The F1 Mexican Grand Prix takes place this weekend. Three-time world champion, Ayrton Senna, raced seven times in the country, collecting several stories at the Hermanos Rodríguez Raceway – the setting of the contest that can crown the 2018 champion, this Sunday.
Pole position record and win at the 1989 GP
Senna arrived in Mexico, in 1989, as the championship leader after winning in San Marino and Monaco. In the qualifying sessions, Ayrton scored his seventh pole position in a row, matching the record at the time, which belonged to Jim Clark, with 33 poles in his career. Even though the race had to be restarted, Senna dominated the race from start to finish and won his third consecutive GP in the season.
On the same Day, May 29, Emerson Fittipaldi won the Indy 500 for the first time, making for an even more enjoyable Sunday for Brazilian racing fans.
Podiums and poles on the Mexican track
Senna had four podium finishes in his seven Mexican GPs. In 1986, still as a Lotus driver, Senna secured his 15th pole position and the third place in the race – his first podium in Mexico.
In the year He won his first world title, 1988, he scored another pole and another podium finish in Mexico: it was the 20th pole in his career and a second place finish in a McLaren one-two with Prost. In the following year, 1989, Ayrton took the pole and won the race from start to finish, while in 1991 he scored another third place finish, securing his fourth and final podium placement in the country.
Senna remains the driver with the second-highest number of pole positions in the history of the Mexican GP. He was the quickest at the qualifying sessions in 1986, 1988 and 1989. Only Jim Clark was able to score four poles at the Hermanos Rodríguez Raceway: 1963, 1964, 1965 and 1967.
100 F1 GPs
At the 1990 Mexican Grand Prix, Senna raced his 100th Formula One GP. To celebrate the feat, McLaren’s coordinator at the time, Mexican Jo Ramirez, ordered a cake for the Brazilian driver. The only thing that spoiled the party was a flat tire six laps before the end of the race, when Senna was in the lead and could already taste the win.
Podium finish after a scare at the 1991 GP
After four wins in five races at the start of the 1991 season, Senna arrived in Mexico with 40 points in the championship and a 24 point-lead over Ricardo Patrese, in second place with 16.
On Friday, during the first practice sessions, Ayrton Senna had a big scare, as he explained after ending up on the gravel trap of the Peraltada corner with his McLaren turned upside-down:
“It was a horrific experience. I was trapped in the McLaren’s wreckage, upside-down. I was panicking, thinking the gasoline spilled all over my back could ignite. I was being crushed, I had no room to move, and it was hard to breathe. It took an enormous effort to remove the steering wheel and the seatbelt so I could crawl out from underneath the car, like an armadillo leaving its burrow.”
“I sped into the corner, the car touched a bump and, since I was changing from sixth to fifth gear, I had only one hand on the wheel. I wasn’t able to control the car. I took off, spun out and rolled over”.
Despite the crash, the doctors let Senna race on Sunday, when he climbed on the podium in Mexico for the last time, now finishing in third place.