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Ex McLaren Mastermind Exposes Alain Prost’s Dark Arts Deployed to ‘Annoy’ Ayrton Senna in Order to Gain an Advantage

Published 06/07/2023, 11:00 AM EDT

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In the modern era, we hardly come across intense rivalries between teammates. The last and most notable came about during Nico Rosberg’s time at Mercedes when he was paired with Lewis Hamilton. Before that, there have been a few, however, none come close to the one between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost. The two world champions traded punches and championships during their time in the premier class. The two were ardent rivals and showcased it on and off the track. However, the two were racing well before our time and we hardly get evidence of their rivalry, until now.

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In this article, we would like to talk about an incident from the 1988 Portuguese GP. Prost was always the calculated one among the two McLaren teammates. The Frenchman always focused his attention on the races, but in the race in Portugal in 88, he was untouchable in qualifying as well. This scenario made Prost play mind games with Senna just to provoke the Brazilian.

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McLaren’s mastermind revealed this scenario back in the day. Neil Oatley, during a conversation on the F1 Nation podcast. The host Tom Clarkson asked, “Did want to ask you about Portugal 88 where he (Alain Prost) was mighty in qualifying, and tell me if I’m wrong, but I think he got changed into his jeans mid-qualifying and then stood on the pit wall just to annoy Senna. Is that true?”


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To this, Oatley replied: “That’s absolutely true, yeah! He was certainly quick. Literally half an hour into the session he went off the track, got changed into his civis, and just lent onto the pit wall looking into Ayrton’s garage.”

Rivalries Like Ayrton Senna and Mine Won’t Be Seen Again – Alain Prost Reflects Back

Despite the antics, there was a lot of respect between the two, and Senna’s final radio message for Prost is proof of that. In fact, the Frenchman believes the rivalry is what made the Brazilian a great driver.

Alain Prost takes credit for the greatness of Ayrton Senna


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The two drivers definitely pushed each other on every step of their careers. Some would say it was an important aspect for the two to get the best out of each other. Forget some, even Prost likes to believe without him there would no Senna.

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“There was so much communication with Ayrton the day after my retirement. I felt that he was not well. He called me often. Sometimes twice a week. He never called me as long as I was still in the race. He had, without me, lost his bearings. I was undoubtedly his source of motivation. We both lived an incredible human and psychological story. We have to stay on the beautiful memories,” said Prost.


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WATCH THIS STORY: $300,000 McLaren Legacy Dedicated to Ayrton Senna Craned into $39,000,000 Penthouse

The two drivers definitely were a class apart, and it showed. These conversations between the two also showcase they were only human and a friend in need, even if he’s been your rival all your career, is a friend indeed!

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Written by:

Mahim Suhalka


One take at a time

Mahim Suhalka is a senior F1 Author at EssentiallySports. Having written over 1000 articles, Mahim specializes in core sports coverage. Having followed the sport for a long time, his articles contain excellent analysis of the sport and he dives deeper into the technicalities of this complex sport.
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Edited by:

Akash Pandhare