Senna was not just a fast driver. He was just the fastest driver one could race against.
While others would set lap-records and fastest times with a margin of a few tenths of a second from the existing record, Senna would settle for no less than a whole second or at least three-quarters of second.
“He had this God gifted talent,” as Brundle put it, “a sixth sense, which gave him full knowledge of where in the track the grip would be before he went into a corner.
The moment you see him do a lap, you’re bound to say, “I can’t do that.” As simple as that.” He was known to drive completely on the limit and set some of the most blistering lap times in his ten year career. “He used to emerge out of corners and overtake a whole lot of other drivers with the most consummate ease. Other drivers wouldn’t even have him in their mirrors a few seconds back, but suddenly .. poof! He’s gone past them.” The fact that he won 65 pole positions in 162 races when pitched against Schumacher’s 68 pole-positions in 269 races more than cements him as the speed overlord.
His qualifying greatness reached it’s epitome in Monaco 1988, when he out-qualified his arch-rival and team mate Alain Prost by a staggering 1.5 seconds. Brundle recollects that “Nobody in the end wanted to spoil Senna’s pole lap. When the day-glow McLaren and the very bright helmet of Ayrton Senna would come through, we’d literally jump out of the way. You didn’t one to be the one who’d blown the lap of the one everybody was talking about, the lap that entire Grand Prix venue was looking forward to.
On the track, Senna could be ruthless, showing extreme determination and precision, especially in qualifying, a discipline he had mastered like no one before.When Senna was actively racing, he drove againts many great drivers, and other middle field drivers who can compete with the front runners as well. Almost any car you put in the grid can win,this was due to the turbo era. It really does not matter who has the fastest car, what matters is that the drivers are the ones who are fast.
This is good because the viewers can see the real talent and bravery of the drivers. Senna was the king of qualifying and speed. Most of Senna’s team mate were out paced in qualifying consistently. When Senna was given the opportunity to drive for a competitive team, he can get the results others could not. When Senna was driving for Lotus, he proved that in a decent car with plenty of reliability he can win races, and also take pole position more often.
This was a great way to proved also to the critics that he had what it takes to win in a car that was not a world beater. This shows that he can trancend the normal limitations of the car. Senna always did what others couldn’t do, which was the 1 lap qualifying mastery. He hardly made mistakes on qualifying and he always take the pole. He was almost too fast for himself sometimes. Like the time in 1988 Monaco GP, he out qualified his team mate by almost 2 seconds. That’s very impressive and to top it all off, he was racing against none other than the great racing driver, Alain Prost.Before Senna’s untimely death, he had a massed a 65 pole position. That record stood there in the record book for more than a decade.
video from Silvio Zatti youtube channel