On this day in 1988 Ayrton Senna won his first F1 world championship title in Japan after securing the title with the victory against his team mate Alain Prost, one race before the end.

In 1988 we had first of three consecutive Japanese GPs  in which the main actors were Senna and Prost, the greatest drivers of their time. Japanese GP was the decisive championship race between Senna and Prost, who had been driving for McLaren Honda that year. Their car MP4-4 was a class of the field and the duo Senna Prost won 15 of 16 races in 1988.

Senna arrived in Japan with better chances for the title because the scoring system of that year counted only 11 best results for each driver. Senna won the pole position with three tenths advantage ahead of Prost, and third-placed Berger in Ferrari was second and a half behind.

Senna started badly and fell to 14th place as Prost took the lead in front of Berger. Then it started to rain and Ayrton pushed very hard and set the fastest lap after fastest lap.

Senna overtakes Prost for the lead in the Japanese GP 1988  (30th October, 1988) Photo: Norio Koike @ ASE

He passed all the drivers and started to catch the leading Prost who had problems with the gearbox. Senna had no problems to pass him, win the race and secure his first world championship.

Prost scored more points than Senna, but he could only win three more points in the last race as he already had 11 races in which he finished first or second. If he had won the last race, he would replaced one of his second places (6 points) with a win (9 points) and that would bring him only 3 point jump, which wasn’t enough to surpass Senna.

At the end of the season, Prost had 105 points against 94 for Senna, but scoring system counted only 87 points for Prost and 90 for Senna which secured the title for the Brazilian one race before the end of the season.

RESULTS

1 12 Ayrton Senna McLaren/Honda 51 1:33:26.173
2 11 Alain Prost McLaren/Honda 51 1:33:39.536 13.363
3 20 Thierry Boutsen Benetton/Ford 51 1:34:02.282 36.109
4 28 Gerhard Berger Ferrari 51 1:34:52.887 1:26.714
5 19 A.Nannini Benetton/Ford 51 1:34:56.776 1:30.603
6 6 Riccardo Patrese Williams/Judd 51 1:35:03.788 1:37.615

DRIVERS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

1 Ayrton Senna 87   9 6 9 9 6 9 9 9 9 (1) 3 9
2 Alain Prost 84 9 6 9 9 6 6 9 6 6 (6) 9 9 (6)

CONSTRUCTORS’ CHAMPIONSHIP

1 McLaren/Honda 184   9 15 9 15 15 15 15 9 15 15 15 10 12 15
2 Ferrari 65   8 2 10 7 7 7 3 15 2 1 3
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