Alain Prost reveals Japan meeting which swayed McLaren towards Aryton Senna

The British manufacturer were set on Nelson Piquet before the Frenchman spoke


Alain Prost has revealed that he had to convince McLaren to sign Ayrton Senna in 1988 during a meeting in Japan.

The British team had been all set to sign Prost‘s good friend and rival Nelson Piquet after he won the 1987 title with Williams. But Prost, who would later go on to form a fierce rivalry with Senna, had to persuade McLaren to go with the young charger over the experienced campaigner.

When asked if he could have vetoed Senna’s arrival at McLaren on the Beyond the Grid podcast, Prost said: “There was nothing contractually but I think it would have been easy for me at the time to say ‘No, I would prefer Nelson’.

“When we were in a meeting in Japan, we were going with Nelson who is a good friend but I said ‘Why don’t you take the young guy? Ayrton is the future of Formula 1.

“Saying that today looks stupid, but that was me at the time, I was always doing everything for McLaren.”

Anti-Senna clause

Five years after the two were brought together at McLaren, Prost was looking for a new team after sitting out of the 1992 season following his exit from Ferrari.

Williams came to his door hoping to bring him to the team but Prost said he would not sign if there was any chance of Senna becoming his teammate.

In fact, he made sure at the very start of negotiations that a clause preventing Senna from being signed while he was driving for the team was firmly in place.

“We started to have an argument about Ayrton,” Prost continued. “The only thing I asked of Frank [Williams] when we met for the first time talking about the contract is that I cannot be a teammate again with Ayrton.

“Give me whatever money you want, I don’t want to be number one and he said ‘for sure, I understand’ and we put the clause in.”

Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis
Joe Ellis is a motorsport journalist with experience working in BTCC. He is the resident IndyCar correspondent for and a top class F1 writer.
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