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Ayrton Senna and Gilles Villeneuve
Great Races
Senna Biography
Villeneuve Biography
Great Races

I've chosen 5 races each for Ayrton and Gilles, for what I think are their greatest races. You may have other faves!


1985 Portuguese Grand Prix

Senna qualified the Lotus on pole position, with Prost and De Angelis right behind him.

The race was declared wet by the organisers, and at the green light, Senna jumped into an immediate lead. Rosberg was among the first to crash, along with Lauda, and sensationally on lap 30, Prost. Senna simply drove impassively on, sweeping all comers. At one point, Ayrton himself made a mistake, and the Lotus slid off the track, but somehow the car came back to the track and Ayrton continued on, lapping everyone up to Alboreto, who finished second, more than a minute behind.

1st Ayrton Senna BRA Lotus Renault

2nd Michele Alboreto ITA Ferrari 62 seconds behind

3rd Patrick Tambay FRA  Renault 1 lap down

4th Elio De Angelis ITA Lotus Renault 1 lap down

5th Nigel Mansell GBR Wiliams Honda 1 lap down

6th Stefan Bellof GER Tyrrell Ford 2 laps down


1988 Japanese Grand Prix
Senna led the world championship as the teams arrived in Japan. One more win would clinch his first world championship, and he started well, winning pole position. However on race day, he nearly blew it.
Ayrton stalled getting away from the line and dropped to 14th place. Prost took the lead from the 2 Ferraris. Ayrton as up against it, but set to work passing the slower naturally aspirated cars with ease, until he got into the Lotuses and Bennettons. By lap 30, Ayrton was up to third and got past Capelli's March as Capelli ran into problems. Just up the road was Prost in the other Mclaren and Ayrton was gaining fast. Senna passed Prost as Prost got boxed in with traffic, and pulled away to win the race and the world championship.
1st Ayrton Senna BRA Mclaren Honda
2nd Alain Prost FRA Mclaren Honda 13 seconds behind
3rd Thierry Boutsen BEL Bennetton Ford 36 seconds behind
4th Gerhard Berger AUT Ferrari 86 seconds behind
5th Alessandro Nannini ITA Bennetton Ford 90 seconds behind
6th Riccardo Patrese ITA Williams Judd 97 seconds behind
1991 Brazilian Grand Prix
The Mclaren MP4/6 was powerful but Senna found it tricky to drive, and felt the Honda V12 engine wasn't as competitive as it should be. However, he qualified on pole ahead of Mansell and Patrese in the active suspension Williams Renaults. Ayrton had never won his home race before and after winning the first race of the season, the crowd was hoping for more of the same.
Senna got away well from Mansell, but he soon ran into gearbox trouble and was finding 4th hard to change in to. He had managed to open a gap to Mansell but with the jumpy 4th gear, Mansell was soon closing in, until he retired with his own gearbox faliure. Rain was now falling in places and Senna had lost all gears but 6th. Patrese in the other Williams was closing in fast as Ayrton struggled to the finish.
Ayrton found ust enough to beat Patrese by 3 seconds to win his first Brazilian race. After the race he had cramp in his arms and neck but it was a well deserved win.
1st Ayrton Senna BRA Mclaren Honda
2nd Riccardo Patrese ITA Williams Renault 3 seconds behind
3rd Gerhard Berger AUT Mclaren Honda 5 seconds behind
4th Alain Prost FRA Ferrari 19 seconds behind
5th Nelson Piquet BRA Bennetton Ford 22 seconds behind
6th Jean Alesi FRA Ferrari 24 seconds behind


1992 Monaco Grand Prix
Mansell had dominated the first five races of the season and Senna had only 11 points to show for his efforts so far. The new Mclaren was hard to set up, unrelieable and prone to understeer. The Monaco race looked a foregone conclusion as Mansell toke pole and disappeared off into the distance, with Senna second and Patrese third. Senna had settled for second place, until on lap 68 of 78, Mansell made an unplanned pit stop. Senna leapt at the chance and went into the lead as Mansell came out of the pitlane. While Mansell's tyres warmed up, Senna built a small gap, then with Mansell up to speed, Senna had to survive for 5 laps with Mansell crawling all over the gearbox of the Mclaren.
Mansell ducked and dived looking for a way past but Senna stuck to the racing line and backed off on the straights to make Mansell do the same. Senna just held off Mansell to take the closest Monaco finish ever and his 5th Monaco win.
1st Ayrton Senna BRA Mclaren Honda
2nd Nigel Mansell GBR Williams Renault 0.215 behind
3rd Riccardo Patrese ITA Williams Renault 32 seconds behind
4th Michael Schumacher GER Bennetton Ford 39 seconds behind
5th Martin Brundle GBR Bennetton Ford 1 lap behind
6th Betrand Gachot BEL Venturi Larrousse Lamborghini 1 lap behind

1993 European Grand Prix
Prost was back on form at Donington after spinning off in the wet in Brazil, taking pole from Hill. Senna, who had taken a canny win in Brazil a few weeks before was back in fourth. Race day dawned with torrential rain swamping the circuit. At the green light, Prost and Hill left the line together, but Schumacher blocked Senna forcing Senna to back off and dropping him to 5th. Then Ayrton pulled off one of the most incredible laps of all time. Going down the Carner Curves, he passed Schumacher around the outside! He then got past Wendlinger at the next corner, shortly before Andretti bundled Wendlinger off permanently.
Ayrton nipped inside Hill at Coppice and took after Prost, who was leading. He outbraked him at the Melbourne hairpin and in 1 lap he had gone from 5th, to 1st. Senna mastered the changing conditions, while Prost went completely to pieces, stopping 7 times for new tyres! Senna managed with just three stops and lapped everyone on the way to his most well known victory.
1st Ayrton Senna BRA Mclaren Ford
2nd Damon Hill GBR Williams Renault 1 lap behind
3rd Alain Prost FRA Wiliams Renault 1 lap behind
4th Johnny Herbert GBR Lotus Ford 1 lap behind
5th Riccardo Patrese ITA Bennetton Ford 2 laps behind
6th Michael Schumacher GER Bennetton Ford 2 laps behind



1978 Canadian Grand Prix

It was a cold blustery day at the new Il de Notre Dame circuit in Montreal. The Canadian Grand Prix was about to start, with Jean Pierre Jarier, Ronnie Petersen's replacement at Lotus on pole, with Carlos Reutermann in second place. Gilles was third on the grid, and the crowd were hoping their hero would have a good race, having impressed for most of the season.

Jarier jumped into the lead at the start with Jones in the Williams moving into second. Jarier quickly built up a big lead, while Scheckter, Hunt and Villeneuve managed to pass the Williams on consecutive laps. Giles then outbraked Scheckter and took second, but victory seemed a long shot as Jarier was half a minute up the road. Gilles pressed on trying to catch the flying Lotus.

Jarier then started to have problems with his brakes and he dropped out, leaving Villeneuve in the lead, but Gilles ran into car problems with about 6 laps left. He just managed to hold off Scheckter to win his first grand prix, and the crowd went into mass hysteria as Gilles took the winner's trophy.

1st Gilles Villeneuve CDN Ferrari

2nd Jody Scheckter ZA Wolf Ford 4 seconds behind

3rd Carlos Reutermann ARG Ferrari 14 seconds behind

4th Riccardo Patrese ITA Arrows Ford 23 seconds behind 

5th Patrick Depailler FRA Tyrrell Ford 27 seconds behind

6th James Hunt GBR Mclaren Ford 37 seconds behind



1979 French Grand Prix
The two turbo Renaults of Jabouille and Arnoux lined up on the front row, but at the starts, Villeneuve, Jones and Scheckter blasted past. Gilles built up a lead as Scheckter and Jones were passed by the more powerful French cars in the early laps.
By half distance, Jabouille was ins triking distance of the leading Ferrari, and Gilles had worn his tyres badly. Jabouille passed Gilles on the start/finish straight and pulled away into the distance, while Arnoux came up behind Gilles hoping to make it a French 1-2 in their home race.
Arnoux passed Villeneuve on lap 76 of 80, but hadn't bargained on Gilles fighting back as hard as he did. The Ferrari got ahead of the Renault on the next lap, and held the position until lap 78, when Arnoux again outbraked Gilles. The 2 cars rubbed wheels and Arnoux somehow got ahead. Coming  into lap 79, Giles locked his brakes up and slithered past the Renault at the first corner before Arnoux tried again to pass on the last lap. The two cars banged wheels all the way around the first and second corners, the Renault slightly ahead before Arnoux went wide and Gilles leapt in front to stay in second place and finish there.
It was one of the few races where no-one remembered who won!
1st Jean-Pierre Jabouille FRA Renault
2nd Gilles Villeneuve CDN Ferrari 12 seconds behind
3rd Rene Arnoux FRA Renault 12.105 seconds behind
4th Alan Jones AUS Williams Ford 28 seconds behind
5th Jean-Pierre Jarier FRA Tyrrell Ford 36 seconds behind
6th Clay Regazzoni SWI Williams Ford 65 seconds behind
1979 USA Grand Prix East
Watkins Glen in upstate New York was a fast, flowing track that challenged drivers-all th more when it was wet, and in '79 it was, very. Gilles went out to do some exploratory laps and ended up quickest of all-11 seconds faster than his teammate Scheckter in the same car! Not surprisingly, Gilles got pole position.
On race day, the rain was coming down as hard as ever, and as the field set off, Villeneuve on his Michelin tyres more suited to the wet weather had a big advantage. The circuit then started to dry and Jones in the Williams came through to challenge. Jones passed Gilles, only for the Ferrari man to immediately re-pass. The two fought for every inch in the slipery conditions, then the rain became heavier again, and Jones went in for new tyres. As he came back onto the track, the Williams lost it's right front wheel, leaving Gilles to cruise to the flag a worthy winner.
1st Gilles Villeneuve CDN Ferrari
2nd Rene Arnoux FRA Renault 53 seconds behind
3rd Didier Pironi FRA Tyrrell Ford 1 lap behind
4th Elio de Angelis ITA Shadow Ford 1 lap behind
5th Hans-Joachim Stuck GER ATS 1 lap behind
6th John Watson GBR Mclaren Ford 2 laps behind


1981 Monaco Grand Prix
For 2 years, highly efficient ground effect cars had ruled the roost and Ferrari hadn't been able to compete. The leaders, Williams, Brabham, Ligier and Renault had a big advantage over the Italian giant, and it wasn't helped by the fact that Ferrari had for 2 years, built cars which weren't especially good. In 1981, Ferrari had built a turbo engine, which was powerful and reliable, but had designed a car which was ugly, had terrible handling, ate it's tyres and wasn't up to fighting with the ground effect car pioneers. Villeneuve muscled the car to second on the grid at Monaco, behind Piquet on pole and Jones just behind. At the start, Jones got the jump on Gilles and hustled Piquet hard for 30 laps until Piquet dumped the Brabham into the wall. 
Jones took the lead, surely heading for victory. Gilles had settled for second until with 10 laps to go, Jones pulled into the pits with fuel pressure problems. The team sent him out hoping they'd ficed the problems, but Jones was still struggling, and Villeneuve was gaining fast. With 2 laps left, Gilles nipped inside Alan at Saint de Vote and pulled away as Jones spluttered to the line, well behind the delighted Canadian.
1st Gilles Villeneuve CDN Ferrari
2nd Alan Jones AUS Williams Ford 40 seconds behind
3rd Jacques Laffite FRA  Talbot Ligier Matra 46 seconds behind
4th Didier Pironi FRA Ferrari 1 lap behind
5th Eddie Cheever USA Tyrrell Ford 2 laps behind
6th Rene Arnoux FRA Renault 2 laps behind
1981 Spanish Grand Prix
It was one of the hottest races on record, with the mercury reaching 100 degrees farenheit. Jacques Laffite was on pole with Gilles down in 7th place. At the green light, Gilles made a fantastic start and was third going into the first corner. At the end of the first lap, he outbraked Reutermann for second place, but Jones was some way ahead, until Jones made a mistake and went off.
Gilles now lead from Reutermann, Laffite, Watson and De Angelis. Reutermann dropped behind Watson but Laffite was behind for 63 laps and made every attempt to get past. Jarama had so many corners that overtaking was impossible unless you barged your way past, and the turbo engine in the Ferrari made it too fast down the straight to keep up with. Somehow, Gilles dealt with the pressure and the baking sun to win by .200s of a second, and just 1.2 seconds covered the first 4 drivers home!
1st Gilles Villeneuve CDN Ferrari
2nd Jacques Laffite FRA Talbot Ligier Matra 0.218 behind
3rd John Watson GBR Mclaren Ford 0.543 behind
4th Carlos Reutermann ARG Williams Ford 0.836 behind
5th Elio De Angelis ITA Lotus Ford 1 second behind
6th Nigel Mansell GBR Lotus Ford 16 seconds behind