When the Grand Prix circus returned to Europe after the American races in 1984, Ayrton Senna was still a Formula One newcomer. The Toleman team had been struggling for three years and had only begun to get a few results toward the end of 1983. While the team had done very well in Formula 2, the F1 Toleman-Hart just couldn’t seem to compete with the much wealthier factory teams. A new car had been produced for 1984 and that looked much more promising, and so did the quiet and somewhat aloof Brazilian Senna. He had won everything in Formula Ford, Formula Ford 2000 and many of the races in F3, but F1 was a big step up and many people questioned whether he could possibly repeat his winning ways in a Toleman.
For the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, the 10th race of the season, the team had four cars, including a brand-new one just built for Venezuelan Johnny Cecotto. First practice on Friday morning had only been going for 4 minutes when Cecotto had a very big crash in his new Toleman-Hart TG184. He had seriously broken his ankles and was taken to the hospital, and the Toleman bad luck looked set to continue. Then Ayrton Senna went out in the shortened morning session in TG184-01 and set the fastest time of all. Everyone’s attention went to the end of the pit lane where the little Toleman team was. Maybe it was just a bit of luck, but he was quicker than Prost and Lauda in the McLaren-Porsches and everyone else.
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