A memorable race in Monaco only increased his will to return to the podium in Europe. And Senna would be at the end-of-race festivities once again at the British Grand Prix.
Even before the green light, there was already a lot of movement backstage – Martin Brundle was disqualified because the organizers found out the Britton’s car was below the weight limit two races prior, in Detroit. FISA also punished Tyrell, which had put lead chunks inside their cars’ water tanks. The team was suspended and lost the 13 points it had scored until then. The team owner appealed from the decision, and earned the right to race at Brands Hatch while the case wasn’t judged. By the end of 1984, however, the team would have all its results invalidated due to the cars’ irregularities.
Before the qualifying sessions, Toleman’s engineers met with their two drivers to discuss their plans for the race. It was a normal procedure, but Rory Byrne, the team’s designer, didn’t know what to do to satisfy Ayrton Senna and Venezuelan Johnny Ceccoto on that Friday. Both had very different ideas for adjusting the car.
Ayrton Senna worked hard to get the car close enough to where he wanted it to be. He was actually the fastest driver, during the first free practice session. The starting position was good compared to other results obtained in the season – he would start in 7th place.
His teammate wasn’t as lucky and did not qualify for the race, after being involved in an accident that Friday. Going over 240 kmh, Cecoto obliterated his Toleman’s front-end and suffered severe leg fractures after hitting the wall. It was the end of F1 racing for the Venezuelan, who had a promising career in motor racing ahead of him, according to Senna himself. The Brazilian regarded him as a tough adversary to beat.
On starting grid, Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost made up the first row. In the second, Niki Lauda and Elio de Angelis. The third row had Keke Rosberg and Derek Warwick. And, right behind them, Senna and his Toleman.
At the start, the Brazilian slipped to eighth place, after being overtaken by Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto. Senna quickly recovered and was already in 5th by the time the race was interrupted due to an accident involving Jonathan Palmer. He crashed hard, and his car stopped in such a way that it was unsafe for the race to continue.
After the restart, Piquet, the leader up until then, was overtaken by Alain Prost. Lauda remained in third. The second act of the race didn’t start well for Ayrton, who had to fight it out with Alboreto once again. He reclaimed the seventh place and went after Elio de Angelis, in sixth.
At the front of the pack, Lauda took advantage of Piquet’s troubles with backmarkers and took the second place. Later, the Austrian would get the best of the leader of the race, his McLaren teammate, Alain Prost, who retired on lap 37 due to engine problems.
Going strong ten laps after the restart, Senna left Patrick Tambay behind and, after Prost’s retirement, landed in 5th place. On lap 41 out of 71, Senna caught up with Elio de Angelis and, even though Lotus had a better car, managed a beautiful overtaking maneuver.
Suffering from performance problems, Piquet was slow. Ayrton took advantage of that and was now headed for the podium. Without the Brabham in his rearview mirror, Lauda had an easy race and crossed the finish line in first. Renault’s Derek Warwick was second, and Senna stood out once again by taking his Toleman team to the podium, in third place.
“On the podium, the Brands Hatch crowd, used to Ayrton’s victories in other categories, cheered louder for him than for Niki Lauda himself. Ayrton was also very happy, spraying champagne on everybody”, described TV Globo reporter Reginaldo Leme, during the British GP’s broadcast.
He interviewed the Brazilian driver after the race, asking how it felt to be on the podium for the first time after a race in a regular (non-street) track. “It’s a great joy. I’m very happy. My team delivered a very competitive car, that allowed me to be on the Brands Hatch podium, as I’ve done so many times in entry categories”, answered Senna.