Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the rivalry between Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna was the defining F1 rivalry of an entire era; the pair combined to win five of six championships between 1988 and 1993 and seven of ten from 1984-1993. Senna rivalry began in 1988 once the two were paired as teammates on McClaren. Despite being teammates on the McClaren-Honda team at the time, Prost and Senna became bitter rivals as they emerged as the clear two best racers in the world.
Entering the 1988 season, Prost was considered the overwhelming favorite to claim the championship, but Senna unseated him, thanks to his daring, inventive driving style. In the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix, Senna’s engine would stall causing him to fall back to 14th place. Over the course of four laps, Senna managed to make up ten places. He eventually caught up to Prost and won the race, giving him his first world championship. Off the track, tension began to simmer between the two, with Prost accusing McClaren of giving Senna preferential treatment.
In the following 1989 season, Senna and Prost would again exchange wins. By the time the Japanese Grand Prix rolled around, tensions were at an all time high. On lap 47 of the race, Senna made a move on Prost leading to a crash. While Prost hopped out of the car, Senna pushed his car back on track and got himself back into the race. Senna was disqualified by the FIA by the time he crossed the finish line. Due to this disqualification, Prost won the world championship and decided to leave McClaren to join Ferrari.
Accordingly, the 1990 season marked the most intense chapter in their rivalry. Entering the Japanese Grand Prix, the two of them were once again neck-and-neck for the crown—Senna could secure the crown by finishing ahead of Prost or if the pair both crashed out. On the first turn of the race, Senna made an aggressive move to try to overtake Prost, but collided with his nemesis, disqualifying them both from the race. Since neither driver finished the race, Senna won the world championship. After the race, Prost seethed that Senna was "disgusting...and a man without honor."
In the 1993 season, Prost joined Williams as a driver. However, in this contract there was a statement stating Senna could not join him as a teammate. After winning the 1993 world championship Prost would retire from Formula One, ending the rivalry. In 1994 Senna crashed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix where he was pronounced dead a few hours later. With their rivalry put to the side, Prost would end up being one of the men to carry Senna to his resting place. Many Formula One fans nominate this rivalry as the greatest in history.