Unlike in his 1984 Monaco debut, when the public in general had no Idea of who he was, by 1988 Ayrton Senna was one of the greatest names in F1. AS the favorite to win, and riding McLaren’s amazing winning streak, he took the pole position on Saturday by posting a time of 1min23s998. While that result wasn’t exactly a surprise, the fact that he had beaten two-time champion Alain Prost – who was also his teammate – by 1s427 surely was.
The Brazilian drove like He was in another dimension – which isn’t just a figure of speech. Senna himself described the practice sessions for the 1988 Monaco GP as an incredible experience that even scared him a little, since it was “way beyond his conscious understanding”.
As soon as the race started, Senna took off, leaving the Frenchman to deal with Gerhard Berger’s and Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari’s, right behind him.
Senna posted the race’s quickest lap on the 59th lap. And despite the fact that he was 50 seconds ahead of Prost, the Brazilian kept pushing his car to the limit. On the 66th lap, the seemingly impossible ended up happening: Ayrton made a mistake at the tunnel’s entrance and crashed into the guard-rail when the race was his to lose.
Ayrton was visibly upset when He left the car, and didn’t even made it back to the pit boxes. Since he was close to his apartment in Monaco, he went home on foot to clear his head.
After winning the race, Prost also accused Senna of trying to humiliate him. For the Brazilian, however, the costly mistake was when he decided to change his behavior, allowing him to win his first world title by the end of the 1988 season.
So much so that, after the Monaco GP, Senna won seven races, heroically winning the championship at the Japanese GP.