The closest race finish ever involving Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost took place at the 1988 Hungarian GP, when both McLaren drivers were fighting for first place at Hungaroring, and crossed the finish line just 0s529 apart, after 76 laps.
That race was very important for Senna. The 12th win in the Brazilian’s career meant he was tied in points with Prost for the first time in the season (both had 66), putting him on the trajectory that would lead him to his first world title.
Senna’s job in Hungary was made even harder due to the fact that the Brazilian had to fend off different competitors throughout the race. At the start, Nigel Mansell tried to overtake Ayrton, but ended up in the gravel trap with his Williams Riccardo Patrese, Mansell’s teammate, was also unsuccessful in trying to pass Senna, and his engine overheated.
Next, it was Thierry Boutsen’s turn. At one point, he was just two seconds behind the Brazilian, but he was overtaken by Prost midway through the race. The Frenchman had started in seventh place, but he kept an excellent pace. Even though he caught up to Senna, he was unable to overtake him.
Besides the duel in Hungary, Senna and Prost crossed the finish line less than 5 seconds apart in just three other occasions, when both rivals were fighting for the win. Check them out:
San Marino GP – 1988
In Ayrton Senna’s first win as a McLaren driver, the time difference between the Brazilian driver and Prost was just 2s334. Senna led the race from start to finish and made it clear to the Frenchman that the fight for the title would be fierce, after winning in Imola, where the season’s second race had taken place.
Belgian GP – 1989
The second closest finish between Senna and Prost when both drivers were fighting for the victory took place at Spa Francorchamps. Once again, Senna won from start to finish, now with the added challenge of the rain, which had soaked the Belgian track at the start of the race. At the end of the race, Senna crossed the finish line 1s304 before Prost, who was just 0s520 ahead of Nigell Mansell, who came in third, driving a Ferrari.
Belgian GP – 1990
Once again in Belgium, now in 1990, the time difference between Senna and Prost was very small at the finish line. The Brazilian driver had the pole position at Spa Francorchamps, and he needed a lot of patience, since the race was restarted twice due to accidents. At one point, Ayrton was more than ten seconds ahead of Prost in the fight for the win, but the Frenchman caught up to him in the final laps of the and they crossed the finish line just 3s550 apart.