Mark Hughes recalled the lap in the June issue of last year, writing: ‘Ayrton Senna’s performance in qualifying at Monaco 1988, when he left as great a team-mate as Alain Prost reeling 1.4sec slower, has acquired mystical stature. Not least because of the mesmerising account Senna gave to Motor Sport’s Denis Jenkinson about it in an Autocourse interview two years later.
‘Qualifying the McLaren-Honda MP4/4 at Monaco ’88 represented Senna in extremis. He arrived into that weekend intent on not just beating Prost, the accepted standard-bearer until Senna had arrived at McLaren as his team-mate earlier in the year to redefine the goal posts, but on humiliating him. It was an approach that backfired in the race, as he famously crashed out from a massive lead. But the margin of his pace advantage over then triple Monaco winner Prost was quite astonishing, and was first evident in Thursday running when Senna topped the timesheets at 1min 26.464sec against Prost’s second-fastest 1min 28.375sec. But Prost was renowned for not pushing until it was needed, of only putting all the pieces of a lap together when it counted. Saturday would surely be when the true picture would emerge. Amazingly, Senna’s margin in second qualifying was even bigger.’