F1 in 1993: watch Senna's greatest ever opening lap

Published: 11 April 2018

► 25 years to the day
► Senna demonstrates his ability in the rain
► Watch it here

Today marks 25 years since one of the greatest opening laps in F1’s history – and we reckon that’s a great excuse to relive one of Ayrton Senna’s most staggering performances. 

‘A race that will live in my memory forever,’ said eminently enthusiastic voice-of-F1 Murray Walker describing the misty, rain-soaked Donington Park GP circuit duel in April 1993.

The line-up of driver talent on the grid was formidable. Senna qualified fifth and actually dropped to sixth very briefly before the first corner, Redgate, blocked by a certain Michael Schumacher, whom Ayrton dispatched on the exit of that long first bend.

Next in the firing line was Karl Wendlinger’s Sauber, who Senna somehow managed to pass on the outside of the formidable Craner Curves. It’s one of the great overtakes of our time.

Firing out of Old Hairpin in third, Senna negotiated McLeans right under the gearbox of Damon Hill in the evocative Camel-liveried Williams and passed him on the next corner, Coppice. With only Alain Prost to beat for the top step of the podium, the Brazilian wet-weather wizard out-braked the Frenchman into the Melbourne hairpin, finishing the lap – and the rest of the race – in first position.

The ace himself didn’t seem all that impressed with his performance, though. ‘People later said that my win in the wet at Donington in ’93 was my greatest performance,’ he said. ‘No way! I had traction control OK, I didn’t make any real mistakes, but the car was so much easier to drive. It was a good win, sure, but compared with Estoril ’85 it was nothing, really.’

Nothing! Really?

By Gareth Evans

Contributor, historic racer and now running sister title Motor Cycle News's website