Speaking to 2016 F1 world champion Nico Rosberg on a podcast, Prost revealed that Honda favoring Senna, as well as team boss Ron Dennis being more lenient towards the Brazilian’s actions, contributed to the Frenchman’s frustrations at McLaren. He said:
“At the end of 1988, I had a meeting in Switzerland with Mr. Kawamoto, the president of Honda, and I said to him, ‘Okay, I’ve seen a lot of things this year. That is not fair. I’ve seen too much preference for Ayrton, and I really feel that the psychology inside the team was difficult for me.’”
Prost said there weren’t any major issues within the team during the 1988 season, despite Honda’s alleged favoritism towards Ayrton Senna. The turning point in their relationship came at Imola in 1989, when the Brazilian violated their pre-race agreement to not overtake, before going on to accuse Prost of breaking it first.
Furthermore, Prost said Dennis was more lenient of Ayrton Senna’s actions:
“We had a meeting after Imola, and Ron (Dennis), when he was talking to Ayrton, he really was never strong. He was almost shy. When Ayrton said, ‘But it’s Alain that overtook me before the first corner,’ he (Dennis) said, ‘You know, we have 700 million people watching, you cannot say that.’ But Ayrton was convinced in his head that I overtook took him and so we had this strange discussion. The end of 1989 was a nightmare, from very early on.”
Ayrton Senna’s self-confidence was unshakeable, feels Alain Prost
Prost has said that Ayrton Senna was “supremely” confident of his own abilities and that he has never seen a more intense rival in qualifying.
“He was so confident about himself that trying to fight him in qualifying was so intense. Over one lap for quantifying, he really could take any kind of risk.”
However, Prost has claimed that Ayrton Senna was also not ready to put his self-confidence in any kind of danger, and created his own version of events to justify his actions:
“He was self-confident, and he will not accept anything that will put this confidence in danger in any way.”
Prost left McLaren at the end of 1989, after coming together with Senna at the penultimate race in Suzuka. The controversial collision decided that year’s championship in Prost’s favor.
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The following season, Prost and Senna, now at Ferrari and McLaren respectively, once again collided in Suzuka, with the title going to the latter.