On an April 3rd like today, 26 years ago, Ayrton Senna set off on an important journey in his career. The rising star of Brazilian and international motor sports left Lotus to debut at McLaren, the best F-1 team in 1988’s season, which started on that date, with the Brazilian Grand Prix, at the Jacarapagua circuit, in Rio de Janeiro.
Senna lived his best moments in the category with the British team, winning his three world titles (1988, ’90 and ’91). It was in Ron Dennis’ team that Senna fulfilled his huge potential. He won 35 races in six seasons, stepped on the podium in another 20 instances and scored 46 of the 65 pole-positions in his career.
It was also there that Senna made history in epic races, like the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix, when he won his first race in front of his fans, even after dealing with serious gearbox issues; and the 1993 European Grand Prix, at Donnington Park, in which he overtook five drivers on a single lap to take the lead and win the race. Not to mention five of his six wins in Monaco, a feat that made him the “King of the Principality” and a record that endures to this day.
With Senna, McLaren had fantastic results, including records like the four constructor’s championship titles in a row. With Alain Prost as teammate, he ruled the tracks in 1988 and 1989, in what many experts call the best duo in F1’s history. April 3rd 1988 started with Senna at the pole-position, but the Brazilian ended up not finishing the year’s first Grand Prix. His debut’s result may not have been the best, but that day can be considered a watershed in the future world champion’s career.