A professional racing driver’s performance is indelibly linked to the performance of a racing car he likes. I have been fortunate to have driven two such cars in Formula One, the first car I drove in a Grand Prix, a Tyrrell 018, and the last Ferrari I drove, the 412T2. Of the two, the Tyrrell made a significant impression on me, and I choose it as the greatest. It was designed by the fabulously talented engineer Harvey Postlethwaithe. I was very close to him and he was very good to work with. He was the innovator of the anhedral front wing that was first used on the Tyrrell 018 in 1990, and became the feature of the new 019. This wing increased the amount of air that flowed underneath the car; at speed the high flow of air causes a low pressure area that leads to higher downforce. At that time, designers and engineers were all looking to find ways of creating downforce; Harvey was the one who found it. At first, the car was fitted with a more conventional front wing and I was able to finish 4th in my first Grand Prix at Paul Ricard. I went on to score further points at the Austrian Grand Prix and French Grand Prix.
We ran 018 for the first two races of the 1990 season, but with this new wing. The first of those races was the United States GP at Phoenix, Arizona. If we look at that period of time, the regulations in Formula One were not much better than now, but I felt they gave the engineers and designers a greater freedom to put together a package, and Harvey came up with this new front wing. The engine was less powerful than the Honda used by McLaren and the Ferrari engine, but it needed less fuel and my car was significantly lighter and more compact. Ken (Tyrrell) had just completed a deal to run Pirelli tires for the season—it was only signed two days before the Grand Prix. Those tires were so good, and my car so nimble I only used one set of tires for the race while many of my competitors had to stop for a new set. The combination of these things put me in a position to have a great race battle with Ayrton Senna in the dominant McLaren, which would take him to his second World Championship. Ultimately, the power of his car and the failing tires on mine helped him to victory, but it was a great 2nd place.
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