When ‘deranged’ Eddie Irvine was punched by Ayrton Senna

Oliver Harden
Ayrton Senna in complete control as he drives to victory for McLaren at the European Grand Prix. Donington Park, 1993.

Ayrton Senna in complete control as he drives to victory for McLaren at the European Grand Prix. Donington Park, 1993.

Legendary Formula 1 team owner Eddie Jordan has revealed the full story behind Ayrton Senna’s infamous altercation with Eddie Irvine at the 1993 Japanese Grand Prix.

Three-time World Champion Senna secured the penultimate victory of his F1 career in the wet at Suzuka in 1993, but the McLaren driver was unimpressed after Eddie Irvine – making his grand prix debut for Jordan – unlapped himself.

Irvine scored a point for sixth place before being at the centre of post-race storm in which Senna struck him with a punch.

Appearing on the Formula For Success podcast with former McLaren and Red Bull driver David Coulthard, Jordan has revealed that Senna was egged on that afternoon by team-mate Gerhard Berger.

Put to him that Irvine was among the funniest characters he had encountered in F1, he said: “He was deranged, wasn’t he?! I mean, you couldn’t call him a normal person.

“But there was a situation in Japan when he did his first ever grand prix.

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After the race – I think you’ll find Senna won the World Championship there – Karl Heinz who ran the motorhome for Bernie [Ecclestone, F1 chief executive] and most people congregated around this and Karl Heinz did the hospitality but he was a great man for his Schnapps.

“Gerhard Berger, being a fellow Austrian, was just not of this planet in terms of mindset. He was just completely crazy.

“And immediately after the race, he’d be setting into shots of this Schnapps and because he’d won the World Championship he got Ayrton on it and they were team-mates at McLaren, I think, at the time.

“And Gerhard – just looking for aggravation, which is second nature to him – kept saying to Ayrton: ‘You need to go down and see that Irvine f**ker who’s only in his first-ever grand prix and he dared to unlap himself and he passed you for sixth place in his first-ever grand prix.

“‘I wouldn’t be putting up with that, you need to go and teach them a lesson’ – this is Gerhard pushing him.

“Next thing is, Ayrton comes down into the Jordan garage and he started talking to Irvine and Irvine totally ignores him.

“[He] knows exactly who he is.

“He’s doing an interview with someone and was not prepared to be disturbed.

“And Ayrton was getting ratty about this guy – ‘does he not realise who I am?’ sort of thing – and he just lashed out and gave him a smack.

“It was the biggest publicity Irvine ever got in his life, [to] get punched in the Japanese Grand Prix – in his first ever grand prix – by Ayrton Senna.”