 9780099528098
sales rank: 58998
price: $9.83 (new), $9.29 (used)

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Formula One was at its most explosive, with thrilling races, charismatic drivers, nail-biting climaxes—and one of the most dangerous rivalries ever witnessed in sports. Two of F1’s most honored champions and iconic figures drove together for McLaren for two seasons, and their acrimonious and hostile relationship extended even after one of them had left the team. Alain Prost was France’s only F1 world champion, an intelligent, smooth driver with the epithet “Le Professeur,” while Ayrton Senna was the mercurial kid from a privileged background in Sao Paolo who would become the most intense and ruthless racing driver the world has ever seen. As the great rivals raced to victory, their relationship deteriorated badly, culminating in Prost accusing Senna of deliberately trying to ride him off the circuit, and fearful that the Brazilian would get someone killed with his daring overtaking feats. The final, sad act of this drama happened at the San Marino Grand prix at Imola in May 1994, when Senna was killed. Insights from Martin Brundle, Damon Hill, Sir Frank Williams, Bernie Ecclestone, Derek Warwick, Johnny Herbert, Gerhard Berger, plus McLaren insiders and other F1 figures provide a breathtaking account of one of the all-time classic sporting rivalries.

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