Six wins in ten years at Formula One’s most glamorous race rewarded Ayrton Senna with the title, “The Master of Monaco.”
Senna won his six races at Monaco between 1987 and 1993. Five of these titles were won consecutively.
The Lotus 99T assisted Senna’s first victory at Monaco. Senna started second on the grid, in front of Nelson Piquet but behind Nigel Mansell. Mansell was solidly building on his lead until he had to retire his Williams FW11B due to a turbo boost failure. This rewarded Senna with the lead, which he held convincingly all the way to the chequered flag. Towards the dying stages of the race, Senna posted the fastest lap time of the race with a 1:27.685. Senna’s soon to be rival; Alain Prost was forced to retire his McLaren from third position, due to an engine failure. Michele Alboreto in his Ferrari was gifted the bottom step of the podium. Second place belonged to Senna’s fellow Brazilian, Nelson Piquet.
The year of 1988 saw Senna drive for McLaren for the first time but it wasn’t until the following year that he was able to gain his second Monaco victory. Senna found pole position, qualifying a full second faster than his teammate, Alain Prost. Senna, still in the lead lost first and second gear, but Senna disguised this issue to the best of his ability and was able to fool his unsuspecting teammate in second. Senna disguised his gearbox issue so well, that Prost did not respond with a final push for the lead, however, Prost finished only 1.1 second slower than Senna.
The 1990 Monaco Grand Prix was chaotic, with only three racers out of thirty completing the full race distance. One of these racers was of course, Ayrton Senna. The other two drivers to complete all 78 laps were Jean Alesi and Senna’s McLaren teammate – Gerhard Berger.
Senna carried the race from pole to his third Monaco victory.
The 1991 Monaco Grand Prix saw Ayrton Senna yet again claim pole position and take it all the way to the end of lap 78. By this time the same words were on everybody’s lips – “The Master of Monaco.” Senna’s pursuers for the race were Stefano Modena for Tyrell-Honda and Riccardo Patrese for Williams-Renault. Lap 42 saw Modena’s engine blow in the tunnel, which spread ample amounts of oil on the track that resulted in Riccardo Patrese crashing out, but Senna had already built up a healthy lead before his pursuers crashed out of the race.
Ayrton Senna had only gained eight points from the run into Monaco, but the stats showed that only two drivers had been victorious in the last eight Monaco Grand Prixs. Those two drivers were Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. Williams-Renualt made significant improvements to their car, and this showed as Nigel Mansell won the first five races of the season. Williams-Renualt was also leading the constructors’ championship with 74 points. It looked like the Williams garage would be celebrating a 1992 Monaco Grand Prix victory. This started to look more probable as Williams gained a one, two lockout, with Mansell on pole and Riccardo Patrese in second. Ayrton Senna’s perfect qualifying streak had come to a close as he followed in third.
The race started under an overcast sky, and Senna immediately leapfrogged Patrese into the St. Devote corner. Mansell held his lead in his much faster Williams until lap 70, when his wheel nut came loose and was forced to pull into the pits. This awarded Senna with the lead. The time deficit was 5.2 second but Mansell pulled this back to just 1.9 seconds in only two laps. The Williams FW14B-Renualt had fresh tyres and was much faster than Senna’s MP4/7A, however, Mansell could not find a way past The Master of Monaco as they battled around the principality for the last three laps.
This was Senna’s fifth win at Monaco, equalling Graham Hill’s record.
Senna, again qualified third in1993, in front of him was Michael Schumacher and Alain Prost.
Prost became too eager and jumped the start. As a result, he was awarded a stop-go penalty, which ultimately knocked him out of the contention for the number one spot. Schumacher suffered hydraulic issues and was forced to retire on lap 33 and Ayrton Senna emerged into the lead and claimed his sixth Monaco race win.
The 2012 Formula One season has been extremely mixed with five different winners in five different races. There is no telling who will claim the top step of the podium in Monaco. This is of stark contrast to the late 80’s and early 90?s when the victor was almost predetermined. Ayrton Senna truly made this race his own and no driver has replicated such dominance since.
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