The Indy 500 took place last weekend, in the USA, and the winner was Simon Pagenaud, a French driver who is a fan of Ayrton Senna. Exactly 30 years ago, on May 28, 1989, Emerson Fittipaldi won the legendary IndyCar race and, on the same day, Ayrton Senna also made history in Formula One by winning the Mexican GP.
In the fourth stage of the 1989 F1 season, in which Senna had already won two back-to-back races, the Brazilian driver was on a roll when he arrived in Mexico, and secured his seventh pole position in a row. By starting in first place, Senna matched the record for most pole positions, which belonged to Jim Clark, who had 33 in his career.
At the start, Senna kept the lead, followed by the Ferraris driven by Mansell and Berger. Prost, who had a bad start, fell down to fourth place. Before the first lap was over, an accident involving Stefano Modena and Olivier Grouillard forced the race authorities to call for a new start, keeping the order of original grid. Obviously, Ayrton Senna didn’t like it, but Prost, who had lagged behind, was glad to be back on the first row.
At the restart, the Brazilian jumped ahead once again, this time with the Frenchman keeping the second position. Berger was responsible for the biggest change, overtaking Mansell, but the Briton made a comeback in the first few laps.
Starting on lap 12, Senna increased the pace, leaving Prost to deal with Mansell and opening a five-second gap. During the race, Ayrton had an ace up his sleeve: he had started with hard tires on the left side and soft ones on the right side. The bet paid off, since the Brazilian didn’t have to make a pit-stop to change tires, while Prost wasn’t able to spare his equipment and was forced to change his Goodyears during the race.
The perfect weekend for Senna ended with a win from start to finish in Mexico. Prost was in fifth place, and saw his teammate climb seven points in the standings. Now the scoreboard read 27 to the Brazilian and 20 to the Frenchman. Senna wrapped up in style the party started by Emerson Fittipaldi on that Sunday.
At the end of the race, Senna eve made a joke with the restart when they asked him what had been the secret to his victory: “Simple: I was ready for three starts.”