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F1 flashback: Senna’s first lap at Donington Park

Apr 11, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT

AUTO-PRIX-F1-MONACO-SENNA Getty Images

Today marks twenty years since the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park, which saw Ayrton Senna rise from fifth to first on the opening lap of the race in what is widely regarded as being the greatest lap in the history of Formula One.

1993 was a difficult year for McLaren and Senna, as Williams dominated both championships with a far superior car which took Senna’s greatest rival, Alain Prost, to a fourth drivers’ championship. However, when Formula One fans are asked about the 1993 season, it is Senna’s Donington mastery which is the stand out memory.

Senna started the race in fourth in wet conditions, but he quickly edged out a young Michael Schumacher (who had moved ahead of him) into turn one despite the German’s best efforts to force him wide, thus reclaiming fourth place. Senna then trailed Wendlinger with a brave yet brilliant overtake around the outside of Craner Curves, leaving the two Williams ahead. Damon Hill was easily passed at Coppice, with Senna excelling in the conditions. Finally, Alain Prost fell into the Brazilian’s clutches at the Melbourne hairpin, giving Senna a lead which he never relinquished.

The three-time champion went on to lead 71 out of 76 laps, winning the race by 1 minute and 23 seconds, and Damon Hill in second place was the only driver who was not lapped. It was one of the stand out wins during a glittering career that cements Senna’s place as one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time.

You can find a video of his first lap below.

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