Senna in turn had made beating Alain Prost his life’s priority – via superior speed and by whatever else he deemed necessary.
There have been gentler – albeit rare – examples of this process.
Felipe Massa’s relationship with Schumacher was more teacher/pupil than those that had gone before.
Stirling Moss sat attentively in Juan Fangio’s wheel tracks at Mercedes-Benz by way of a tacit yet explicit master class which, when combined with an ability to pull away at will, coalesced Moss’s lifelong conviction that there has been no one better than the Argentinean.
François Cevert was schooled – not in the pejorative sense – by a selfless Jackie Stewart seeking to assure Tyrrell’s hegemony beyond 1973; he was being handed the keys to the timber yard – its only secret kept from him being his tutor’s imminent retirement. The handsome Frenchman’s death in practice for what would have been Stewart’s 100th and last Grand Prix is perhaps F1’s cruellest twist.
And Jim Clark would in all innocent wonder query why everyone else was going so slowly. Stewart wisely resisted offers to join his compatriot and friend at Lotus in 1965 and instead signed for steadier, more conservative BRM for his rookie season.
Playing second fiddle to Clark was a thankless and dangerous task, the team unable to provide a car strong enough for those not blessed with Clark’s gossamer touch. Trevor Taylor, a match for Clark in their Formula Junior days, suffered and somehow survived sufficient terrifying crashes in F1 Lotus to grind even his Yorkshire grit; unassuming Mike Spence went about his business perhaps too quietly and was overlooked as a result; and Formula Junior king Peter Arundell, adamant that he could beat Clark given equal equipment, made a promising start before injury robbed his chance and reportedly left him somewhat bitter.
Stewart’s maiden F1 campaign was a triumph – ‘Grandpa’ Graham Hill proving an excellent teacher in many ways without revealing the entire contents of his fastidiously kept ‘little black books’.
Only Hamilton has bettered Stewart’s opening salvo – his performance in 2007 remarkable even before factoring his internecine punch-for-punch battle with Fernando Alonso, at that time reckoned the best by most counts.