Matt Robinson profile picture Matt Robinson 7 years ago
Blog

Ayrton Senna Used This Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 To Stamp His Authority On F1

Earlier this week I had the chance to meet an important piece of motorsport history

Remind me later
Mercedes Benz - Ayrton Senna Used This Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 To Stamp His Authority On F1 - Blog

In Ayrton Senna’s legendary F1 career, there are so many moments in the early days that pointed towards his future successes. There was the second place finish at the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, where in only his sixth F1 race he challenged McLaren’s Alain Prost for the lead, despite being aboard the much less competitive Toleman. Or there’s his first F1 victory at the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, where he steered his Lotus to victory, having lapped all cars but one. Before any of that, though, Senna put on an extraordinary display behind the wheel of this Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 ‘Cosworth.’

I had the chance to get up close and personal with this car earlier in the week at the UK launch of the new Mercedes C-Class (full review coming soon). As a former 2.3-16 owner, seeing this car was a particularly special moment, as it’s probably the most special Cosworth 190 out there. To know why, you have to look back to that 1984 F1 season.

Mercedes Benz - Ayrton Senna Used This Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 To Stamp His Authority On F1 - Blog

With it becoming increasingly apparent that it wasn’t feasible to bring the 13 mile Nürburgring up to the increasing safety standards of Formula 1, an entirely new 2.8 mile track was designed and built. It was completed in 1984, and to inaugurate the circuit, Mercedes brought along 20 of its new 190E 2.3-16s - each barely modified other than the addition of a roll cage, race seat and a few other safety bits - and handed them over to a bunch of incredibly talented racing drivers.

The roster reads like a who’s who of F1 past and present at the time: Jack Brabham, James Hunt, Alain Prost, John Surtees and Niki Lauda were all there, as well as an F1 newbie from Brazil called Ayrton Senna.

Mercedes Benz - Ayrton Senna Used This Mercedes 190E 2.3-16 To Stamp His Authority On F1 - Blog

Niki Lauda missed qualifying and started at the back, but put on an incredible performance, storming through the field to second. And yet he was unable to pass the considerably less experienced driver who was leading the race: Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian took the chequered flag ahead of Lauda, with Carlos Reutemann in third and Keke Rosberg in fourth. It marked Senna as a forced to be reckoned with, and made the car he drove a significant piece of motorsport history.