Today, October 20, marks the 26th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s third F1 title. to celebrate the special occasion, we are remembering five of the most important races for the Brazilian driver in the 1991 season.

1- United States GP

The opening race of the season, in Phoenix, would once again be a showdown between Senna and Prost – the  first duel between the McLaren and Ferrari drivers after the crash in Japan, in the next-to-last race of the previous season, which gave Senna the title. In the US, Senna’s dominance started in the qualifying sessions, when he was 1s1 faster than the Frenchman. During the race, Senna confirmed his superiority on street circuits and scored an indisputable win, leading each one of the 81 laps. Prost finished in second place, 16 seconds behind the McLaren.

2- Brazilian GP

In the season’s second race, the 1991 Brazilian GP, Senna pushed beyond his limits and overcame all obstacles to finally win in his home-country. Ayrton had the pole position and led the race from start to finish at Interlagos, to the crowd’s delight. But, in the last few laps, he was forced to drive with only the sixth gear, since his McLaren presented serious gearbox issues.

3- Monaco GP

In Monaco, the season’s fourth race, Senna clinched his best start to a season ever, with his fourth win in a row. The qualifying sessions were marked by another pole position by Senna and by Tyrrell’s Stefano Modena surprisingly strong showing, who qualified in second place.  During the race, the Brazilian was consistent and won from start to finish. It was Senna’s 30th win in F1, his third in a row in Monaco (‘89, ’90 and ’91), and his fourth in the Principality (including the ’87 triumph).

4- Belgian GP

Despite Ayrton Senna’s comfortable lead in the standings, his McLaren wasn’t performing as exceptionally as it had been at the beginning of the year, and the Brazilian was forced to deal with a slower car in a few races. One of them took place at Spa-Francorchamps, where Senna scored another pole-position and maintained his lead up until his first pit-stop.  After a lengthy tire-change, he was forced to make up for the lost time – and that was when he noticed a gearbox problem, with the gears slipping out of position on their own. Unable to fight for the win, the Brazilian lucked out, with both Williams’ Nigel Mansell and Ferrari’s Jean Alesi dropping out of the race, and climbed back to first place. It was the last of his five wins at Spa (’85, ’88, ’89, ’90 and ’91).

Pole lap:

5- Japanese GP

Senna would secure his third world title at Suzuka, in the season’s next-to-last race. As the points-leader (with 85, against Mansell’s 69) the Brazilian was going to become champion as long as the Briton  didn’t win. On Saturday, Berger took the pole with his McLaren, Senna was in second and Mansell was in third, with his Williams. During the race, Berger jumped ahead and Senna adopted the strategy of holding the “Lion” down, trying to force an error. And that was exactly what happened: Mansell made a mistake on the first corner and ended up on the gravel trap. Senna was now a three-time champion, and he was even able to catch up to Berger, in a flawless race by the McLarens. In the end, Ayrton let his Austrian teammate win, in a memorable one-two.

Senna’s stats in 1991:

16 races, 7 wins, 78 points, 8 poles, 11 times in the first row of the grid, 12 podiums, 14 races in which He scored points, 2 retirements.