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This is the complete race as broadcast on LIVE TV.
As the 1989 World Championship wound down, Ayrton Senna needed a win in Japan (the second to last race
of the year) to keep his World Championship hopes alive against his rival, teammate, and current points
leader Alain Prost. Senna took pole position with Prost 2nd, while the Ferraris of Gerhard Berger and Nigel
Mansell shared the second row. Prost had a good start, and eventually built up a five second lead over
Senna. Then Senna began to come back, and by lap 40, they were only a second apart. Prost had the
advantage on the straights, Senna was better in the corners.
At the end of lap 46, in what is considered one of the most dramatic moments in F1 history, Senna made his
move at the chicane. Prost saw Senna coming and turned into him. The two McLarens locked and slid up the
chicane escape road. A furious Prost climbed out of his damaged McLaren and stormed away. His only
satisfaction was knowing that with Senna out he would capture the World Championship. But Senna wasn’t
finished. The marshals pushed Senna backwards onto the track, which put his car in a dangerous position,
so they pushed it forwards again. As they did so, Senna bump-started the engine, drove through the
chicane, and rejoined the race. With the front wing missing off his car, Senna pitted his McLaren
immediately, then rejoined the race 5 seconds behind new race leader Nannini. Senna’s chase was furious
and merciless. On lap 50 Ayrton sliced past Nannini to take the lead, then to win the race.
Meanwhile, Alain Prost was still fuming, and stunned that Senna not only rejoined the race after their
accident, but went on to win. In an unprecedented move, Prost protested that Senna did not return to the
track in the exact same place where their accident occurred. While Senna lost at least a minute due to the
accident, had to pit to get his front wing replaced, yet still won the race, Prost claimed that according to
the rules, Senna should have gone back about 50 feet at the point of the accident and returned to the track
at the exact same point he exited.
Because of the politics of Formula 1, and the admiration that FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre had for
fellow Frenchman Alain Prost, Senna was stripped of his win. McLaren appealed the decision but the FIA
Court of Appeal not only upheld the decision but fined Senna $100,000 and gave him a suspended six month
ban. Alessandro Nannini would win the race in his Benetton, but upon watching this even unfold, it will be
remembered as one of Senna’s greatest days, and also a day he will never forget. Senna remained bitter
about this incident for a long time, and his distrust of the FIA and the politics of Formula 1 would never be
forgotten. At the final race of the year in Australia, Senna accused FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre of
manipulating the World Championship to favor Prost. In the end, Alain Prost would win the 1989 World
Championship, Senna would come in 2nd.
A very hard race to find, the condition is not perfect, but it is very watchable! This is the
complete race as shown on live TV, with commentary by Murray Walker and James Hunt.