In all my career, the very best cars I ever drove were the 1986 Benetton B186-BMW and the 1987 Ferrari F1/87 V6. Both cars had the really big turbo power, the big rear wheels, and went like rockets. They were so fast they were nearly uncontrollable, but I liked those years and learned to use the turbo engine to the maximum. The top turbo engines were pushing out 1400 horsepower, and the cars had big, sticky qualifying tires. Qualifying in those days was the most exciting thing. Far, far more than it is now. The cars were so brutal with all that horsepower boosted by the turbo. Okay, with the delays of the turbo you had to brake late, but when you finished braking you had to be already full on the throttle as you entered the corner because the delay in turbo response meant it wouldn’t kick in until the corner was finished. If, for any reason, the turbo power came in just two meters too early, the result was a big powerslide coming out, but you could still control the big powerslide with the throttle and you had so much power you could still catch up again. The slide wouldn’t ruin your next straight. Whereas these days, with current cars, when you have a big slide out of the corner the next straight is dead because you don’t have the power to bring back the speed. So it was not a question of details, it was a question of timing—and bigger balls!!! It was very satisfying, especially in qualifying, to get the top speed from the car. Qualifying was all about top speed. Setting up the right suspension for each track was really interesting, and a part of the race weekend I enjoyed. You wouldn’t believe what it was like to go around Monte Carlo with those engines! In the race you didn’t drive so fast, it was a matter of getting into the right position to be at the front at the end.
If I had to pick out a great race and a great racing car it would be Adelaide, 1987, in the Ferrari. I had not been feeling well in qualifying, but managed to put the car on pole. In the race I was in front of Ayrton Senna, he was in the Lotus in those days. We had a great battle in the race, playing “ping-pong” with fastest lap times. We tried all kind of games with each other throughout the race. I managed to win and he finished 2nd, afterward his car had some technical problems and was disqualified. I like to think I had a special relationship with Ayrton, we played many games with each other, many have been written about—especially when we were teammates at McLaren. I really got to know him at this time, and to know the type of person he was. I think there was only one problem I had with Ayrton, he was too bloody fast!
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