THE Formula One circus moves to Monaco this weekend, so the time is ripe to relive one of the greatest qualifying laps of all time, driven by Ayrton Senna.
Many Formula One competitors have struggled to get a handle on the tight, unforgiving corners at Monaco. Lewis Hamilton describes it as a circuit that “takes no prisoners”, and Nelson Piquet famously hated driving there.
Yet Senna stands above all others as the driver most in-tune with Monaco’s layout. The Brazilian F1 legend led every lap at Monaco between 1989 and 1991. He won it six times in ten years.
In 1988, Senna put his McLaren in pole position with a gap of more than 1.4 seconds to Alain Prost in second. It‘s viewed as the best-ever lap at the famous street circuit, and regarded by some as the best single lap in F1 history.
Senna said, “I was kind of driving it by instinct. I was in a different dimension. The circuit for me was a tunnel and I was just going, going, going. I was well beyond my conscious understanding."
“On that day, I said to myself, ‘that was the maximum for me; no room for anything more.’ I never really reached that feeling again.”
Let’s look back at Senna’s incredible ability through this clip from Monaco in 1990 – his second championship year – driving the McLaren MP4/5, its 3.5-litre V10 engine at full noise.
Sit back and turn the speakers up. This is the knife-edge stuff that makes Formula One such a spectacle.