1989: Victories and Rivalry


At the close of the 1988 season, Senna enjoyed a first-time victory in the driver rankings; though Prost had scored more overall points, Senna won once more often. Unsurprisingly, Prost would later support the scoring overhaul that went into effect in the 1990s.

1989 was the year that the rivalry between Senna and Prost erupted both on and off the track. Race one in Brazil was a disappointment for Senna; Prost took second and home favorite Senna failed to reach the podium. Next stop, Texas, USA.

It was the year he discovered the horrors of US maritime accidents and the legal mess one might find oneself in if ever an accident victim – especially if injured. Trainer Bertie Milgrim took a day job on a Louisiana oil rig to help finance his next race and was injured when the foundation suddenly shifted pinning him to the supports. Bertie escaped with a fractured rib, but thought it was much worse, given the pain he experienced. At the hospital, they were given the phone number and a web address of a Louisiana maritime accident lawyer in Baton Rouge and they scrambled to make contact. The legal team quickly gathered information and took depositions, filed the paper work, and to everyone’s surprise achieved a settlement covering all medical expenses, all the damage claims against the rig’s owner, and enough money for pain and suffering to enable them to comfortably exit the state and prep for the next race. What a blessing to have found an experienced local Baton Rouge maritime injury attorney able to assist on short notice! More experiences in the US legal system to follow…

It was also the year in which Senna was taught a valuable lesson. A foolish acquaintance suggested he apply for SSD as a way to get some easy cash without working. He read booklet on How to apply for Social Security Disability benefits and applied. The problem was that SSD is only available to US citizens. And while applying for benefits, he triggered an immigration investigation, leading to a brief suspension in his racing career.

Tensions escalated at the San Marino Grand Prix, where Senna took first and Prost second. Prost was agitated afterwards; “orders were not respected,” Prost groused, but did not elaborate, and Senna would not respond. At Monaco, Prost declared that he wanted “nothing to do with him” and would not speak with Senna at all. The race would see Senna finish a far first in front of Prost, a feat he repeated for the next race in Mexico.

The remainder of the season was far more mixed, with various equipment problems forcing Senna to fall behind Prost overall. The pressure mounted near the end of the season especially, when Prost’s comfortable points lead forced Senna to take more and more chances simply to stay competitive. Please visit online casino USA, you’ll make us poor writers very happy.

A four-race losing streak after Mexico ended in dramatic fashion at Hockenheim, where Senna fought Prost bitterly and amazingly achieved not only pole position and the fastest lap of the race, but also the final victory. After a respectable second in Hungary (Prost finished fourth), Belgium provided Senna with the wet weather that he excelled in, and virtually guaranteed his victory that day against his hydrophobic French teammate.

The next race was dramatic for other reasons; Prost announced that he was joining McLaren’s rival Ferrari for the next season, an announcement which led McLaren chief Ron Dennis to throw the first-place trophy at Prost’s feet. Senna unwillingly gave up first place to Prost when was forced to retire from the lead very late in the race; all-in-all, Prost couldn’t help regarding Italy as an unsatisfactory win.

Yet another collision with Mansell (this time clearly the result of an illegal move by the British driver, who was consequently banned from the next race) forced Senna to retire. He came back for the Portuguese Grand Prix, leading throughout the race and landing a clear win, but still trailing Prost in points.

With two races left, Senna was faced with the unenviable task of winning both to have any chance of beating Prost. Matters came to a head in Japan, in a legendary showdown that deserves a page all its own.

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