“At the time, [team boss] Ron [Dennis] had to be robbing banks – getting more and more sponsors and so on,” he remembers. “We were paying a million dollars per race!
“Ron was such a competitive guy though, for the sake of having the best he would do anything.”
Low expectations for Interlagos
With Senna eventually onboard, the opening round of 1993 at Kyalami was somewhat a microcosm of the season. The Brazilian leapfrogged polesitter Prost from second, but eventually fell back into the clutches of the faster Williams and had to settle for second.
Despite the obvious potential shown, Senna still wasn’t convinced. Ramirez remembers the tension rising at Interlagos as the team waited for its disgruntled star arrive.
“We still didn’t know if he was going to show up,” he says. “Eventually he came into the paddock and did qualifying. He finished third behind the Williams, but with Michael Schumacher in the Benetton behind – with the works engine – it wasn’t easy.”
Come race day, Senna again showed full commitment by rocketing into second place, but was hampered by a stop-go penalty on lap 25 for passing a backmarker under yellow flags.
From there he began one of his great fightbacks. As if things couldn’t get any more dramatic, the heavens then opened with a tropical downpour engulfing the circuit.