A piece of Formula One history is currently for sale in London, with a price tag of a cool one million pounds.
Now if I had that sort of money stuffed behind the cushions of my sofa, I’d be digging it out and making my way down to Prindiville and picking up this:
(Pic Credit: Prindiville)
That’s right, it’s the ex-Senna Toleman-Hart TG184-2 – and is being sold by a private collector.
This is the car that drove Ayrton Senna into infamy on that incredibly rain soaked day in Monaco, thrusting him further into the spotlight and making team owners sit up and take notice. The conditions on that day in Monaco in 1984 were pretty dire – the kind of conditions that would stop a race these days. But as the rain continued to fall, the race started – with cars spinning this way and that under torrential conditions.
One driver who didn’t spin off – and indeed excelled in the conditions – was the young Brazilian Ayrton Senna. He had a deft touch, a feeling, an inner sense like no other driver in the wet. Lap after lap he wound his way around the Principality, passing cars and closing the gap to the race leader, Alain Prost. Bear in mind, that whilst the Toleman-Hart wasn’t a bad car, it wasn’t considered to be a serious threat for victories. But you just try telling Ayrton that.
Big names fell by the wayside. Ferrari, Brabham, Ligier, Williams, Lotus – and with incredible skill on Lap 31, Ayrton closed an incredible seven second gap, rounded the Ferrari (a backmarker) that stood between he and Prost. Then as the Officials stood on the main straight with a chequered flag in one hand and a red flag in the other, Prost stopped his McLaren on the main straight – short of the line. Aryton saw his chance, he powered past the stopped McLaren, crossed the line and for all intents and purposes, took the victory.
Instant jubilation. Ayrton had joined the greats – immortals even – by not only winning the Monaco Grand Prix, but winning it in his debut year – and in some of the worst conditions ever seen. But, in a cruel twist of fate, that jubilation was cut short.
The previous few laps, Alain Prost had been asking for the race to be halted. Watch the classic footage of him driving down the start/finish straight, his arms waving out of the cockpit, begging for someone to show him the flag. Murray Walkers cry of ‘… look at him waving, saying stop the race, stop the race, stop the race!’ is one of those classic pieces of footage that began the legendary Senna/Prost battles.
But all that waving drew attention. And so, the race was flagged on Lap 31 – just as Prost was coming out of the tunnel and Senna still had some 3 seconds to close him down. And as James Hunt rightly (or maybe cheekily) points out on the commentary, the French governance seems to have called the halt to the race at precisely the right time. According to the FIA back in 1984, when the race was flagged and red flag displayed, the finishing positions were called as they were when the stoppage was announced.
History will show us that the podium on that day was Prost on the top step, with Ayrton on the second and Bellof third. Second was the highest that Ayrton would stand on the podium in 1984. He’d need to wait until Portugal in 1985 – and driving a Lotus – before he would taste the first of his 41 wins.
When we think back to Ayton Senna and his classic drives, one instantly thinks of him driving a McLaren. That classic red and white livery, the battles with Prost and his three world championships. We easily forget that the Toleman TG184-2 was the car that enabled Senna to showcase his amazing talent in the wet and was the setting for one of the greatest drives in Formula One history.
Now, if I can just rustle up that million pounds.
I’ve just found two quid behind the sofa. Best I not book a test drive eh?