Senna interviewed after winning the Detroit Grand Prix 1987
1987 was a pivotal year for Ayrton Senna. For his third season with Lotus, the team had managed to secure Honda engines, the same power-plants that Williams had used to win the Constructors Championship in 1986 and would ultimately propel Piquet to Championship glory in 1987.
Senna had just begun the process of building a deep relationship with Honda that would pay massive dividends come 1988 when Ayrton would pilot a McLaren to the World Championship, powered by those all conquering Honda V6 Turbos. It would also set off a chain of events that would have a big effect on the other two men in the interview. (Senna interview begins 4:22)
After winning at Detroit, Ayrton was now leading the World Championship, after picking up the first of his six Monaco victories two weeks beforehand. These were also the first two victories for a car with active suspension.
You can see Senna is relishing explaining how he outraced everybody by doing the whole race on one set of tyres. As team manager Peter Warr explains post race, it was Sennas call.
Senna turned the race’s fastest lap on lap 39 at 1:40.464, faster than his qualifying time! Realising that he was faster on his original tyres than the others were on new ones, he decided to finish the race without stopping to change them. During the race the Lotus crew emerged in the pit lane as if preparing for a stop, confusing rival teams, and it wasn’t until lap 50 of the 63 lap race that the rest of the field woke up the fact the Brazilian was not coming in. By that time, he was nearly a minute ahead.
This was only Senna’s six career victory, and the last ever win for Team Lotus.
What you also have wonder is just how much Senna knew at the time about the scale of impact he was about to have on the two men who finished directly behind him. Because just 12 weeks later at Monza, it was announced that he was off to McLaren to partner Prost, with Honda engines to boot. Williams would lose their supply of Honda power forcing Piquet to opt for Sennas old seat at Lotus. Of course we all know what happened between Prost and Senna at McLaren and Piquet’s switch to Lotus marked the beginning of the end of his career as a top flight F1 driver.
Detroit 1987: An interesting moment in F1 history.