“It is six o’clock in the morning. Intercontinental wishes you a wonderful day.” The temperature is 78.8 degrees and the forecast indicates good weather”
On Sunday, March 25, 1984, the day of the Formula 1 race, Ayrton Senna had been awake since 5 am. And when the automated good morning message played from the alarm call, he responded all the same and jumped out of bed.
The qualifying of the previous day had not been promising: Ayrton Senna expected to get a good position, even though he was competing with big names like Niki Lauda, Alain Prost (McLaren), Keke Rosberg (Williams), Nelson Piquet (Brabham) and Nigel Mansell (Lotus), and against the power of engines from Porsche-TAG, Honda, Renault, BMW and Ferrari, which were superior to the Hart engine in his Toleman. But with a strange vibration coming from his front suspension, he managed to secure the 16th position on the grid, in the eighth row. Italian Elio de Angelis took the pole position, his first one ever.
Even starting at the eighth row, Senna was the best-placed newcomer. The other drivers experiencing the thrill of their first GP were: Martin Brundle in 18th, Fançois Hensault in 19th, Stefan Bellof in 22nd and Phillipe Alliot, in 25th. There were 27 cars on the grid.
Since Monday, Senna seemed to know exactly how far he could go. before the qualifying session, Ayrton discussed his expectations for that historic day in his career: “As far as my car goes, the Toleman is strong and sturdy, but, right now, it’s an outdated model in terms of speed. This will have an impact on my starting position. During the time trials, my chances of getting a good position are very slim”, said Senna in an interview with brazilian radio broadcast Jovem Pan.
“When the race starts, due to the low fuel-consumption of my Hart engine, and to my car’s durability, we have a good chance of gaining positions lap by lap. Eventually, after one and a half, two hours [of racing], we can even finish in a surprising position”, he said in the same interview. “The most important thing is to keep calm and give my best during those two hours, and to take the result – whether good or really bad – as the start of a new phase in my career, in which I’ll need all the experience I can get”, he added.
Though it was his debut, Ayrton Senna started well, far away from the spotlight of international broadcasting. He performed well, considering where his starting position, more or less as he had predicted. On the second lap, the Toleman driver was already fighting for 13th place with German Stefan Bellof (Tyrell), after gaining three positions in the first lap.
Ayrton reached the ninth place. He was only stopped by his Hart engine, which went out on the eighth lap.
“It seems like the turbocharger broke down. Something happened because the car started vibrating a lot. It was very sudden”, said Senna, at the garages, to the Brazilian TV network Rede Globo.
To improve matters slightly, that day in Rio de Janeiro was a truly beautiful and sunny one. The race was one by Alain Prost. Keke Rosberg and Elio de Angelis rounded out the podium. It wasn’t the debut he was hoping for. But, a few GPs later, the whole world would get a glimpse of the full potential of a young driver named Ayrton Senna – as a heavy rain fell over the narrow streets of Monaco…
source: Ayrton Senna Official