McLaren release incredible Ayrton Senna data from iconic 1988 Monaco Grand Prix

Oliver Harden
Ayrton Senna sits in the cockpit of his McLaren MP4/4 in the garage at the 1988 San Marino Grand Prix

Ayrton Senna sits in the cockpit of his McLaren MP4/4 in the garage at the 1988 San Marino Grand Prix

McLaren have released rare data from Ayrton Senna’s 1988 Monaco Grand Prix on the 30th anniversary of the famous race at the principality.

May 1 marked 30 years since the death of Senna, widely regarded as one of the greatest drivers in F1 history, with the next two race weekends certain to be particularly poignant for the sport.

McLaren publish Ayrton Senna’s 1988 Monaco Grand Prix data

This weekend will see F1 race at Imola, the scene of the Brazilian icon’s fatal crash in 1994, before the F1 2024 season moves to Monaco, an event Senna won on no fewer than six occasions over the course of his glittering career.

Senna produced arguably his greatest-ever performance at the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, where he qualified 1.427 seconds ahead of McLaren team-mate Alain Prost and later likened his qualifying lap to an out-of-body experience.

Despite leading Prost by almost a minute in the closing stages of the race the following day, Senna crashed at Portier corner with just 11 laps remaining.

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Senna, who famously retired to his apartment after the accident, would recover to clinch the first of his three World Championships at the end of the 1988 season.

And he would never lose in Monaco again, winning the race five times in a row from 1989.

To mark the 36th anniversary of the race, McLaren have published the original handwritten timesheet of Senna’s race, which documents his laptimes and contains such intricate setup details as roll bar, damper and camber settings as well as gear ratios.

The entry for Lap 67 is just three words long: “Crashed at Portier.”

Senna – who finished no lower than second in the following eight races, winning six, to establish control of the title race – would later describe the Monaco race as “the turning point” in the 1988 World Championship, claiming the mistake opened the door for him to take “the biggest step” of his career.

He is quoted in the acclaimed biography ‘The Life of Senna’ as saying: “Monaco was the turning point in the championship.

“The mistake I made woke me up psychologically and mentally and I changed a lot after that.

“It gave me the strength, the power and the cool mind to fight in critical situations. That was when I took the biggest step in my career as a racing driver, as a professional and as a man.

“I have to say that it brought me closer to God than I’ve ever been and that has changed my life completely.

“I am a better human being now than I was before. I am better in everything I am and everything I do.

“The accident was not just a driving mistake.

“It was the consequence of a struggle inside me, which paralysed me and made me vulnerable.

“I had an opening to God and another to the devil. The accident was a signal that God was there, waiting to give me a hand. I just had to tell him what I wanted.”

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