On This Day in #F1: 21st April 1985

Brought to you by TheJudge13 chronicler Carlo Carluccio

– 1985: Ayrton Senna’s first Grand Prix victory


On this day in 1985 – Ayrton Senna would not have been allowed to start the race if the regulations were the same as the modern dystopian alternatives.

A news bulletin that evening would possibly have read: “Pole sitter Ayrton Senna was seen sitting in the warm motor-home whilst the race was postponed due to heavy rain. There was talk that the drivers might venture out and dawdle behind the safety car but the most likely outcome is the race will be run in the predicted dry conditions tomorrow…”

Todays cultured TV audience embraces anaesthetised real life events – whilst rejoicing in the most realistic CGI infested movies, with all their associated “life-like” horrific images – because the paymasters tell us it’s safe…

I am eternally grateful that I experienced Formula One before political correctness stabbed its claws in!

I remember the 1988 British Grand Prix wash out – I was there. On television I watched mesmerised as Schumacher dominated the 1996 Spanish Grand Prix or when he collided in blinding rain into Coulthard’s McLaren in the 1998 Belgian race.

There are so many more examples – all of which would have been consigned to the history books – not to legend – if the current rules had existed then.

Following the 1984 Monaco GP, James Hunt described Senna as ‘a staggering talent.’ After only his second event with Lotus the world’s media elevated him to a Championship challenger and if his Lotus hadn’t suffered such appalling reliability throughout the year, he would have been a contender – without doubt. By the 1985 European GP – Alan Henry described him as a ‘miracle’

What actually happened on this day was – the Brazilian opened the leather bound volume marked ‘Legend’ and began transcribing the next chapter.


Senna made a clean get-away from pole position and entered the first corner with a clear road ahead of him. Sixty seven laps later he took the chequered flag with only Michele Alboreto on the same lap. He had taken his first victory in emphatic style with fastest lap to complete this stunning demonstration – making everybody else look ordinary. It was his sixteenth Grand Prix..

Afterwards, the usually reserved Brazilian let himself go, his belts undone and practically launched himself from the car.


When asked by the press how he’d found the race he replied: “The big danger was that conditions changed all the time. Sometimes the rain was very heavy sometimes not. I couldn’t see anything at all behind me it was difficult even to keep the car in a straight line sometimes.”

Some years later when Senna was asked about highlights of his career he recalled: “One of the best moments of my career was my first victory in Formula One, in Portugal, in the rain. It was also the first pole of my career and together with my first championship was one of the best, if not the best moment of my career so far. It was a race full of memories, full of excitement. It is something that I am going to keep in my mind for the rest of my life, that’s for sure.”

It has remained in the minds of all motor racing fans ever since.

6 responses to “On This Day in #F1: 21st April 1985

  1. I’m totally with you. I’ve been so soaking wet in spa, that I felt like I would still drown even if i was a fish. But that was some of the most epic racing I ever saw. Rain separates the men from the boys.

    • Agreed.. but this PC is a recent thing.. they were happy to run at Fuji in 2008. Strangely the cars are safer than ever now (post-Kubica crash), unless it was Massa’s injury that made them think twice. But now we wait until inters.. might as well not bother to bring the wet tyres! There’s your tyres saved!

  2. that race and its result gained a whole other meaning hours after in Brazil, after the announcement of mr. Tancredo passing, as he was going to be the first civilian President after 20 yrs of bloody military dictatorship, he was also held dearly by the people

    incidentally, another Senna famous gesture, that of holding the flag after winning the race, started with anothe crappy day for BRA when it was defeated by France in the ’86 World Cup

    curious how Senna was strongly tied with BRA emotions back then, when the sport and life itself were not sanitised and fenced by those politically corrct hypocrisy

  3. political correctness didn’t stab it’s claws in, it was death. and as someone who watched senna die on live tv, i have to say i am glad that so far we got rid of it. watching drivers die is not part of the excitement for me and if it is for you i am sorry to tell you that this isn’t ancient rome anymore. we still have wet races, so i don’t know what you guys are talking about. the only race that wasn’t run due to impossible conditions was canada 2011. and even in the good old past we had boring races and exciting races. that’s the nature of every sport, it’s real and not scripted and sometimes reality is boring.

    • I don’t disagree with you, but previously to using my name here, my nick was hero was senna. I also watched this man dying on track, and the day before Ratzenberger. I have seen too may fatal accidents up until Simoncelli’s just two seasons ago and it’s not entertainment for me. It’s shocking but having the safety car rule in place at old narrow tracks is very different to having them in place in the airfields called Tilke domes. Either way, with penalties for racing accidents, nanny state rules for absolutely every transgression drivers are missing an edge now

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