The 1988 Mexican Grand Prix was vital to Senna’s aspirations in his first F1 season as a McLaren driver. After dominating the previous race, in Monaco, he ended up not scoring points, due to what many consider the biggest mistake in his career: he crashed on his own at the tunnel’s entrance when he was far away ahead of his teammate, Alain Prost.
On Saturday, Senna had scored his 20th pole position in F1. In an effort to show he was over the incident in Monte Carlo, the Brazilian was 0s629 quicker than Prost in the qualifying sessions. Ayrton posted a time of 1min17s468 at the notoriously fast circuit, located in Mexico City. Berger would be starting in third place and Nelson Piquet in fourth, with his Lotus.
The Frenchman led the standings, with 24 points. Berger was in second, with 14, and Senna in third, with 9. Therefore, it was extremely important for the Brazilian to win, if he wanted to compete with his teammate.
The first start was cancelled due to a problem with Alessandro Nannini’s Benetton before the green flag. That meant the drivers had to do another warm-up lap. At the second start, Prost jumped ahead and Piquet climbed to second place. Ayrton lost grip and spun his wheels when the green light came on, falling to third place.
A. de Cesaris
position in championship following the race
championship points accumulated
When Gerhard Berger was putting pressure on me, I thought about stopping to change up my tires, but they weren’t so bad, so I stayed on the track.