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The greatest ever lap? New video of Senna on Monaco 1988 and a new book of his races
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Posted By: James Allen  |  01 May 2014   |  11:24 pm GMT  |  125 comments

Twenty years after the death of Ayrton Senna at Imola and McLaren has issued a video of the great man talking about his incredible qualifying lap at the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix.

Widely regarded as one of the greatest laps ever driven in Formula One, which resulted in Senna finishing over 1.4s ahead of nearest rival Alain Prost, the performance seemed to mystify even the Brazilian himself.

“I was kind of driving it by instinct,” he said of the lap. ” I was in a different dimension, I was in a tunnel, well beyond my conscious understanding. Some moments when I am actually driving just detach me completely from anything else.”

Watch the video below:

Also there is a sumptuous new book of all Senna’s races written by veteran F1 journalist Tony Dodgins, which has been published this week. It features photos of all periods of Senna’s career from his friend and supporter Keith Sutton and Tony has done a great job in falling the story of Senna’s stunning career.


Here is the blurb of the book:
“This definitive record of Ayrton Senna’s racing life provides detailed coverage of every single car race in which he competed, including Formula Ford, Formula 3 and Formula 1, in addition to one-off appearances and tests in other categories, such as the World Sports Car Championship and Indy Car. The engaging text features insightful new material drawn from interviews with many of Senna’s rivals and colleagues and is accompanied by a rich array of high-quality period photographs. This lavish book provides a fitting tribute to a Formula 1 legend whose legacy today extends far beyond the world of motor racing.

Page extent: 304pp, colour throughout
Illustration: 260 photographs, mainly colour
Word count: 110,000
Published by Evro Publishing Ltd (www.evropublishing.com)

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125 Comments
  1. Carlos Marques says:

    Senna’s McLaren is beautiful in the photo above…iconic…

    1. Wayne says:

      Agreed, what a beautiful man made sculpture that car is. Everything is proportion, nothing wasted and nothing missing.

      You know what thought, my favourite looking F1 car of all time is the Jordan 191 – simply stunning. From the front it looks like a wave about to break, I swear it’s moving when it stands still.

      1. Dave says:

        The MP4/4 and the 191 were beautiful cars – but my favourite will always be the Williams FW14B

      2. Wayne says:

        No denying, that’s a real beauty too.

    2. Supersi says:

      I agree.
      It would be nice if Mclaren incorporated something like that colour scheme next year when they revive the Honda partnership.

      Great video too!

  2. billy says:

    ahh . . . wheres the video? Thats just a video of someone pretending to be senna getting dressed with a voice over?

    1. Julian F says:

      +1
      That clip is a bit cliche really. Get on youtube, ya’all – and watch Senna really weave his magic.
      Some of the in-car shots during qualifying (around 1990) are awe-inspiring

      1. Julian F says:

        Thanks for your off-forum email enquiring as to whether I was a troll, James.
        I can confirm that I am not – I merely have a different opinion to you.

        All the best with your future endeavours, James

        JF

      2. James Allen says:

        I did not send an email to you and would never send one worded like that.

        I have no idea what you are talking about. Sorry

  3. Matthew Cheshire says:

    Senna sounds like he’s describing a left brain/right brain exprience. Did the man have 2 great drivers in his head?

    It’s very sad to revisit the loss of Senna but also a shame to look back at that age of F1 when it seemed to be a purer form of racing where the driver had so much to contribute and the all the data mining could be done with 1 chunky portable.

    Or are we pulling on the rose tinted glasses?

    1. rasbob says:

      “Or are we pulling on the rose tinted glasses?”

      I don’t think so — nothing that extraordinary lasts for ever. Things, grow flower and fade.

      Modern F1 is Ok, there’s lots to enjoy in it still, but it’s not what it was, at least I don’t think so.

      1. aveli says:

        is it better now? better technology, better engineers, better safety, better tracks, better drivers and better media coverage?

      2. Bring back V12's !!! says:

        No.

      3. Marcbob says:

        Less extreme, less soul, more contrived. In my opinion.

        I guess ‘better’ depends on what one valued in it in the first place. Unarguably though, better or worse it is not what it was….

      4. timw says:

        I don’t think it’s better or worse, just different.

      5. aveli says:

        i like honesty best. fantasies are just fantasies. even the pit stops are better with better jacks, better whelp guns, better tyre blankets and better signals for the drivers to stop and go. f1 has got better with time and will carry on getting better.

      6. aveli says:

        @timw, let’s be honest for a moment. every parameter which is measure alb is better now than it has ever been. teams are better organised to deliver the best and the dramas are better told with better quality videos on websites. can you name a single aspect of the old f1 which was better in the past? even the sound is safer now. the old sound was a health hazard. efficiency has been greatly improved with spectacular night races. please let’s not kid ourselves and face the truth.

      7. warley says:

        Yes things are better in some ways but much is lost. I hope i am wrong but next years new entrants should they get to the grid face huge odds to succeeded. Marussia and Caterham have good people and they are still back markers.

      8. rasbob says:

        Not everything that people value can be measured, and not everything that matters is a parameter. To be honest I couldn’t care less if the pit stops are x percent more efficient or the downforce is increased by y kg, because (although I’m not uninterested in it) for me the engineering was never the primary attraction.

        You asked for a single aspect which was better? Affordable tickets springs to mind. So does not having to have a wretched Sky account to watch all the races. So does James Hunt being able to wander around in bare feet being rude to people without being sacked. So does drivers being able to fight on track without the constant fear of penalties for the smallest mistake.

        It was imperfect, flawed, full on, full of massive egos without the same corporate brakes on their behaviour or on what they said and did. Kimi driving through the smoke at Spa. Even that seems like another era now. Epic battles between tyre companies which could totally shift the balance from weekend to weekend. Pre-qualifying — lots of wannabes having their chance to throw their all at getting onto the grid every weekend. Full grids! Teams turning up with a van rather than a corporate entertainment centre.

        For me all of this was better. You can’t put a figure or a percentage on any of it, but I loved it, and I’m sad it’s changed even as, at the same time, I’m glad that drivers hardly ever get hurt anymore. I realise that other people have other preferences, and priorities. Also I understand that things have to change. That’s fine by me, but I feel what I feel, which is that judged by the things which attracted me, personally, to it in the first place, it is worse.

      9. aveli says:

        @rasbob, great attempt but there is a racing series called formula ford which matches your description. why do you not watch that?
        i remember 6 cars on the grid once because of tyre wars. f1 is cheaper now than it was in the past considering what you get for your money. top quality cars turned out by top quality teams and driven on top quality tracks by the best drivers in the world. people spend a lot more money on their 12 month phone bill than the price of a weekend ticket at silverstone. so goes your definition of affordable.
        the past will always stay in the past. i enjoy living in the present.

      10. aveli says:

        here is how they compare on one circuit.
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cli2XEoca24

      11. Dean Reynolds says:

        I really think you ARE looking all doey eyed at the past. Times change and things progress. Please note the word PROGRESS. The 80s & 90s were a great time for f1 and I believe the greatest driver of them all raced in this era BUT we now have better cars, better tracks, more organised professional teams AND IMO better drivers. Today we have 5 different WD champions on the grid and plenty of exciting talent throughout the field. OK, we have recently had a period of 1 team domination but out was exactly the same back then with Maclaren and then Williams. I wish people would take a realistic view on the past instead of inventing romantic views of the past. Formula 1 is as great now as it has ever been so let’s please stop this monty python esc “when I was a lad” nonsense. I am 34 and have watched f1 since 88…. Just incase you wondered.

      12. rasforte says:

        Are you suggesting that all change is progress? That time is a sort of one directional arrow leading only to ever better things?

        Personally I can think of lots of things that have got better over the last forty years, and lots that have got worse, but from my perspective, F1 is one of the later. I thought it was more fun when it was a bit more of a lairy, balls to the wall sort of thing.

        I thought it was great when any Tom Dick or Harry could put a car together, pop it on a trailer and try to qualify it (remember pre-qualifying?!). I liked the huge, untamed characters, the ridiculousness of qualifying engines, the greater willingness of people to speak their minds rather than toe the corporate line. I liked it when there wasn’t a layer of software between the driver and the machine. I enjoyed it when a small company run by passionate loonies could hope to out-manouver the established players and win. And I even enjoyed the whole playboy driver thing, notwithstanding its obvious tackiness.

        And, though it’s not a popular sentiment, I hugely admired the courage taken to drive those terrifying cars on some of those tracks (just to be clear, I am not saying that the safety improvements are a bad thing, or shouldn’t have happened, I’m just saying that in the process something was lost, is all).

        So from my perspective, though I still enjoy it, I don’t feel the same passion for it anymore. It’s nothing to do with ‘in my day’. It’s to do with the sort of things I like and the sort of person I am. And for people who enjoy the sort of things I have just mentioned it has definitely got worse. People with other preferences may think otherwise, obviously.

    2. Thompson says:

      Lol – that’s definitely a view through rose tinted glasses rasforte.

  4. kenneth chapman says:

    @ james….just curious about the claim that senna’s fastest lap in quali being one of, if not, the greatest lap ever [at monaco]in 1988?

    i think shumacher holds the fastest race lap record at somewhere in the low 1.14 secs and that vettel holds the fastest quali lap at marginally lower than that set by shumacher.

    1. TimW says:

      it says the greatest not fastest

      1. aveli says:

        senna made reference to time, did he not?

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        @timW…why was it deemed to be the ‘greatest’? because it was the ‘fastest’. if you care to think about it you will understand that a margin of 1.4secs is a measure of time calculated by relative speed to the next best time.

        think before you post.

      3. Bring back V12's !!! says:

        Kenneth sorry to burst your bubble mate but TimW is 100% correct here.

      4. TimW says:

        Kenneth, I really don’t understand the point your trying to make, or why I need to “think before I post”. Are you saying that Michael’s achievement is greater because he set a lower lap time? Obviously Schumacher’s car was a lot faster than Senna’s, as it generated massively more downforce, meaning that the two laps are a pointless comparison. The reason a lot of people consider the 88 lap to be the greatest in history is simply the margin of superiority over his (to become) 4 time world champion team mate Prost. It was deamed to be the greatest because it was the fastest on the day, in relation to the other cars on the grid in 1988. The fact that other drivers went quicker later is irrelevant, they had faster cars.

      5. kenneth chapman says:

        @ timW… the point i am making is quite simple. senna happened to put in the fastest lap of the day as you have now acknowledged. your previous post separated the two.

        to catergorise this as the ‘greatest’ is simply adding to the myth that has been built up around senna.

      6. TimW says:

        Kenneth,
        It’s obvious that your personal dislike of Senna is blinding you to the obvious fact that on that day in Monaco, Ayrton did something special. There is a reason why this one lap is so often held up as much more than just another fastest lap of the day. This lap is a good example of a top sportsman at the peak of his abilities delivering a performance that was simply out of reach of the others, obviously the McLaren was the fastest car in 88 so we can only compare Senna’s lap with Prost’s and it was 1.4 seconds faster. In Formula one terms 1.4 seconds is an enormous gap and cannot be explained away with car set up or other “variables” as you have tried to claim. Alain Prost didn’t become a 4 time world champion by not knowing how to set his car up properly, he has been quoted as saying he was happy with the balance of the car and had no technical problems and wasn’t blocked by another driver, and yet Senna went so much faster. Lots of formula one experts have given lots of good reason why this lap should be counted as one of the all time greats, you don’t think it should, but you haven’t come up with any reasons at all why it shouldn’t, and also haven’t come up with a more deserving lap. It’s clear that the only problem you have with recognising the greatness of this lap is that is was set by Senna, someone you have labelled a “headcase” and described as “mentally unstable”, these descriptions are as insulting as they are innacurate, Senna was of course flawed but he wasn’t some sort of nutcase ramming fellow competitors off the track at every opportunity. Neither of the Suzuka crashes with Prost should have happened but the fact that they did doesn’t detract from the massive talent Senna possesed, he wasn’t perfect, his belief in his own superiority led him to think that the others should just get out of his way, and on rare occasions he was capable of deliberately making contact with another car, he isn’t alone in doing this of course and none of that is relevent to the question asked at the top of the page, “The greatest ever lap?” I am one of the many who think it might just be, if you want me to join the “enlightened” as you put it, who think it isn’t then come up with an actual reason. and if you can’t. then think before you post.

    2. Andrew says:

      Kenneth, Vettel’s fastest lap wasn’t 1.4 seconds faster than Webber’s at the time.

      Senna was 1.4 seconds better than Prost, one of the all time greats, and a driver who beat 4 other world champions (Lauda, Mansell, Rosberg and Hill when driving in the same team.

      Vettel’s actual level amongst his peers will be completely reassessed this season.

      1. Bring back V12's !!! says:

        Agreed, Vettel is a good driver no doubt,very consistent… but he’s definitely not THE best driver on the grid, I can think of 3, 4, even 5 modern day drivers I’d rather have in my theoretical F1 fantasy team, of all time he wouldn’t even make my top 10 :P Not that Vettel cares about my F1 fantasy league games ;)

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        @ bring back the v12′s….sorry to disappoint you, bubble still intact.

      3. Mhilgtx says:

        Be sure to get a jab in on Vettel who unlike Prost and Senna has yet to wreck a competitor in order to win a WDC.

        Senna was possibly the best ever especially in the wet but let’s not bash others simply because they are of a different nationality or not driving a FerrAri.

      4. andrew says:

        Multi 21!

      5. German Samurai says:

        Andrew, Senna reneged on an agreement with Prost at San Marino in 1989.

        It’s different of course because it’s Senna. “Ohhh he reneged on an agreement it shows his passion and competitiveness!”

        Senna rams rams another driver off the circuit at high speed in order to win a championship. “Ohhh that Latin fire and passion!”

        Schumacher’s performances in the wet in the late 90′s were more impressive than Senna at Donnington in 93. Senna himself thought it was no big deal because the McLaren had by far the best electronics package on the grid. The Benetton didn’t even have traction control, didn’t have a semi-automatic gearbox, didn’t have active suspension.

      6. kenneth chapman says:

        @andrew…. margins, to a very large extent, are meaningless simply because of the variables that can manifest themselves on any given day with any given driver at any given race.

        yes, senna’s margin to prost was considerable on the day. no one is arguing that point. he was simply the fastest on the day, nothing more and nothing less. IMO of course.

    3. Carl Sheen says:

      It isn’t about the time, it is about the time in comparison to his competition.

      On any given day in any given car in any given era there is a limit to how fast a car can go.

      What made Senna’s lap so good was it is one of the rare occasions where a driver transcended what his car was physically capable of.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ carl sheen….once again some people have strange ideas. no one can, as you state, ‘transend what his car was capable of’. how many times does it need to be said.

        it is impossible to get anything more out of a car than ‘that car’ is capable of producing at any given time. to suggest otherwise is pure fantasy.

      2. Bring back V12's !!! says:

        Technically you’re correct but we all know what Carl meant. No need to be pedantic, he was just stating that what Senna did in that car was ridiculously skillful and that that car should not normally have posted times like that.

      3. Carl Sheen says:

        I would argue that going 1.4 seconds faster than a 4 time world champion team mate in equal machinery is transcending the machinery.

        If you want to be pedantic it is at least extracting closer to its maximum than anyone else could.

        Your argument is pure semantics and pedantry, the point is almost irrefutable.

      4. Mhilgtx says:

        Fantasy and physics have this terrible way of clashing don’t they.

      5. kenneth chapman says:

        @ carl sheen….argue all you like. the facts are simple. the point is, no one, even your idolised senna, cannot get more performance out of a car than it can produce unless you don’t believe in the laws of physics?

        to subscribe to the senna myth does nothing for credibilty. yes, he was the fastest driver on the day, by a considerable margin, so what?

        to denigrate my post as simply ‘semantics and pedantry’ is a pointless attempt to once again illustrate a denial of the facts.

      6. kenneth chapman says:

        @ bring back the V12′s… ‘and that the car should not normally have posted times like that’? all F1 cars, whether in ’88 or ’14, are subjected to a degree of complexity and sometimes a team/driver manages to pull all the variables together on the day.

        obviously it did allow the driver to set a very good time. to infer that there was any other reason is futile as some have said. one poster even went as far as to say that senna transended the car!! as if. to transend is to go beyond the limits, and we all know that that is rubbish.

        what i am saying is quite simple. i don’t subscribe to the senna myth and that is my opinion and as valid as anyone elses. likewise your opinion reflects your take on the matter as well. no problem.

      7. Alex says:

        Kenneth, there are many people here that likes the fantasy and mythology, today all the time I read people saying that Alonso outdrives the Ferrari which as you said it is imposible, many people say including Hamilton that the driver is 20% and the car 80%, I ask, of what? percentage is a relative measure. Of the lap time? impossible, I think the difference between a good driver and an average one is that the first one can take the most of the car while the other don’t, simple, if Senna could do that lap time and Prost not is amazing, but saying he was in another dimension, tunnel vision, extra corporal experience … I don’t buy it, that is just a egocentric way to say “I was really focused”. Technically it could be said that he was driving like some surgeons who learn to not use their brains but their cerebellums in order to not to think while doing the surgery and avoid mistakes.

    4. DMyers says:

      There have been changes to the circuit, so the laps aren’t comparable.

    5. JSpeed says:

      English is not my first language, but I can notice the diference in between “greatest lap” and “fastest lap”.

      1. aveli says:

        timers are used to time the laps so what makes a lap great?

      2. TimW says:

        What makes a lap great is how close to perfection it is. Prost had no problems in qualifying and thought he had done a good lap but Senna went 1.4 seconds faster. The timers tell us this. Laps set in later years using different track configurations and cars with much more downforce can’t be compared.

      3. aveli says:

        the truth is a lot easier to deal with. i don’t feel the need to talk about things which are not there. if the fastest lap is not the perfect lap what is?
        2014 gp2 cars are as fast as and pull as much g forces as the cars prost and senna drove.
        f1 has moved on and is a class above f1 of the days you dream about.
        timers do nothing but tell the time as it is. what is used to measure a perfect lap? something in your mind i bet.

      4. TimW says:

        Aveli, I don’t dream about the good old days of F1, they are in the past but shouldn’t be forgotten or dismissed as irrelevent. I love modern F1, just as I have always loved it. Your argument that the fastest lap is the greatest doesn’t make sense, the greatest lap is the one that was as close as possible to what the car can achieve. looking at the gap to his team mate Senna’s lap is judged by every expert I have ever heard discuss it as being near perfect. the fact that someone else 20 years later in a much faster car went quicker still is irrelevent.

      5. kenneth chapman says:

        @Jspeed….. english is my first language and i can tell you this, for free. it was only termed the greatest because it was 1.4 secs faster than the next best time. that my friend is a measurement of relative speed= ergo,fastest. can’t be any clearer can it?

      6. kenneth chapman says:

        @ dan, am enjoying this debate. it would seem that i have struck a nerve with some posters.

        regards your last post, where you state that there is a difference between greatest and fastest. let me ask you a question..if senna had been beaten to pole by a tenth would it still rank as the greatest lap ever?

      7. JSpeed says:

        James’ article was much clear than your comment, that shows us how you missed the point. In other words, the qualitative(greatest) measurement is different of the quantitative(fastest) measurement. Can you get that?

      8. kenneth chapman says:

        @JSpeed…see my post to dan above. can you get that?

    6. Longy says:

      Greatest, not fastest. Although it’s such a personal thing, different cars, tracks, conditions etc. I think Senna’s opening lap and Donnington 1993 might shade it for me…

    7. Dan says:

      No one claims that Senna’s lap was the outright fastest ever, the 2004 Ferrari will probably hold many lap records for the foreseeable future simply because of the evolution of the cars between 1988 and 2004, and the devolution since that time in terms of pace. The point is that Senna’s lap was so far ahead of anyone else that day in relatively equal machinery. A 1.4 second gap to a teammate who is a world champion and did not have any car issues, at a track as short as Monaco, is simply mind blowing.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ dan…read the thread banner which postulates the ‘greatest lap ever?’ what made it the supposed greatest lap ever? because it was 1.4 secs FASTER than the next best. ergo, greatest lap=fastest lap. ‘EVER’ well that has been dispelled over time.

        nothing more to add really. if people want to believe in fantasy then that’s fine by me.

      2. Bring back V12's !!! says:

        You’re embarrassing yourself mate, you’re not understanding all the variables/parameters in the equation. You obviously have a problem with Senna for some reason which is fine, we’re all entitled to an opinion. But your comments are the ones that aren’t making sense, not everyone else.

        Being 1.4 secs a lap faster than Prost is not the only reason this lap is considered the greatest can you not get your head around that?

      3. Dan says:

        What made it the greatest lap ever was the fact that he was arguably closer to the absolute limit of the car than anyone before or since. That is subjective, and the way that one can demonstrate that is a driver’ s pace relative to his peers in equal or near equal machinery on a given day. Senna had a much faster lap time on that day than a field full of highly talented professionals. His pace relative to any other laps over time is irrelevant, the only comparison that determines the lap’s greatness is the pace relative to the other cars in 1988. It’s not fantasy, it’s understanding that “greatest” and “fastest” are not the same thing, even if a time gap is referenced in support of a “greatest ever” assertion.

      4. Me says:

        “greatest lap=fastest lap”

        Why do you think that?

        “nothing more to add really. if people want to believe in fantasy then that’s fine by me.”

        You’ve obviously got the wrong end of the stick, or even missed the stick entirely.

      5. Thompson says:

        Oh my….. History

        I missed the Senna years, started watching f1 with interest from 88, but imo the greatest lap in F1 history still has to be Damon Hills in 97 in an Arrows on Bridgestones in Hungry was it.
        A genuine freak of a lap that saw him take 3rd on the grid.

        Thing about Senna that I have noticed in the recent interviews now showing are the commentators just falling short of calling him an out and out nutter who was reckless and dangerous.

        A mandalodo of his day albeit in a car/team capable of winning championships .

        Not speaking ill of him but, I find it amazing how legends are created when you were there to see the history unfold.

        Towards the end Senna was not stable . If you can guys watch his later interviews maybe you’ll see it.

  5. Roger says:

    Is there any video of the actual lap itself?

  6. kenneth chapman says:

    ooops…i meant to add that the lap time by senna was around 1min.24secs almost ten seconds slower that the times i mentioned above.

    1. Tim says:

      I think you’re completely missing the point. Greatest lap ever does not mean fastest lap ever. The cars that Schumacher and Vettel drove were massively more advanced. The greatest lap is where the driver takes the car to the limit (and beyond) of its potential, and does something with it that no other driver could even dream of.

      On that basis, Monaco 1988 is absolutely the greatest lap ever.

      1. aveli says:

        tell us what greatest lap means then. all I know is that timers are used to measure the laps.

      2. kenneth chapman says:

        @tim…. no i am not missing the point. for the record, once more, senna’s lap was deemed to be by some of the unenlightened as the ‘greatest’. why was it deemed so? because it was the ‘fastest’. maybe it was the fastest lap at the time, but ‘ever’? c’mon get real.

        to even suggest that any driver can take a car ‘beyond its potential’ is just dumb. no car can be driven beyond its potential. it is an impossibility. time for some realism here.

      3. Dan says:

        No car can be driven beyond its potential, but certain drivers at certain times can come closer to the absolute potential of the car than others. You seem to be hung up on a language nuance and you’re missing the point entirely. When someone says, “that had to be the greatest drive ever, he won the race by 5 seconds in a Marussia!”, would you then counter by saying that it can’t be a great drive because someone else had a bigger gap over the field or a faster total race time at that circuit the previous year? That’s absurd.

      4. kenneth chapman says:

        @dan… thank you for acknowledging that no car can be driven beyond its potential. if a marussia wins in barcelona next weekend by a margin of 5 secs then that would be a ‘great drive’ but the ‘greatest ever’. don’t be absurd.

      5. KRB says:

        [mod]
        Fastest ever is not what it’s about. It’s that he beat his teammate, an eventual 4x DWC (and unlucky not to have more), in the same car, by 1.427s, around Monaco! And it’s not like Prost had problems, or whether it was a one lap one-off. This is Prost who had won the race from 1984-86, and had 3 poles there from the previous 5 Monaco GPs.

        This isn’t really hard to follow.

    2. Iwan says:

      “The Greatest Lap Ever” does not refer to outright lap time from then until eternity and especially not compared to a car designed and raced decades later.

      For THAT TIME the lap was…above human. He was so much faster than anyone else and kept improving lap after lap after lap, that it has become a lap of legend.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @iwan…’above human’? in your dreams.

    3. KRB says:

      You have to compare it to what everyone else AT THE TIME was able to do. He beat them all by 1.47 secs, even his teammate.

    4. The greatest ever lap doesn’t have to be the fastest. It’s ridiculous to compare lap times from different seasons with totally different cars like you are.

      Senna’s lap is one of the greatest ever, because he beat his teammate by 1.4s. Same car, same conditions, against one of the best drivers ever (Prost). That is what makes it so great.

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @michael brown… err no. the greatest lap ‘ever’ means over all time.

        that lap in monaco was simply the fastest, on the day. yes, it was by a considerable margin, so what? you say, same car, same conditions but that is a subjective argument and it is not possible to know that for certain.

        if you have been following F1 for as long as i have then you would know that there are anomalies thrown up from time to time that seem to be, on the surface, unexplainable but in reality are simply a series of conditions that come together at the right time in the right place.

        my problem is that i don’t get carried away with all the senna hype and the distortion of simple facts in order to create a mythical hero.i am also aware that my stance is definitely among the minority. i can live with that.

        i have witnessed some great laps set by great drivers. i hope that it will remain that way.

      2. andrew says:

        Kenneth, if you don’t rate Senna then by extension you don’t rate Prost, who he beat, or Lauda, Rosberg or Mansell, who Prost beat etc.

        So who do you rate then?

      3. Thompson says:

        To be fair to Kenneth Chapman I can see were he is comming from.

        Maybe the correct wording to this is Senna took the car to its maximum potential. But this has been done on so many occasions and by drivers currently on the grid.

        Looking at inter team rivalry – Hamilton and Vettel have delivered some dossies over the past few seasons over their team mates and the field – more or less locking out poles between them.

        Legends……..

      4. Me says:

        “if you have been following F1 for as long as i have then you would know that there are anomalies thrown up from time to time”

        Ah… an expert.

      5. kenneth chapman says:

        @ andrew…no you are wrong again by making that assumption. i have never said that senna wasn’t fast and that he was a good driver. my point has always been that he wasn’t the ‘greatest ever’ as some, in fact a lot, of people seem to think.

        i also happen to think that all the drivers you have listed were very good and in many cases equal to anything that senna did on the track at times.

        as an example i would classify webber’s first win at monaco as one of the very best that i have witnessed. no, he never won a WDC but that does not mean that on the day his drive wasn’t right up there with the very best. lots of drivers are capable of achieving this given, as i have said on many occasions,everything comes right on the day.

        senna did on occasions extract every last ounce/gram out of his car but so did a lot of others. the difference is, IMO, none of those were as mentally flawed as senna by way of deliberately driving competitors off the track. prost only retaliated to senna’s provocation and dishonesty after a pre race agreement. similar in fact to what vettel did to webber in malaysia. people boo vettel for what he did and that was not nearly as despicable as some of senna’s actions?

        i do think that we have taken this debate as far as possible now. let us just agree to disagree. we both have entrenched positions so there is nothing to be gained by carrying on.

      6. kenneth chapman says:

        @ me…..no,just an ardent follower over the past 55 years.

  7. Sebee says:

    You know what is also great about lap? It sounds bloody awesome.

    It is obvious that I can’t help myself.

  8. JohnBt says:

    The two most memorable races of Senna were the drenched race at Monaco when he wringed the Toleman and should have won from Prost if the race was not stopped, I still feel there’s a racial element involved. In fact Prost looked so stunned during podium ceremony that it showed obviously on his facial expression. Then the fight he had to put up with Mansell also at Monaco, brilliant defense all the way and Senna could not even lift the trophy up while Mansell needed assistance to get on the podium. Year after year we follow F1 hoping to catch races we can talk about for years to come. Well I guess it’s a gamble fans have to take too and I’ll keep watching even though this season is lack lustre. Something good and thrilling might just happen, you never know. The closest we had was at Bahrain between Lewis and Nico.

    1. DMyers says:

      Bellof was catching both of them at the time, so his Tyrrell could well have won (before the team were thrown out of the championship).

    2. aveli says:

      now that’s my favourite!

  9. goferet says:

    It’s really incredible to qualify ahead of your teammate by 1 second at any track. It’s even more incredible to do so at a track like Monaco and what’s even more amazing is beating a champion teammate in Prost who knew his way around the track with 4 wins to his name.

    Yes, I recall Lewis being asked if there was one question he would ask Senna that would be how he was able to qualify over 1 second ahead of the rest at Monaco.

    As usual it was a shame Mclaren were able to once again shoot themselves in the foot by asking Senna to come out of the zone when they told him to slow down which in turn lead to his lose of concentration and subsequent crash out of the race >>> but oh well, that’s racing for you.

    Actually, this lap has made me look forward to the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix qualifying >>> it’s going to be so much fun seeing Lewis going toe to toe with Vettel in equal cars (surely Rosberg won’t be on pole this year)

    1. Gaz Boy says:

      Goferet, unfortunately I haven’t got Sky, so I will miss live coverage of this years Monaco qualifying – but you are right, it should be a mighty battle for the important pole position/front row start of the year! You’re also right about Nico Ros; the way he is getting kicked in the gonads by Lewis (metaphorically speaking) he will do well to be within half a second of Lewis in qualifying. Prove me wrong Nico, prove me wrong!
      As for Senna at Monaco, I wonder if his early apex technique was more conducive to a faster qualifying time, especially Monaco? Professor Prost used less rotational mass than Ayrton, that is well known, so that could be part of the reason for his massive advantage over the little Frenchman.

      1. goferet says:

        @ Gaz Boy

        M8, how about watching quali from a pub.

        It’s not to be missed, I reckon.

      2. Gaz Boy says:

        I’m not a fan of Rupert, but I will listen to a certain radio show on the BBC fronted by a certain Mr James Allen for that session!
        To be honest, the race, if dry, will probably be processional……….but if it rains on the other hand………..remember 1996 or 2008?

  10. David Morton says:

    Just look at the Marlboro McLaren in the picture above. That was a clean simple car, front wing, back wing, and bloody great tires and gobs of downforce. A sweet looking car without all the gee gaws we have today sprouting out of every where on the car. Probably has a 1000 hp and a hoot to drive and watch.
    To bad we have gone down the road we are on today.

    1. Jonathan says:

      yeah so much downforce they have learnt nothing since!

      Get serious.

      all those little bits you complain about are all there to maximising downforce. That is why they can go faster these days. All that see-sawing at the wheel was about snatching little bits of grip here and there when available. Today’s downforce means a fast lap can be driven very smoothly.

  11. Grant H says:

    Goose bumps…James i think this is the perfect lap you were posting about

  12. Jake says:

    Greatest ever lap? That is a very big call. We will never know the greatest ever lap, but of course it is great to discuss.
    Senna’s quali lap at Monaco was certainly a great one, but I would pull short of lofting to the top of the pile until I have seen all the candidates.

    With that in mind I would love to see links to some other great single laps in F1.

  13. Timmay says:

    What a waste of mobile bandwidth – its just an actor putting on a Senna helmet & overalls.

  14. MikeR says:

    Shows what can be achieved when a supreme talent has as great car in which he has supreme confidence.

  15. t3x says:

    So… where is the video of the lap?

    1. There is no footage of the best lap in F1 history, the only onboard camera that weekend in Monaco was attached to the Lotus 100T. F1 coverage back then was terrible at best and I find it a travesty we won’t ever see Ayrton sawing at the wheel as he drove ‘that’ lap. I can’t even find trackside footage from qualifying…

      PS The footage you see in the film Senna etc is actually footage from 1989 etc spliced to fit the profile

      1. Curro says:

        +1

        The mistique on that lap is great and actually contributes to the legend of Senna and Formula 1 itself.

        But the fact is, there is no footage.

        One could argue that Keke Rosberg’s lap around (old) Silverstone in 1985 was equually daunting. Or Lauda at the Nurburgring in 1975. Or…

        It is great to remember great champions but sometimes things are blown out of proportion.

  16. MrF1 says:

    McLaren released a video of the Senna ‘Talking’ about his lap.

    None of you have been deceived. Just read it properly

  17. kenneth chapman says:

    how can it be the ‘greatest lap ever’?

    1. aezy_doc says:

      It’s surely a contender? Obviously there is no footage, but the result relative to his team mate – the great Alain Prost no less – was astounding and still is. For me Senna’s first lap at Donnington is up there for driver skill as is the last lap in Brazil ’08 for drama. It depends what you would use as your measure of ‘great’. The greatest race is not necessarily the one they finish the quickest!

    2. Fernando "150%" Alonso says:

      @kenneth! We got your point man! Stop it!

      1. kenneth chapman says:

        @ fernando etc etc etc….as far as i am aware this site is open to all and if i receive a query then i will have the good manners to answer it whenever possible.

  18. John says:

    We all know he was a great driver but… there are honourable ways of winning. I still remember the darker side and things that he did that were questionable. I also remember donning ton in the rain though where he was outstanding. I mean in another league. As for Monaco and the Mansell defence. Mansell was so much faster in the Williams and defending at Monaco is not the most difficult track in the world.

  19. Paul Mc says:

    This anniversary has definitely rekindled a lot of nostalgia and love for F1 that I struggle with in todays format. Its a completely different sport from what it is now and I feel we have definitely lost that something special in it.

  20. Chris Chong says:

    Surely Senna’s first lap of Donnington 1993 was the best ever.

    1. German Samurai says:

      He had an electronics package far superior to the opposition. This gave him a great advantage in the wet.

      Schumacher in the Benetton was powerless as he didn’t have traction control, no semi-automatic gearbox, no active suspension.

  21. Paul D says:

    Senna pulled out some wonderful committed pole laps.

    I do think people get into a touch of hysteria about this one due to Senna’s trance comments as if it was other worldly. Reality is ever car has a physical, mechanical limit around every corner and Senna nailed this one on the limit of the car. You can’t go ‘beyond the limit’ without spinning or hitting the wall hence the definition of limit!

    1. kenneth chapman says:

      @ paul D… a sensible approach which is totally defensible.

  22. blackshocks says:

    Kimi’s lap at Monaco 2005 was quite something. 1 second faster than Montoya and the best part was Alonso thought that he’s lap was not going to be beaten (by half a second!)

    1. H.Guderian (ALO fan) says:

      And now, Kimi is being beaten by Alonso by *ONE SECOND* in the same car. Funny, isn’t it???

  23. Olivier says:

    Alain Prost’s tribute to his nemesis is a fascinating read:

    http://www.autoweek.com/article/20140501/F1/140439993

  24. Shervin says:

    RIP, Ayrton

    I was wondering in the this new F1 era where there are so many regulations and restrictions, where races are managed by the engineers and drivers cannot push to the limit and beyond, are we going to see any “the greatest ever lap” once more by any of these brilliant drivers like LH, FA, SV, KR, …?

    When I’m thinking about it, one of the major contributor factor to the F1 popularity mostly is the way the drivers were racing in the past beside the raw power of the cars and technology.

    “You are competing to win, and if you no longer go for a gap, you are no longer a racing driver”. Senna told former F1 champion Jackie Stewart.

    “You must understand,” said the Honda engineer. “To them, you are The Professor [Prost]. But he [Senna], he is the Samurai.”.

  25. alex says:

    I saw this video the other day. It was an incredible lap. I am still stunned by the first lap at Donnington in 1993.

    I saw Senna once, in Montreal in 1993. He started 8th, and was 3rd after about 3 laps. Stunning passes at the hairpin on the V12 Ferraris of Alesi and Berger.

    Would have loved to watch him fight Schumacher. That was a great loss.

  26. DC says:

    Senna’s biggest fan really was Senna.

  27. KenC says:

    It’s the “greatest” because the differential between him and an all-time great like Prost was so large. The problem with comparisons for Schumi is that Schumi never had an all-time great for a teammate. For Vettel, the same. I’m sure one can find examples of one teammate out qualifying another by 1.4secs, but are they comparing anyone to the quality of Prost?

  28. Bob Jackson says:

    Three words:

    Fangio
    Nürburgring
    1957

  29. pallys says:

    “F1 should be about hard racing, pushing to the limit and fighting.”

    This.

    Which wasn’t given a high profile when Pirelli came in a few years ago. They said it was great. I thought great that drivers were tip toeing around the track with the cheese tires year after year?

    Great that the Hamilton’s of this world could not push to the limit providing that visual excitement?

    Great that like Senna…we no longer see Hamilton dancing the car around the track steering with his rear axle?

    But what I don’t understand is why this message is coming out now. Though I have a theory, it’s either because:
    1) Mercedes are winning OR
    2) Hamilton is winning

    Here’s a hint to the answer:
    Before the season:- Cerebral qualities we were told is needed to win in this formula. Certain drivers would be disadvantaged.
    Now:- Cerebral qualities is not even mentioned anymore and not being credited to the ones that seem to make his tyres last longer PLUS save more fuel PLUS all while being faster than the rest.

    What’s the world coming too? where is the justice?

    Senna would have said Pirelli tyres no good for racing at the limit.
    Schumacher said Pirelli tyres no good racing at the limit.

    Funnily – I actually think they are now racing much more at the limit than the last 3 years because the Pirelli tires have hardened up.

    Fuel consumption is not an issue – we’ve been told this by the teams already.

    There’s also DRS – Senna would be turning in is grave because where before you had to be talented to overtake now you just press a button. It would have taken away Senna’s advantage, and today probably nerfs Hamilton the most.

    In summary this year is much better than the last 3 years which was all Pirelli Pirelli Pirelli.

    1. Thompson says:

      I see that too…….

      The cars look better than ever, the racing between teammates closer than ever. (the Merc and Ferrari make Senna’s Macca look like a box)

      The racing is better even the sound gets a decent growl out of my sub when turned up.

      But many are still not satisfied……

  30. Steven Pritchard says:

    Would have been nice to see the lap itself rather than some pretentious artsy clip! :P

  31. Lalul says:

    James, did drivers share telemetry in 1988 like today? One of the mclaren men says senna had a particular method changing gear with left hand into lowes hairpin, would prost then not have has access to this info and copied him?

  32. Darren Lin says:

    Mr.Allen, in your opinion, how do you think about Ayrton Senna?

    1. James Allen says:

      The greatest ever

      1. Darren Lin says:

        How do you mean by the greatest ever?

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