After an excellent debut year in Formula One with a humble Toleman, Ayrton signed with Lotus for the 1985 season, which meant he would be able to fight for his first wins in the category. In February of that year, Ayrton drove the Lotus 97T for the first time, in Brazil, at the tire tests that took place at the Jacarepaguá Raceway, in Rio de Janeiro.
Lotus had just finished in third in the previous season’s Constructor Championship and had made improvements to the car for 1985. Senna, who would later become a three-time F1 champion with McLaren, was one of the few drivers who took part in the testing in Rio de Janeiro, alongside his new teammate, Elio de Angelis.
Even though he had driven the car in the UK, in the previous week, the rain had prevented Senna from testing the full power of the 97T’s Renault engine, due to the rain. That meant the testing session in Rio was Senna’s first chance to really go fast that year.
“[In England] was my first time driving since the Portuguese GP, in October of last year. I’m looking forward to these testes. It will be an entirely new experience”, said Senna to the press, before getting into the car at Jacarepaguá.
Senna was the fastest driver in the second day of testing in Rio de Janeiro, posting a time of 1min33s34, and a few days later he would beat the circuit’s record, with a time of 1min27s9. It was such an impressive time that it received applause both from fans and his crew at the box.
In the first race of the season, which took place on April 7, 1985, Ayrton started in fourth place after posting a time of 1min28s389 in the qualifying session, but he was forced to retire due to an engine failure in the 8th lap. His greatest achievement in the season, however, took place in the following GP, in Portugal, where Senna won for the first time in Formula One.