Before the heated rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna started, it was the Frenchman who called for Senna’s appointment at McLaren.
The Senna-Prost rivalry is arguably the most heated in the sport’s history. The two engaged in fiery on and off track battles during their years together at McLaren. But who would have thought that Prost himself requested team boss Ron Dennis to sign Senna in 1986?
In a podcast with 2016 World Champion Nico Rosberg, Prost shed light on the arrival of Senna into the team. It was a question which Rosberg asked the four-time World Champion, as he too was befuddled that Prost would call for Senna as his teammate.
“1987 you’re at McLaren and they want to take (Nelson) Piquet,” Rosberg said. “And you’re like no no no, take Ayrton. You say ‘because it’s better for the general interest of the team’. What are you? Like a charitable foundation?!”
“Imagine Lewis Hamilton getting asked from Toto today. ‘Do you want Raikkonen or Verstappen as your teammate for next year?’ I can tell you, he’s not going to say Verstappen!” Rosberg added.
Prost admitted that his decision was based on his naivety but also insists that he has no regrets over what he decided.
Ayrton Senna was the future of F1 at that time, says Alain Prost
Prost revealed how he considered McLaren his family back in 1986/87. He was close to Dennis and engaged in discussions regarding the team’s future with it’s management. He talks about the exact moment he told the McLaren and Honda hierarchy that he wanted Senna at the team.
“We were in Japan and we had very long meetings till 3 o’clock in the room with the Japanese people (at Honda),” Prost recalls. “I remember very well being in the room with the Japanese and we’re talking about Nelson. I said okay, because I was a friend, a very good friend of Nelson’s.”
Senna ⚔️ Prost
One of several classic #F1 rivalries that reached boiling point, and more!
Find out where it features in our compilation 🎥
— Formula 1 (@F1) January 30, 2022
“And I said, why Nelson? Because the new generation, the future is Ayrton. They all look at me and the Japanese were very surprised. I could of course say no, it was on my contract.”
“I think it was best for the team,” the 67-year old continued. “I was only looking out for the best of the team. I don’t regret it. At the time when you make decision like this, you do it for a good reason.
Senna’s arrival at the team kickstarted the famous rivalry which ultimately led to Prost falling out with McLaren and leaving the team.