This is a wonderful photo – as would be that taken by the photographer in the bushes! – of Ayrton Senna in his Lotus 99T-Honda entering the Swimming Pool section at the Monaco Grand Prix on May 31, 1987. Senna had qualified second to Nigel Mansell’s Williams-Honda with Nelson Piquet’s Williams-Honda third on the grid. Mansell retired at 30 laps and Senna would continue to the win with Piquet second and Michele Alboreto’s Ferrari coming home third. The Lotus and Williams Honda-powered cars were all-conquering in most races with an occasional showing by Alain Prost’s McLaren TAG-Porsche or Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari. At the end of the season Piquet was World Champion, but Senna would capture the crown the following year, then with McLaren which had acquired Honda power.
Senna’s total commitment was always the prime aspect of his driving and his success, leading to three World Championships. When he was “on,” no one could even come close, especially in wet conditions. He was almost unbeatable where precision was most important, such as at Monaco where he triumphed a record six times. His F1 career was also marked several times by controversy, often in hand with his total commitment to win at any cost.
Perhaps that commitment, when challenged by Michael Schumacher, a new and equally talented and committed driver, had a role 19 years ago at Imola when Senna crashed and became the last driver to be killed in a Grand Prix race.