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Ayrton Senna's three greatest drives at Monaco Grand Prix

Joshua Rogers May 27, 2022
Ayrton Senna's three greatest drives at Monaco Grand Prix
Photo by Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

With the Monaco Grand Prix taking place this weekend, we look back at legendary driver Ayrton Senna’s greatest drives around Monte Carlo.

The Monaco Grand Prix has long been the jewel in the crown of Formula One with the annual sojourn to the Principality attracting a crowd of A-listers.

But there is only one man who can truly lay claim to being the Master of Monaco – Ayrton Senna.

The Brazilian icon won six times around the streets of Monte Carlo, including five in a row for McLaren between 1989 and 1993. To this day, he is still the most successful driver at the Monaco GP.

Senna left an indelible mark on the sport, achieving the sort of record that even the most optimistic of drivers wouldn’t dream of.

As part of the Triple Crown of motor-racing (alongside the Indy 500 and 24 Hours of Le Mans), Monaco is the holy grail of individual race wins, and some of Senna’s drives around there are the stuff of legend.

Whether it was wet or dry, it didn’t matter. Senna was a phenom around the 3.3km of tarmac that snakes its way around the millionaire’s playground.

Here we relive some of Senna’s best moments at the Monaco GP.

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Monaco GP: 1984 – Slippery When Wet

When the 1984 season arrived at Monaco, Ayrton Senna’s F1 career was only five races old.

Yet few would go away from the iconic circuit not knowing the prodigious Brazilian’s name.

Despite being in a vastly inferior Toleman, Senna would come tantalisingly close to a maiden Monaco victory as he reeled in eventual winner – and future rival – Alain Prost before the race was red flagged 32 laps into the 76 lap event.

However, Senna had damaged his car’s suspension a few laps previously at the apex at the Nouvelle Chicance, and probably would not have have made it to the finish.

Having started 13th on the grid, Senna still made great inroads on a sodden circuit that heralded the arrival of F1’s newest stars.

In conditions so bad that commentators Murray Walker and James Hunt intermittently lost their TV feed to cover the race, Senna got better as the rain got worse.

Prost ultimately come away with the win, but it was Senna who became a star as he showcased the legendary wet-weather racing skills he would later become renowned for.

Monaco GP: 1988 – Domination

Senna himself could scarcely believe how in tune he was with his McLaren-Honda at the 1988 running, qualifying an eye-watering 1.427 seconds ahead of team-mate Alain Prost in second; Prost himself qualified 1.2 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Gerhard Berger

The Brazilian would say after the race that he was “in a different dimension” but despite dominating from first practice, his race would end in infamy.

After an error at Portier just eleven laps from the end and with more than 30 seconds over Prost, Senna was forced to retire, sending him into hiding for several hours.

It was a rare show that Senna was, in fact, human after all, but it would be one that would ultimately be remembered for his dominance for all but that unfortunate 66th lap.

Monaco GP: 1992 – Senna v Mansell

Prior to the 1992 race, Mansell was the man everyone wanted to beat. Five wins from five races for the Brit had him in control of the World Championship and he looked set to make it six from six when the F1 circus arrived in Monaco.

But there was to be one of the most dramatic battles to end a Grand Prix ever.

A problem with one of his wheels forced Mansell to pit from a commanding position out in front with seven laps remaining. The Williams drivers’ unplanned pit allowed Senna to take the lead on a set of worn tires, giving Mansell a big McLaren shaped target to hunt down.

Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Allsport/Getty Images

After clawing back more than three seconds in a few laps, going two seconds quicker than Senna in one lap, Senna and Mansell fought out the final four laps for the top step on the podium.

Senna would use every skill in his arsenal to stop Mansell from getting back in front, securing a famous fifth win and denying Mansell what looked like his first victory around the streets on Monte Carlo.

Who do you think will win the Monaco Grand Prix this weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

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Joshua is a senior sports writer with over four years' experience in online writing. He graduated with a BA in Ancient History from The University of Manchester before receiving an MA in Sports Journalism from The University of Central Lancashire. He became a trending writer for a leading social publisher and later spent time covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online. He then moved to a social marketing agency where he acted as website editor. His specialties on The Focus include F1, tennis, NBA, NFL and combat sports.