Prost and Senna: Might bitter rivals have joined forces?

Could Ayrton Senna have really driven for Alain Prost’s Formula 1 team? As ludicrous as it sounds, when you recall their bitter racing feuds, it just might have happened had he lived longer…

Prost and Senna: Might bitter rivals have joined forces?
Charles Bradley, Motorsport.com editor in chief
Alain Prost
Jean Alesi, Henri Durand, Pedro Diniz, Alain Prost, Joan Villadelprat and Gaston Mazzacane
Ayrton Senna with his girlfriend Adriane Galisteu
Alain Prost (FRA)
Pace lap: Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost
Podium: race winner Ayrton Senna with Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell
Ayrton Senna

An interesting quote emerged this week originating via our colleagues in France, from Alain Prost on the subject of Ayrton Senna…

"It's funny, maybe a week before the accident [at Imola, which so sadly claimed Ayrton’s life] we were talking on the phone," said Prost. "I told Ayrton: ‘You know, one day it would be fun if I had a team and you could be my driver.’”

“And we were laughing about it, but at the time we were already talking to buy Ligier at the beginning of 1994. It would have been fantastic, no doubt very good."

Wishful thinking, or a serious proposition? Don’t underestimate the power of their friendship – despite their many recriminations, Senna had huge respect for Prost, which Alain only truly realised after he’d retired from driving.

“I keep the last six months [of his life] in my mind,” Prost once told me. “That’s when I knew Ayrton much more than ever before. He was a completely different person, I understood who he was and why he was acting sometimes.

“I look back on how he was [when they were both racing] as a compliment. I came to understand that Ayrton’s main motivation, almost his sole motivation, was to focus on me and on beating me.

“That is why when we were on the podium together in Australia in ’93, when I stopped, just a few seconds later he was already a different person. That is the souvenir of our relationship that I carry with me today.”

The moment everything changed

Remember that Adelaide podium ceremony? It turned out to be more significant than we’d ever imagined at the time. We knew it was Prost’s final Grand Prix, but it turned out to be Senna’s last-ever victory too.

After Prost received his runner-up trophy, Ayrton insisted that Alain stand with him on the top step, physically pulling him up to stand arm-in-arm together. A poignant scene...

But talk to Prost now, and although he enjoyed sharing those final few months of Senna’s life – as they became firm ‘phone friends’, he says something felt… unworldly about it all.

And that was never more true on that fateful weekend at Imola in May, 1994.

“Near the end, when we were close, it was very strange because we would talk about the bad safety and this kind of thing,” said Prost. “He would ask me many times to take the lead of the GPDA, and I said no. We had some very private discussions together around this time. It was very strange.

“I keep this souvenir [of him] from then right until his last day, because I met him two or three times, and just before [the race at Imola] – and of course he was already this different person to me. That is why I prefer to think about that alone.

“Ayrton called me on Saturday, so I met him on Saturday, and I met him on Sunday twice – the main constant [of their conversations] was safety and the fact that he was not happy with the situation, thinking that the Benetton was not legal.

“He was very focused on that, but it was very weird… Very weird.”

shares
comments
F1 mid-season match up - Part 4 - The Survivors: Lotus vs Sauber
Previous article

F1 mid-season match up - Part 4 - The Survivors: Lotus vs Sauber

Next article

Ricciardo set for double engine penalty blow

Ricciardo set for double engine penalty blow
Load comments
The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Prime

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. James Newbold hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwart.

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Prime

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Prime

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season Prime

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in the 2021 F1 season

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as Stuart Codling finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1 Prime

How Fangio set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton in F1

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. Nigel Roebuck recalls a remarkable champion.

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Prime

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Motorsport.com heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Prime

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022
The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future Prime

The adapt or die mentality that will shape F1's future

As attitudes towards the motor car and what powers it change, Formula 1 must adapt its offering. Mark Gallagher ponders the end of fossil fuels

Formula 1
Jan 3, 2022