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Ten of Ayrton Senna's greatest McLaren F1 wins

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Ten of Ayrton Senna's greatest McLaren F1 wins
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Mar 28, 2020, 1:06 PM

Twenty-seven years after Ayrton Senna secured the 100th Formula 1 race win for McLaren, we pick the 10 finest victories he scored for the legendary British team during one of the most iconic eras of the sport.

1988 Britain

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/4

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/4

Photo by: Sutton Images

Senna displayed his usual wet-weather masterclass at Silverstone in 1988 - and that race would prove crucial for his championship challenge, kick-starting a mid-season run of four consecutive victories.

Unusually for the 1988 season, the Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Michele Alboreto locked out the front row, but when the race got underway on a drenched Silverstone circuit on Sunday, the competitive picture shifted back towards McLaren's favour.

Senna, starting third, wasted little time clearing Alboreto, overtaking him on the opening lap, and then set about chasing Berger. On lap 15, as the two lapped the other McLaren of Prost, Senna seized the opportunity to pass Berger and moved into the lead.

He went on to extend his advantage to over a minute, before taking the victory by a still-comfortable margin of 23 seconds.

1988 Imola

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/4

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/4

Photo by: Sutton Images

Senna scored his first victory for McLaren at Imola in 1988 - and he did so in dominant fashion.

Having beaten teammate Alain Prost to pole position by nearly eight tenths of a second, Senna made a lightning getaway to lead into the first corner, while the Frenchman slipped down the order with engine issues.

Prost managed to recoup quickly from his startline issue and fought his way back up to second, but he simply had no answer to Senna's pace, the Brazilian unchallenged en route to a lights-to-flag win.

The 1-2 finish also highlighted the dominance of McLaren in its most successful season, as Senna and Prost lapped the entire field - even the other Honda-powered Lotuses of Nelson Piquet and Satoru Nakajima.

1988 Japan

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/4

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/4

Photo by: Sutton Images

Senna nearly blew his hopes of a maiden title by stalling at the start of the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix, but his sheer speed - and a well-timed rain shower - allowed him to snatch the win from Prost and with it claim the drivers' title at Suzuka.

After a disastrous start, Senna had dropped down to 14th place, but he managed to carve his way back up to eighth by the end of Lap 1.

Slowly but steadily he rose up to second place and when Prost, handicapped by a gear-selection issue, got delayed by the lapped March of Ivan Capelli, Senna shot past him to take the lead.

The result was enough for Senna to claim his first title - and he did so with a round to spare.

1989 Monaco

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/5 Honda

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/5 Honda

Photo by: Motorsport Images

A year after crashing out from lead of the Monaco Grand Prix, Senna returned to the principality with the same crushing speed, taking pole position by over a second from Prost.

This time though, he kept his McLaren away from the barriers in the race, despite a gearbox problem that meant he kept losing first and second gears.

Prost wasn't without his own issues, too, losing a big chunk of time in traffic, particularly behind Rene Arnoux's Ligier.

But Senna was in a league of his own, as he took the chequered flag with a dominant margin of 52s over Prost. Given their bitter rivalry had started at the previous race at San Marino, this victory couldn't have been better timed for the Brazilian.

1990 Phoenix

Ayrton Senna, Mclaren MP4/5B Honda leads Jean Alesi, Tyrrell 018 Ford

Ayrton Senna, Mclaren MP4/5B Honda leads Jean Alesi, Tyrrell 018 Ford

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The 1990 United States GP is fondly remembered for the titanic battle between Senna and rising star Jean Alesi.

Alesi moved into the lead at the start of the race from fourth on the grid, his Pirelli-shod Tyrrell thriving on the streets of Phoenix.

However, Senna had other ideas. Having taken advantage of a spin for teammate Gerhard Berger, Senna started closing in on Alesi as the race neared its halfway point.

On lap 34 of 72, Senna made his first move on Alesi for the lead, but the Tyrrell driver immediately shot back at the next corner to seize back the advantage.

Their enthralling battle continued for several laps, but Senna had the last laugh, taking the victory by nine seconds from Alesi, who secured his maiden podium finish.

1991 Brazil

Podium: race winner Ayrton Senna, McLaren, second place Riccardo Patrese, Williams, third place Gerhard Berger, McLaren

Podium: race winner Ayrton Senna, McLaren, second place Riccardo Patrese, Williams, third place Gerhard Berger, McLaren

Photo by: Sutton Images

By the time Senna entered the 1991 season, he was already a two-time world champion and an undoubted star of grand prix racing.

But what had eluded him was a victory in front of his passionate Brazil fans, his previous best result at his home grand prix being a second place finish at Jacarepagua in 1986.

And Senna had to work very hard to break the jinx in 1991 after a serious gearbox issue meant that he had to navigate the entire track in sixth gear. Lap-by-lap his advantage was cut by a charging Ricardo Patrese (Williams), the gap falling from over 40 seconds to under 10.

But Senna eventually managed to hang on to the top spot by three seconds, taking one of his most memorable wins.

1992 Monaco

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/7A Honda, 1st position with Nigel Mansell, Williams FW14B Renault, 2nd position close behind, trying to pass in the last few laps of the race

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/7A Honda, 1st position with Nigel Mansell, Williams FW14B Renault, 2nd position close behind, trying to pass in the last few laps of the race

Photo by: Motorsport Images

There is no denying that Nigel Mansell should have won the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix. Mansell was untouchable on the streets of Monte Carlo in his Williams FW14B. Even Senna, with all his experience of the principality, had no answer to the Englishman's pace on that day.

But the tables turned when Mansell was forced to make an unscheduled pitstop with just seven laps to go into the race, dropping behind Senna on the road.

With fresher tyres, Mansell chased Senna at the rate of two seconds per lap, but the Brazilian defended aggressively, blocking every move. Overtaking at Monaco is never easy, but Senna's defensive skills meant that even someone of Mansell's calibre was unable to find a way past.

The result? Senna took an unlikely fifth victory at Monaco, equalling the record set by the great Graham Hill.

1993 Brazil

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/8 leads

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/8 leads

Photo by: Sutton Images

Senna qualified a distant third for the 1993 Brazilian GP, 1.8s behind the pole-sitting Williams of Prost.

Worse still, he was handed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty for overtaking under yellow flags, leaving him nearly 45s behind Prost in fourth.

But as soon as rain hit the track, Senna pitted for wet tyres while chaos ensued ahead. Michael Schumacher lost time with a botched pitstop, while Prost aquaplaned off the track and retired, prompting the deployment of the safety car.

That left Senna second behind Hill, and when the track began to dry again, the Brazilian undercut the Williams driver by pitting a lap early for slicks, grabbing the lead of the race.

Hill's Williams should have been faster in the dry, but Senna did enough to hold the top spot, securing the 100th grand prix victory for McLaren.

1993 Donington

Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill

Ayrton Senna, Damon Hill

Photo by: Sutton Images

The opening lap of the 1993 European GP at Donington has gone down in the history books as one of the most memorable moments in the history of grand prix racing.

After a slightly troubled start that dropped him behind Schumacher in fifth, Senna showed devastating pace in the wet, dispatching his rivals one by one with relative ease.

Before the first lap was even over Senna was already into the lead, having outbraked the pole-sitting Williams of Prost into the Melbourne hairpin.

From there on, the lead traded hands several times as conditions went from dry to wet and back, but Senna eventually emerged victorious as Prost finished third behind Hill.

1993 Australia

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/8

Ayrton Senna, McLaren MP4/8

Photo by: Sutton Images

Senna took a relatively straightforward victory from pole position in the Australian Grand Prix, the closing round of the 1993 F1 season. But that race will remain special for what followed after the chequered flag fell.

Senna was joined on the rostrum by his former teammate Prost, who was fresh off securing his fourth title in his final year in F1.

The two had developed an acrimonious relationship during their time together at McLaren, but the news of Prost's impending retirement had served to thaw relations between the two.

Indeed, the two drivers embraced on the podium, seemingly putting their bitter past behind. It was a fitting end to one of the greatest rivalries the sport has ever witnessed.

Unbeknownst to those watching at the time, Adelaide 1993 also turned out to be Senna's 41st and final victory in F1.

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About this article

Series Formula 1
Drivers Ayrton Senna Shop Now
Author Rachit Thukral