Motor Racing: Senna sets pace

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The Independent Online
AYRTON SENNA presented his sponsors and his team, McLaren-Ford, with the strongest possible argument yesterday that he may be worth more than they had intended paying him to compete in this year's Formula One world championship. The Brazilian went round Silverstone in what is believed to be the fastest time set at the circuit in winter testing.

He produced a best lap of 1min 20.27sec, compared with the 1:21.00 logged by Damon Hill in the Williams-Renault, which is generally expected to be at the head of the field again this


The varied conditions and priorities involved in testing schedules may render these times less than totally indicative of the two teams' potential, but what is clear is that Senna remains the yardstick for any driver and that, in his hands, the all new MP4/8 could prove highly potent weaponry.

Now Senna begins talks with McLaren's managing director, Ron Dennis, which may conjure up a contract acceptable to both parties and put the three-times world champion on the grid for the opening race of the season, in South Africa, on Sunday week.

'It surprised me that we produced not only a good time but that we produced consistently good times,' Senna said. 'I was faster and the car was faster than on the first day of testing but now we have to wait and see what happens over the next two days.

'The fire inside me was very low until January but after talking to a friend on the phone it grew higher. One side of me says go away from this and look after yourself, the other side says you love it, it's been all your life, you get so much out of it and you've got the respect of so many people all over the world, you can't just drop it.

'But there are other things that are necessary to make the right decision.'