Ayrton Senna did one of the greatest first laps in Formula One history; going from fifth to first during the European Grand Prix in 1993, and later won the race. Having qualified for fourth, Senna dropped to fifth after Michael Schumacher blocked him in the first corner. He then began the chase, passing Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and Alain Prost before entering the second lap.
Senna also set the fastest lap by going through the pits without stoping, since the entry was before the last hairpin. It was his last fastest lap of his career.
From the M7A - the car that Bruce McLaren himself drove to victory in Spa-Francorchamps in 1968, the first ever victory for the team in Formula 1… to the MP4/27, the car that won 7 races and 8 pole positions in 2012.
Late in the race, on a damp but drying track, Senna had come up to lap the battling duo of Irvine and Damon Hill.
Senna held a relatively comfortable lead over arch-rival Alain Prost at this point and initially managed to slip past Irvine when the Jordan rookie ran wide at the tricky Degner section.
However, keen to resume battle with Hill, Irvine closed back in on Senna’s MP4-8 before, in an unprecedented move, audaciously re-passing the then 39-time race winner around the outside into the chicane.
Irvine would subsequently fall off the road again, allowing Senna to get by, but he’d rile the Brazilian still further by unlapping himself again on the penultimate lap, having survived a late race clash with Derek Warwick.
Picture the scene: Eddie Irvine has just taken a brilliant sixth-place finish in his maiden Grand Prix, and having changed out of his overalls, he’s now sat in the Jordan team’s rather rudimentary hospitality cabin in the Suzuka paddock, savouring the moment.
Suddenly the door to the Jordan unit swings open and in marches Ayrton Senna, followed swiftly by a string of worried faces from McLaren, including the Brazilian’s race engineer Giorgio Ascanelli and the team’s director of communications Norman Howell.
“What the **** do you think you were doing?” says Senna, who’s already lambasted Irvine in the post-race press conference, by way of an opening comment.
“I was racing,” comes the Jordan driver’s blunt reply.
“You were racing?” says an incredulous Senna, seemingly taken aback by Irvine’s less than apologetic response. “Do you know the rule that you’re supposed to let the leaders come by when you’re a backmarker?”
“If you were going fast enough, it was no problem,” comes the quickfire retort.
“You want to do well - I understand, because I’ve been there,” continued an irate Senna in the Jordan cabin. “But it’s very unprofessional…”
“But I would have followed you if you had overtaken Hill!” countered Irvine, tensions escalating.
“You nearly hit Hill in front of me three times, because I saw, and I could have collected you and him as a result, and that’s not the way to do that,” said Senna, imploring Irvine to admit his mistake.
Irvine, however, was having none of it: “But I’m racing! I’m racing!” he protested.
It was at this point that Senna finally boiled over.
“You’re not racing!” he exclaimed. “You’re driving like a ****ing idiot! You’re not a racing driver, you’re a ****ing idiot!”
Moments later, with the two men still at loggerheads, Senna threw a fist in Irvine’s direction.
How much contact he actually made with the brash debutant is open to debate, but Irvine, who’d been leaning on a table, hit the deck as Senna was manhandled away by his startled colleagues from McLaren.
Within a matter of minutes news of the altercation had spread throughout the paddock - and would remain the hot topic of conversation for weeks until Senna was eventually handed a suspended two-race ban by the FIA.