The 2019 F1 season starts this weekend in Melbourne, Australia. This year’s highlight will probably be the no holds barred fight between three strong teams: Mercedes, which boasts current champion Lewis Hamilton, along with Valtteri Bottas; Ferrari, with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel and promising new driver Charles Leclerc; and Red Bull, which has the rise of talented young stars Max Verstappen and Pierre Gasly as its main weapon this year.
Hamilton, by the way, has the chance to match a record set by Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. The Briton can secure his eighth pole position in a single track (Australia), repeating a feat only Senna and Schumacher achieved at Suzuka.
Ayrton Senna never had the chance of racing at the Albert Park raceway, but he made history at the street circuit of Adelaide, also in Australia, by scoring two wins, three podium-finishes and 6 pole positions.
Ayrton Senna’s relationship with Australia began at the first edition of the Australian Grand Prix. In 1985, the category made its debut in the land down under and the Brazilian driver was able to secure the pole position behind the wheel of his Lotus 97T. Take a look at Senna’s incredible lap:
As it was Senna’s custom, especially in street circuits, the three-time champion would become the pole position record holder at Adelaide. Besides scoring the pole positions at the track’s inauguration, he also posted the quickest lap in the qualifying sessions in 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 1993.
His last pole position was one of the most special ones, since the McLaren pit crew kept trying to warn him that he was running out of fuel. But the team radio had stopped working, and Senna pushed his McLaren to the limit, securing the pole position with a 0s436 advantage over Alain Prost, who as driving a Williams, that season’s odds-on favorite. At the end of the session, Ayrton himself could barely believe he had scored his only pole position in the 1993 season.
Senna’s wins in Australia were also really special. In 1991, the race in Adelaide was the first Grand Prix after his third championship title, which he had won in Japan. Following a week of celebration, Senna started at the front of the pack, but the race’s authority suspended the contest in the 14th lap, due to the safety issues caused by a torrential downpour. It was the shortest race ever in F1 history.
In 1993, Senna won the race and shared the podium with Alain Prost for the last time. Prost was retiring from racing, after winning that year’s title. The Brazilian’s win would also be remembered as the last of his 41 F1 victories. It was also when Senna and McLaren parted ways – in 1994, the three-time champion would be driving a Williams.