1993 European Grand Prix
- Sunday, April 11, 1993
- Sega European Grand Prix
- F1 World Championship
There have been some opportunist moves in Formula One over the years – Jacky Ickx passing Niki Lauda round the outside at Paddock Bend in the 1974 Race of Champions, or Nigel Mansell diving past Ayrton Senna up the hill in Hungary in 1989 – spring immediately to mind but few have equalled the audacity shown by Ayrton Senna in the opening lap of the Grand Prix of Europe.
“There is no long straight here and passing is difficult. Because of this there may be some controversy on overtaking,” he had said the previous day, as he faced a start from fourth position, nearly two seconds adrift of the Williams-Renaults on the front row and a shade slower than Michael Schumacher’s Benetton. The cynics among us had taken note as no doubt Senna’s rivals were meant to and we interpreted that to mean ‘Move over, because I’m coming through whether you do or not’. We expected the worst.
Instead, the former World Champion treated us all to a virtuoso performance throughout 76 of the most tortuous racing laps seen in the post-war era. Tom Wheatcroft’s long-awaited Grand Prix began with a wet track, but even as the start lights blinked green the rain had all but ceased. The racing line would dry, then it would rain again, it would dry, it would rain, it would dry. In the end it rained again, to create the sort of pit stop nightmare rarely seen in F1. Truly, this was not one for the faint hearted.
Castle Donington, Leicestershire
Permanent road course
Ayrton Senna (McLaren MP4/8-Ford), 1m18.029, 115.331 mph, F1, 1993 (set on a lap through the pitlane)
First Race1933 Donington Park Trophy