30 years on: Ayrton Senna, ‘Lap of the Gods’ at Donington
By Mat Coch
Tuesday 11th April, 2023 - 3:00pm
On April 11, 1993, Ayrton Senna rose from fifth to lead the European Grand Prix at Donington Park in what is considered the ‘Lap of the Gods’.
It is regarded as one of the finest Formula 1 performances ever as the Brazilian showcased his supreme skill.
The event marked Formula 1’s first visit to Donington since the formation of the world championship in 1950.
It was a passion project of the circuit owner, Tom Wheatcroft.
F1’s visit sparked comparisons to the pre-war races which featured the might of Mercedes and Auto Union against the locals.
The 1993 race was held in mixed conditions, Senna dominating it to win from Damon Hill.
He had lined up fourth but a slow getaway saw him drop behind Karl Wendlinger as the field got going.
He quickly recovered. He cleared both Michael Schumacher and Wendlinger in the Craner Curves, the latter around the outside on approaching the Old Hairpin.
Hill fell victim just two corners later. Senna eased by at McLean’s before passing Prost for the lead at the Melbourne Hairpin.
From there, Senna was untouchable.
He read and responded to the ever-changing conditions for the rest of the race to storm to one of his most celebrated victories.
His margin of victory was almost a complete lap to Hill.
Third went to Alain Prost, a lap down, with Johnny Herbert fourth for Lotus.
It was arguably the finest performance in Senna’s finest season as he harried an outclassed McLaren to second in the world championship behind Prost.
He recorded five wins across the season, his last on the streets of Adelaide in the final race of the season.
It would prove to be his final F1 success.
In 1994, he replaced Prost at Williams, only to lose his life at the San Marino Grand Prix that May.
F1 return for Donington
Since 1993, there has been talk of Formula 1 returning to Donington, with groundwork commencing to extend the circuit.
A deal was even signed with former F1-supremo Bernie Ecclestone which was contingent on a £100 million revamp of the circuit.
That almost saw it vanish before being rescued by Kevin Wheatcroft, son of Tom. The former military vehicle depot is now owned by Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision (MSV).
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