On July 29, 1990, Ayrton Senna achieved a feat that has never been repeated in F1 history: he won the German GP for three years in a row. The McLaren driver triumphed in 1988, 1989 and 1990 at Hockenheim, a circuit known for its long straights that cut through the German Black Forest.
Throughout history, several drivers came close to achieving the same distinction, but none of them were able to do it. Juan Manuel Fangio, for instance, won the German GP in 1954, 1956 and 1957, but the race wasn’t held in 1955, preventing him from wining in three consecutive years. Alberto Ascari, an Italian driver who made his name in the ‘50s, won in 1950, 1951 and 1952, but the 1950 race wasn’t an official Formula One race yet. The GP would become an official part of the category’s calendar in the following year.
Back in Senna’s time, the Brazilian driver’s wins in Germany were crucial to how the 1988, 1989 and 1990 championships turned out. In those three years, Ayrton’s main rival was Alain Prost, and all three times the Brazilian arrived at Hockenheim in second place overall, right behind the Frenchman.
In 1988, Senna won from start to finish, and the gap between him and his rival shrunk from six to three points in the standings. By the end of the year, Ayrton would be the world champion.
On year later, in 1989, Senna overtook Prost in the final lap, an important result that enabled the Brazilian to keep fighting for the title against his teammate, who ended up winning the championship after a controversial race at Suzuka.
In 1990, Senna won and Prost finished in fourth place with a Ferari, catapulting the Brazilian to the top of the standings. The Frenchman was two points ahead before that GP, but Senna walked out of Hockenheim with a four-point advantage.
In 2017, the German GP was left out of the F1 calendar, but the race is scheduled to return in 2018, once again at the Hockenheim circuit. The track’s layout has been modified since Senna’s racing days. With fewer straights, the forest section was retaken by nature and the circuit was shortened – from 6.8 to 4.5 KM.