Formula 1 is no stranger to high profile drivers. From Michael Schumacher to Dan Gurney, the number of legends to get behind the wheel is staggeringly high. However, one name tends to stand out: Ayrton Senna. That’s why for this week’s Want we take a look at the car that kicked off the career of one of the best F1 drivers of all time.
While Senna is mostly known for his time with Lotus and McLaren, his career started with Toleman. If you’re a newcomer to the sport you might not recognize that name. But, back in the early 1980s, it was … well it wasn’t great.
Over five seasons and 70 races, the team never won a race. However, it almost did.
In 1984 a young Senna made his Monaco Grand Prix debut. Driving this very Toleman-Hart TG184 up for auction through Bonhams, he qualified 12th.
Come race day though, weather conditions were poor. Rain soaked the track and even delayed the race by 45 minutes. This put a damper on things since in 1984 the race had a two-hour time limit for its 76 laps.
Throughout the beginning of the race, Alain Prost and Nigel Mansell battled for the lead. However, on lap nine, Mansell crashed due to the poor weather conditions. Prost then needed to pass René Arnoux’s Ferrari to regain the lead — which he did with ease.
Senna was catching Prost at an alarming rate: nearly three seconds a lap. The largely uncompetitive Toleman team had its sights on its first victory ever.
On lap 31 though, Prost signalled to the stewards he wanted the race stopped. Course clerk Jacky Ickx seemed to agree and ordered the red and checkered flag waved on lap 32.
By that time Senna had taken the lead from Prost’s slowing McLaren MP4/2 and crossed the line first. However, F1 rules cost him the victory.
Since the last lap every driver completed was lap 31, that’s where the final positions were ranked. Since Prost led at that time he ultimately claimed the victory for the race — one of the most controversial in F1.
The stage was set for Senna though. Even with a less than perfect car he could do wonderful things.
But was the Toleman-Hart TG184 really that bad? Compared to the other contenders of the day, yes.
With a 1.5-liter four-pot sporting a turbocharger, it made around 600hp. The MP4/2made 50hp more and the Ferrari 126 C4 ten more over that. Plus both were backed by a huge team of engineers and almost an endless budget.
But no matter how lackluster the Toleman-Hart TG184 is, it’s still the genesis for one of the greatest drivers to ever live.
To make the auction even more special, Bonhams is offering it at The Monaco Sale ‘Les Grandes Marques à Monaco’ on May 11. There’s currently no estimate listed. However, the car previously sold in 2015 for £1,000,000 ($1,400,000) so expect something in that ballpark this time around.