Monaco Grand Prix – 1985


Less than a month after his first F1 victory, in Portugal, Ayrton Senna had a big challenge ahead of him: getting the pole position in Monaco, to prove that his second-place finish the previous year, under a heavy downpour, hadn’t been a fluke.

In between the races in Portugal and Monaco, the Brazilian had let a victory get away from him in the final laps at Imola, due to lack of fuel. Even though his Lotus didn’t look very reliable for the 78 laps in Monaco, Senna knew that a pole position would help him a lot, since not only the track in Monaco was narrow, offering few overtaking opportunities, but Williams, Ferrari, McLaren and even Lotus were enjoying a pretty even season.

During the qualifying sessions, Senna did 16 laps and had a best time of 1min20s450, just 0s066 ahead of Nigel Mansell. In the cool-down lap, Ferrari’s Michele Alboreto was trying to improve his time, but Senna was in his way. The incident made the Italian driver furious and landed him in third place.

American driver Eddie Cheever would start alongside Alboreto, with Prost and Boutsen right behind them, in the third row. On that Saturday night, after the Formula 3 race, Ayrton Senna went on a long walk through the streets of Monte Carlo. He walked, anonymous, through the sinuous circuit of the Principality.

He relished in his third consecutive pole position of the season – the first of five he would get in Monaco. He carefully examined every corner of the urban track like someone wishing to trace out a path to victory. He had come so close with Toleman the previous year. Would his luck change this time? As soon as the race started, Senna maintained the lead and was five seconds ahead of the group led by Nigel Mansell (Williams), Michele Alboreto (Ferrari) and Alain Prost (McLaren).

If his car could make it to the end, the victory was certain. In the middle of the pack, Gerhard Berger’s engine blew up, causing a collision between Patrick Tambay and Stefan Johanson. Soon after that, Mansell’s performance started to suffer, and he was passed by several cars, starting with Alboreto. Ayrton took advantage of that and go even farther away from the Italian, who managed to close the gap again a few laps later, catching up to the black Lotus. Senna’s euphoria would only last for 18 minutes. On the 13th lap, his Renault engine started smoking. Ayrton slowed down at the straight and Alboreto took the lead.

As his Renault EF15 engine threatened to blow up, the Brazilian driver did another lap and took the car to the garage. Despite the mechanics’ best efforts, he had to retire. Three laps after that, another incident changed the course of the race. Nelson Piquet tried to pass Riccardo Patrese while fighting for a ninth place, but both cars ended up crashing at the exit of “Saint Devote”, the tracks first corner. Still in the lead, Alboreto lost traction on the oil spill from the accident and hit the brakes too late, handing the top spot over to Prost, who won the race.

The Italian driver even had to drive in reverse, something unusual in F1, to be able to go back to the track and climb on the podium in second place, with Elio de Angelis, Ayrton Senna’s Lotus teammate, in third.

At the overall standings, Elio de Angelis now had 20 points, Prost and Alboreto had 18, Patrick Tambay had 10 and Ayrton Senna had 9, after Monaco’s results. Disappointed with his performance, Ayrton Senna promised himself that he would win in Monaco one day, unaware that he would fulfill this promise many times over in the following years.

“I will still secure a win here.”

Resumo da Corrida

  • 1 Ayrton Senna
  • 2 N. Mansell
  • 3 M. Alboreto
  • 4 E. Cheever
  • 5 A. Prost
  • 6 T. Boutsen
  • 7 K. Rosberg
  • 8 A. de Cesaris
  • 9 E. de Angelis
  • 10 D. Warwick
  • 11 G. Berger
  • 12 R. Patrese
  • 13 N. Piquet
  • 14 N. Lauda
  • 15 S. Johansson
  • 16 J. Laffite
  • 17 P. Tambay
  • 18 M. Brundle
  • 19 J. Palmer
  • 20 T. Fabi
Voltas 78
Tempo Nublado
Volta mais rápida M. Alboreto - 1´22´´637
Podium 1º A. Prost 2º M. Alboreto 3º E. de Angelis
Carros 20
Abandonos 9