At the end of 1982, Ayrton Senna took part in his first race in British Formula 3 at the Thruxton circuit in the United Kingdom and won it. The following year, in 1983, the Brazilian driver shone in the British F3 championship, the last category he participated in before going to Formula 1 and claimed the championship title 37 years ago.
Senna raced for the West Surrey team and his performance in the races opened the door to F1 at that time. It was a season of many battles in Formula 3 between Senna and Martin Brundle, with the Brazilian having a dominant start of the championship and the British recovering mid-way through the end of the season. The title was decided on the last race of the season, a race that Senna won, mending consecutive years of achievements after titles in the Formula Ford 1600 in 1981 and the Formula Ford 2000 in 1982.
Senna claimed 12 wins, 14 podiums and had six retirements in 20 races of the 1983 season in F3, meaning Ayrton was only off the podium when he couldn’t finish the race, showing that pure talent was there inside the cockpit.
With the good performance in 1983, there were some opportunities for Senna to test F1 cars. The British F3 title award was a test in a McLaren-Ford Cosworth F1 and, furthermore, during that year’s season, Frank Williams invited Ayrton to do his first test in an F1 car, which took place in the traditional English circuit of Donington Park.
There were also other invitations, these coming from Brabham and another one from Toleman. That’s because, in 1983, several F1 teams were eyeing Senna’s career rise in F3, however, due to the teams’ contracts at the time, there were few seats actually available for the following year. Senna ended up signing with Toleman-Hart, debuting in F1 in the first race of the 1984 season, in the Brazilian GP.