Home - The Official Formula 1 Website Skip to content

The Comeback Kings - Part Two 16 Oct 2006

(L to R): Second placed Alain Prost (FRA) with his McLaren team mate Ayrton Senna (BRA), who took pole position and went on to win the race. Belgian Grand Prix, Rd 11, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 28 August 1988. World © Sutton
Race winner Alain Prost (FRA) (left) and team mate Ayrton Senna (BRA) McLaren MP4/4 battle for the lead into the first corner at the start of the race. Portugese Grand Prix, Estoril, 25 September 1988. World © Sutton Winner Ayrton Senna(BRA) Mclaren MP4-4 German GP, Hockenheim, 24 July 1988. World ©  SUTTON. Race winner Jody Scheckter (RSA) Ferrari 312T4 leads Jacques Laffite (FRA) Ligier JS11, who retired from the race on lap 56 with a broken gearbox. Monaco Grand Prix, Rd 7, Monte Carlo, Monaco, 27 May 1979. World © Phipps/Sutton Jody Scheckter (left), winner of the race and World Champion, and 2nd placed Gilles Villeneuve, right Italian Grand Prix, Monza, 9 September 1979. World ©  PHIPPS/SUTTON.

As Michael Schumacher looks to defy the odds and beat Fernando Alonso to the drivers’ title in Brazil this weekend, we take a look back at two more of Formula One racing’s greatest comebacks…

3= Ayrton Senna, 1988 (18 points - Alain Prost)
McLaren ran away with the 1988 constructors’ title, winning all but one of the 16 events, as their two star drivers, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, fought tooth and nail in an epic contest for the drivers’ crown.

Prost enjoyed the first taste of victory in Brazil, even though local hero Senna had scored pole. Gearbox problems forced the Brazilian to start from the pits and although he battled his way back to finish second, he was later disqualified for using the spare car. With a point to prove, Senna won in Imola, but then missed out in Monaco when he famously collided with a barrier whilst leading, handing victory to Prost. The Frenchman also won in Mexico, placing him comfortably in the lead after four rounds, 18 points ahead of Senna.

But wins in Canada and the US brought Senna back into the running. Prost responded with a storming drive in France, but Senna could not be contained for long. At a wet Silverstone, while a safety-conscious Prost bowed out, Senna scored what turned out to be the first of four consecutive victories.

A surprise Ferrari triumph at Monza for Gerhard Berger briefly interrupted McLaren’s winning streak before the season ended with three further wins for Prost - and a remarkable title-clinching one for Senna at the penultimate round in Japan. The Brazilian took pole as usual, but then stalled on the grid. The slope into Turn 1 saved him, however, and he was able to bump start his car before clawing his way back up from 14th. Prost may have been more consistent of the pair over the course of the season - he scored 105 points to Senna’s 94 - but with only each driver’s 11 best results counting, Senna’s all-or-nothing approach made him champion for the first time.

3= Jody Scheckter, 1979 (18 points - Jacques Laffite)
Jody Scheckter played a patient game during his title-winning season of 1979. His Ferrari was by no means the fastest car on the grid - he qualified on the front row only twice - but it did have one advantage over most of its competition - superb reliability.

Initially, Ligier’s Jacques Laffite looked to have the strongest package, taking wins in Brazil and Argentina. Scheckter, meanwhile, struggled to make his mark in the opening South American rounds and came away trailing the Frenchman by 18 points. In South Africa and Long Beach the Ferrari had the edge, but at both races it was Scheckter’s team mate Gilles Villeneuve who claimed victory ahead of the South African.

But with successive wins at rounds six and seven in Belgium and Monaco, Scheckter finally leapfrogged Laffite in the driver standings. The pace of Laffite’s Ligier had faded dramatically since Brazil and instead it would be Renault and Williams who emerged to challenge Ferrari in the latter half of the season.

However, both teams lacked the consistency of the Italian machines, and although they won six of the next eight races between them, the points’ haul was dispersed between three drivers - Alan Jones, Clay Regazzoni and Jean-Pierre Jabouille - much to Scheckter’s benefit.

He would win only one more Grand Prix - Ferrari’s home race at Monza near the end of the season - but with that victory he sealed the title with two rounds to spare. Consistency was the key to Scheckter’s success - he failed to make the top six on just three occasions - and he finished the year with a four-point advantage over Villeneuve.

The best of the rest:
5= Nelson Piquet, 1981 (17 points - Carlos Reutemann)
5= Mike Hawthorn, 1958 (17 points - Stirling Moss)
7= Michael Schumacher, 2003 (16 points - Kimi Raikkonen)
7= Keke Rosberg, 1982 (16 points - Alain Prost/Didier Pironi)
9. Niki Lauda, 1984 (15 points - Alain Prost)
10= Nelson Piquet, 1983 (14 points - Alain Prost)
10= Jack Brabham, 1960 (14 points - Bruce McLaren)

Click here to go back to Part One.