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Senna's Immortal Race - Estoril GP 1985

Written by Stefan Banić, Edited by Mara Simion

Image Credits - Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

Ayrton Senna's first and immortal victory took place on April 21, 1985 at the Estoril Grand Prix, at the same place where he lost the karting category title a few years earlier. The Brazilian won from pole position at the second round of the 1985 FIA Formula One World Championship, earning both his first pole position and victory in the process. Senna proved his expertise in wet racing by winning the race by at least one lap over all other drivers, with the exception of Michele Alboreto, who took second.

After thrilling qualifying, Senna took pole ahead of Alain Prost and Keke Rosberg, the only two drivers to come within one second of Senna's fastest time, who set his fastest lap in just 1:21.007.


After the start of the race, the first driver to retire was Jonathan Palmer, who was able to get his Zakspeed into the garage due to suspension issues. Early in the race, spinouts were common due to the wet conditions. By the third lap, both Philippe Alliot, due to a spin, and François Hesnault, owing to electrical issues, were forced to retire trackside. On the fourth lap, Riccardo Patrese attempted to pass Stefan Johansson on the inside line but collided with him. The incident caused both cars, which were positioned 10th and 11th at the time, to spin out and land in a gravel pit. Patrese was beached, and Johansson was eventually able to reenter the race despite losing ground. Soon later, Manfred Winkelhock and Stefan Bellof collided on the racetrack. Fortunately, both drivers were able to restart their vehicles and continue racing.


By lap ten, Ayrton Senna had gained over 13 seconds on second place. Alain Prost, Elio de Angelis, and Michele Alboreto were all fighting for second place, and Derek Warwick was in fifth place 15 seconds behind them. On the twelfth lap, Pierluigi Martini and Gerhard Berger both lost control and retired. Up until lap 15, the top four remained unchanged, with Niki Lauda and Patrick Tambay in fifth and sixth place, 25 seconds behind Alboreto in fourth. On lap 16, Keke Rosberg spun his car on the track, resulting in a yellow flag, since his car was in the middle of the circuit. Rosberg's vehicle was not immediately removed from the track and remained there for a few laps.

Image Credits - Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images

The race was supposed to be 70 laps long, but at the beginning of lap 67, the race director signaled to the leader, Ayrton Senna, that there was "one lap to go" because the race had gone over the allotted two hours. Only the second-placed Michele Alboreto's car was on the lead lap when Senna crossed the finish line, having led every lap of the contest. Third and fourth place went to Patrick Tambay and Elio de Angelis, who were both one lap behind. Two laps later, Nigel Mansell and Stefan Bellof took the final positions for points. Although Alboreto finished second, he crossed the finish line +1:02.978 later after Senna finished the race, all other drivers were overtaken by Senna by 1 or more laps.

Image Credits - Paul-Henri Cahier/Getty Images


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