Sir, How time distorts the memory. In an otherwise excellent article on the Monaco Toleman in the November issue it was stated that Ayrton Senna overtook Alain Prost to take the lead before clerk of the course Jacky Ickx red-flagged the race. This was not the case.
Before Senna overtook Prost the race had already been red-flagged. Prost had almost come to a halt beside the marshal with the flag situated at the pitlane exit when Senna drove by. Was there also a red flag being shown on the start-and finish line? In any event, racing had ceased before Senna overtook.
Also you pose the question could Senna have maintained the lead? I think this unlikely for two reasons. While Senna’s performance that day was superb it should not be forgotten that Stefan Bellof was catching both he and Prost hand over fist after starting last on the grid. Further, in his excellent biography of Ken Tyrrell, Maurice Hamilton states that John Walton, Senna’s mechanic at the time, told Bellof’s mechanic Nigel Steer that Senna would not have lasted more than a few laps as he had damaged his suspension when clouting the chicane. As for Prost. he was in trouble with grabbing brakes caused by uneven heat build-up in his carbon discs. His best lap was only the seventh-fastest of the day and had been set as early as lap 19. He would surely have succumbed.
So, a more likely outcome then would have Bellof winning with Senna and Prost fading. But even that would not have been the end of it. The Tyrrell team was later disqualified from the season. So who then would have won? Pick anyone from the remaining runners. The day was a lottery like no other.
Steve Gray. Worcester
Steve, your accuracy is impressive. But I can’t see Senna and Bellof sharing the same piece of road without colliding. Ed