Estoril 1985

Ayrton Senna’s first Grand Prix victory, in the rain in his second season, at Estoril, Portugal (video commentated by a rather awe-struck Sir Jackie Stewart).

The maturity of Ayrton Senna’s driving is very impressive to me. I can’t take my hat off high enough for him. He’s going to be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

— Jackie Stewart —

Portuguese Grand Prix 1985
Estoril — 21 April 1985
Ayrton Senna scored his maiden Grand Prix victory in the most dominant of style in weather so bad it had caused a driver of Alain Prost’s sublime ability to crash — but weather in which, throughout his career, Senna was time and time again to put the crowning touch on his stature as the greatest driver Photoof his era. In the torrential rains that hit Estoril in April 1985, Senna’s effortless progress through the pack, as his rivals slithered and crashed behind his gleaming black Lotus — with that soon-to-be famous fluorescent yellow helmet visible even through the clouds of spray — seemed guided around the track as if by an invisible hand. Senna was on pole after one example of what would become his trademark: a blinding qualifying lap, all drama and breathtaking beauty. After holding first place at the start, he pulled out a lead that soon became impregnable, finishing more than a minute ahead of Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari and lapping the entire balance of the field. Portugal was a sign of things to come in Formula One. Senna led more laps than anyone else in 1985, but he only won once more, as the Lotus-Renault was a mere shadow of the great Team Lotus machines of the 1960s and 70s. It would not be Senna’s season, but other years would of course be different. Classifications.


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