F1

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It really all started at the end of the first lap of 1988 Portuguese Grand Prix. Aryton Senna and Alain Prost were nearing the end of their first season driving together in the totally dominant Mclaren Honda team. All season long, the tension between these two great drivers had been building as the battle for the drivers crown intensified. But, even the most informed observer in Portugal could never have dreamt of what was about to be unleashed along with its impact on the consequences for Formula One. As the two Mclarens entered the pit straight to complete the first lap, Senna led, but Prost, having carried more speed through the final turn, was firmly in his slipstream. As Prost pulled out to complete the pass, Senna swerved to the right, Prost, refusing to lift, kept coming. Soon the cars were side by side, wheels interlocking at 180 MPH. Prost was just inches from the pit wall. Prost made the pass and duly won the race. Afterwards, furious at such tactics by a fellow driver, he is reported to have stated "If he (Senna) wants the World Championship so badly, he can have it." Prost's rage was due to the fact a basic rule of Motor Racing had been broken, and not by some F3 novice, but by a driver blessed with such enormous talent that he should have been able to find other ways to win in the supposed pinnacle of the sport, Formula One. Since motor racing began, the "slipstreaming pass" was the classic way to overtake. It relies on the fact that the leading car does not deviate too much from its line on the straight. There was no rule to enforce this, it was just taken for granted. If a slower car just weaved all over the road overtaking would be impossible, but that was against the "spirit" of racing. More of course was to come, much more. The inaction of the governing body of Formula One sent its message out loud and clear. Clearly Senna now felt that if he could get away with "swerving", then the next step would be "shutting the door firmly". This he duly did to Nigel Mansell at the same race the following year. Mansell, having slipstreamed Senna on the pit straight, went for the inside at the following right hand corner. Senna, refusing to be passed, moved over and the ensuing contact took them both out of the race.

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