Detroit Grand Prix – 1988


GP de Detroit 1988/ Detroit Grand Prix - 1988

One of the main landmarks in Detroit – the so-called Motor City – used to be a giant billboard which counted every automobile manufactured there. On Sunday, at 1:00 PM, 2,585,257 automobiles had left the factories for large North American assembly yards.

The main challenge for drivers at the street circuit was dealing with the wavy pavement, famous for breaking suspensions and even damaging tires. Senna had won the previous Sunday, in Montreal, which put him back in contention for the title, since Prost’s lead was still at 15 points.

“Here in Detroit, you can`t make the slightest mistake. In Monaco, you can slip up a couple times – you can touch the guard-rail for instance. Here, you can`t. There are very few places with guard-rails, and if you make a mistake, you end up crashing with the concrete barrier”, said Senna.

In the previous seasons, despite driving a worse car than the McLarens, Ayrton won the Detroit Grand Prix in 1986 and 1987. So, he was the odds-on favorite to win that weekend, thanks to the skills he had already displayed at other street circuits, much to the competition’s despair.

Before arriving at the sixth race in the season – Detroit`s 4.023 meters track – Senna had scored five pole positions, meaning he had a perfect track record in his first year with McLaren, at that point, and was able to face an experienced driver, like Alain Prost, head-on.

On Friday, Ayrton had the quickest lap, 1min40s606, 1s4 ahead of Prost, in second place. Ayrton`s Friday time was so good that nobody was able to beat it on Sunday, not even himself. The driver who came the closest – which wasn`t very close at all – was Berger, 0s858 slower. But it was enough to take Prost`s place at the first row. To make things even better for Senna, Prost had only the fourth best time, starting behind Michele Alboreto on the grid.

On Sunday, Senna and Berger jumped ahead, keeping the two first places. Prost was pressured by Belgian Thierry Boutsen and was in fifth by the end of the second lap. Unhappy with his weak performance at the start of the race, the Frenchman came back in style, passing Boutsen, Alboreto and Berger in quick succession, landing in second by the sixth lap.

While Prost made his way to the front of the pack, Senna opened a lead of more than six seconds. Besides the Frenchman`s strong showing, the Ferraris started losing performance, and both started being pressured by Boutsen`s and Nannini`s Benetton. Alboreto passed Berger and, right after that, the Austrian retired with a flat rear left tire.

In the following lap, Boutsen overtook Alboreto, leaving the Ferrari to Nannini. The Benetton driver was overeager when trying to pass his Italian countryman and ended up hitting him. Both suffered from the incident, but Nannini was able to hold on to his position for a few laps before retiring.

The crash benefited Mansell, who took the fifth place, but not for long since his engine gave out and the Lion had to retire in the 19th lap. The Britton`s teammate, Riccardo Patrese, was also failed by the Williams` Judd engine, and the fourth place fell on Andrea de Cesaris` lap.

Nothing changed at the top three places. Senna was 12 seconds ahead of Prost, who decided to make a pit-stop to change tires on lap 39. To avoid any surprises, Ayrton did the same. His pit-stop on lap 41 took 10s71 – faster than Prost`s. And after that, with new tires, he was quicker than the Frenchman, crossing the finish line 38 seconds ahead of him. Thierry Boutsen rounded out the podium, one lap behind Prost`s McLaren.

When Ayrton crossed the finish line, Detroit1s billboard flashed 2,596,074. Exactly 10,817 new automobiles were created during Ayrton Senna’s performance in just under 1 hour and 54 minutes.

“I wouldn`t have stopped if it was up to me. But since Alain (Prost) stopped before me and I had time, I thought I should fight with the same weapons”, said Senna after leaving the cockpit.

Out of his three wins in Detroit, this was certainly the most draining for the Brazilian driver. Both physically, since it was a very hot day, and mentally, since it was the second race in only seven days.

The McLaren drivers were still friendly with each other, by then. In a curious twist, a French TV reporter asked Prost to interview Senna after the race. Alain accepted and asked right away if Senna was going to keep winning like in the last two GPs (Canada and USA). The Brazilian respectfully answered that he could only extend his winning streak with his teammate`s help.

With the result in Detroit, Ayrton had his second win in a row, moving closer to the Frenchman in the overall standings (45 to 33). now, they were tied in the number of victories, that season – three for Senna and three for Prost.

Resumo da Corrida

  • 1 Ayrton Senna
  • 2 G. Berger
  • 3 M. Alboreto
  • 4 A. Prost
  • 5 T. Boutsen
  • 6 N. Mansell
  • 7 A. Nannini
  • 8 N. Piquet
  • 9 D. Warwick
  • 10 R. Patrese
  • 11 P. Streiff
  • 12 A. de Cesaris
  • 13 M. Gugelmin
  • 14 P. Alliot
  • 15 E. Cheever
  • 16 P. Martini
  • 17 J. Palmer
  • 18 S. Johansson
  • 19 S. Modena
  • 20 R. Arnoux
  • 21 A.Caffi
  • 22 J. Bailey
  • 23 O. Larrauri
  • 24 Y. Dalmas
  • 25 L. Perez-Sala
  • 26 N. Larini
Voltas 63
Tempo Ensolarado
Volta mais rápida A. Prost - 1´44´´836
Podium 1º Ayrton Senna 2º A. Prost 3º T. Boutsen
Carros 26
Abandonos 17

Senna na corrida

Posição de largada 1
Posição final 1
Melhor volta 1’44’’992
Pontos somados para o Campeonato -
Posição no Campeonato após a prova 2
O que disse após a prova
“In Detroit, you race against the heat and against the walls.”