Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost shared one of the fiercest rivalries that the sport of F1 has ever seen, a rivalry that made them a notch better than they ever could have expected to be, but a rivalry that adversely affected the ‘human side’ to both individuals.
Their altercations on and off the track made Formula 1 the spectacle that it was during the late 80’s and in a large way defined rivalries in sport, but looking back, Prost feels that the duo had put each other and their closed one’s in a perpetual state of anxiety, something that could have been avoided.
Prost’s retirement brought about an end to one of the most talked about stories in sport, affecting not only the fans , but Senna himself.
According to Prost, Senna’s motivation in Formula 1 was ‘being able to beat Alain Prost’. Prost was a target for Senna, one that he never wanted to lose sight of. Thus, when Prost retired, Senna was left searching for that one motivating factor, and winning another World Championship wasn’t it.
— Tom Clarkson (@TomClarksonF1) September 26, 2018
In the ‘Beyond the Grid’ podcast, Prost spoke about the rivalry with Senna and how Senna had started calling and speaking to him during the winter before his accident.
Prost initially spoke about how different the two drivers were and then went onto disclose details of how their relationship had changed after his retirement.
“We had a different culture, different education, different way of driving and different way to set up the car”
Q- Do you think after you retired you got to know Senna a bit better?
“Sure, because he started to talk
“He spoke about everything to me, he was calling me close to once or twice a week. We had long conversations and he wanted me to come back.
“He became a different person in the winter before his accident. He said to me that ‘I cannot be motivated by these guys on the circuit’
“His first motivation was to beat me. I was the target. He had to find a new goal, being a world champion one more time wasn’t quite enough.” he said.
“Prost also revealed the story about how despite having the power to veto Senna’s move to McLaren, he didn’t quite do it. Instead, he was the one that forced McLaren to get him on board.” he added.
When asked if they were ‘friends’, Prost quickly said that they shared an intimate relationship, sharing things from their professional and personal relationship.
“I don’t know if you can say [we were] friends. When we were on the podium in Adelaide , he changed completely the way he was with me. A few days later, he called me and it continued during the winter.
“I can call that being a friend, because when you talk about your professional life and personal life, your worries and your problems, I always said I know some things I will never share. I never told anyone. So I can say yes, in this way, he was a friend. But I never met him very often.” he said.
Another rather spooky story that has come out of the podcast is that Senna had called Prost on the day of that fatal accident. That was the day that he had formally asked Prost to return to racing. The duo also discussed about improving safety in F1, largely due to the Ratzenberger and Barichello.
“So they fought hard on track for years, became friends after Prost retires, and on the day Senna died he told Prost he misses racing him?
“F**k me sideways! That is some emotional shit right there.” a fan commented.
“There are lot of rumors that Senna felt like something bad would happen this weekend. He was in hospital after Rubens crashed, he was in medical car after Ratzenberger crash, crying. Yet he claimed he couldn’t stop racing, even though people said to him to retire.
But he indeed talked with Prost on the day he died. After crashes of Ratzenberger and Barichello, he and Prost talked about ways to improve safety of F1.” another fan commented.