At the 1988 Canadian GP, Ayrton Senna won for the first time and started a historic comeback, which put him on a path to secure his first title in Formula One. The Brazilian driver had a streak of six wins in seven races, scoring important points for the rest of the season. Up until then, in the first four stages, Alain Prost had won the GPs in Brazil, Monaco and Mexico, while the Brazilian had prevailed in San Marino.
Take a look back at those six wins by Senna:
The Canadian GP was marked by a historic moment: on lap 19, after waiting for the right moment to attack, Ayrton Senna braked later on the Hairpin and had better traction when exiting the corner, brilliantly overtaking Alain Prost. The race went down in history because of that maneuver – it was Senna’s first win as a McLaren driver after overtaking his rival Alain Prost. The race in Canada was the fifth race in the season, and Senna passed Gerhard Berger in the standings, shrinking the gap between himself and Prost to 15 points (39 to 24).
At the 1988 Detroit GP, Senna secured his sixth pole position in six races that year – a phenomenal performance that was starting to bother his McLaren teammate, Alain Prost, then a two-time world champion (1985 – 1986). Steamrolling the competition, Senna won from start to finish, beating the Frenchman by 38 seconds and actually finishing the race one lap ahead of Thierry Boutsen, who was in third, with his Benetton.
With the result in Detroit, Ayrton had his second win in a row with McLaren, getting closer to the Frenchman in the standings (45 to 33).
Ayrton Senna scored his first F1 win at Silverstone in 1988. The circuit already had a special place in the Brazilian’s career thanks to his achievements there in the entry categories. After winning at the track in Formula Ford and in the British F3, Senna was even nicknamed “Silvastone” by the UK press.
To win in F1, Senna had to face a heavy rain with his McLaren, putting on a spectacle by overtaking Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari and lapping Alain Prost before the 14th lap was over – all of that in the same maneuver.
With Prost out of the points-scoring range, Senna shrunk the gap from 15 to 6 points (54 to 48). In the previous GP, Ayrton had finished in second at Paul Ricard, while Prost had won in his home-turf.
Ayrton Senna’s win in Germany took place under a drizzle, meaning the track was wet during the first half of the race, since Hockenheim had water drainage issues. Even with a dry track set up, the Brazilian never allowed Alain Prost to jeopardize his win. After another win by the Brazilian, the Frenchman, who finished in second, saw his lead shrink to 3 points (60 to 57) in the championship. It was Senna’s 10th win in F1.
Ayrton Senna’s fifth win in six races didn’t come about without its fair share of drama. Even after leading every lap, the Brazilian started losing ground to Alain Prost in the final few laps in Hungary – they crossed the finish line just 0s529 apart. By the end of their careers, that would be the smallest time difference at the end of a race between the two drivers in F1.
With the result, Senna and Prost were tied in the standings, with 66 points each, but the Brazilian was ahead in number of wins in the season: he had six triumphs, while Prost had won four races.
Senna had already won at Spa-Francorchamps in 1985, with Lotus, and did it again with McLaren. The only moment Alain Prost was ahead of Senna was at the start of the race, when he overtook the Brazilian, who had the pole position. Before the first lap was over, Ayrton returned the favor and took back the lead, where he stayed for the rest of the 43 laps. Prost finished in second, but for the first time in the year the Brazilian was at the top of the standings: 75 to 62. It was the Brazilian’s sixth win in seven races, a streak that paved the way to his first world title, which he would secure a two months later, at the Japanese GP.