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SUZUKACIRCUIT MOTORSPORTS LIBRARY

1993Victory won with his driving skills! Senna took a perfect win in the forth at Suzuka and the last confrontation versus Prost!

Senna won confidently at sacred place Suzuka

Senna won confidently at sacred place Suzuka

In 1993, Ayrton Senna was in his sixth season with the McLaren team. Since Honda had withdrawn from the Formula One World Championship at the end of the 1992 season, McLaren took part in the F1 World Championship with a Ford V8 customer engine. On the other hand, Alain Prost, who had taken a break for one year, returned to the Formula One with the Williams team that was using a Renault V10 engine that was regarded as the strongest engine at the time. The difference in power between these two engines was evident. In qualifying sessions, Williams-Renault monopolized pole position from the season opener to the 14 th Round, with Prost taking it 12 times and his teammate Damon Hill two times. Prost had won seven Grand Prix races by the end of Round 14 and already had already clinched the Drivers’ Championship title before the Japanese Grand Prix, Round 15 of the series.

Prost took pole position

Prost took pole position

Senna qualified in second place

Senna qualified in second place

The start of the race. Senna passed through at the side of Prost

The start of the race. Senna passed through at the side of Prost

Alain Prost, who had announced that he would retire from Formula One at the end of that year, concentrated on rounding off his career by winning the last two rounds of the season, in Japan and the final round in Australia. He took pole position for the first time at Suzuka, a track where he had never won a race so far. Ayrton Senna, however did not allow him to do so easily. On the very last lap in the qualifying sessions, Senna tried everything to beat Prost’s best lap time. The Brazilian drove flat out in the 130R curve and passed through the chicane faster than anyone. Though his best lap time was just one-hundredth of a second slower than Prost’s lap time, Senna had still clocked the second fastest lap time. This was the fourth Senna-Prost confrontation from the front row of the starting grid at Suzuka. Senna seized the advantage at the start. But, Prost took the lead when Senna pitted on lap 14. Prost had adopted a single pit stop strategy against Senna’s two stops. As Prost ran on in the lead, both drivers would have to make one more pit stop before the end of the race. At this rate, Prost would win the race unless Senna did something to regain the advantage. The sky over Suzuka Circuit turned dark rapidly. It started raining around the time the race entered lap 16 and the track began to get wet. Then, the gap between Prost and Senna began to close fast. Senna used his advantage on Prost to retake the lead on lap 21. Both of them changed their tires to rain tires, but Senna was fast in wet conditions, where driving skills undoubtedly help. He started to pull away from Prost and was soon running alone at the front.

Senna, waiting in his pit to enter the track

Senna, waiting in his pit to enter the track

Senna leads the pack making full use of the rain

Senna leads the pack making full use of the rain

Senna runs with the support of the large crowd

Senna runs with the support of the large crowd

Senna had won the Brazilian Grand Prix where the rain began to fall mid-race. In the European Grand Prix, in which it was raining at the start, he won after having overtaken four cars on the opening lap. He won the Monaco Grand Prix which is held on a winding street circuit, one of the most demanding courses for drivers. Ayrton Senna had displayed his ability to drive beyond the performance potential of the car in the situations where the driving itself is difficult. Senna showed his divine driving skills to the fans gathered at Suzuka. Just before achieving that feat at Suzuka, he waved his hand joyfully to the fans as he drove the final lap. Senna got the victory that he wanted so much at Suzuka in front of 150,000 spectators. As a result, the 1993 Japanese Grand Prix became the last appearance for Ayrton Senna at Suzuka. Fans still talked about Senna as a driver who fought a good fight against the stronger Williams-Renault machine and champion driver Alain Prost to stand on the center step of the podium.

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