Ayrton Senna had a contract with Williams for the 1992 Formula 1 season ready to sign but stayed at McLaren because of his loyalty towards Honda.

Despite winning the 1988, 1990 and 1991 titles with McLaren, Senna was considering his options for the following year with his McLaren contract coming to an end.

The Renault-powered Williams outfit was emerging as the new powerhouse in F1 and Senna was becoming increasingly-interested in a move to the British team.

Senna ultimately remained at McLaren for a further season before sealing a switch to Williams for 1994. He was killed in a crash during the San Marino Grand Prix, the fourth round of that year’s world championship.

But the Brazilian’s former manager, Julian Jakobi, has revealed that Senna could have made the swap as early as 1992 after receiving two contract offers for that season - one from current team McLaren, and one from Williams.

“Ayrton wanted to go to Williams, but he was loyal to Honda," Jakobi said in the latest episode of F1’s Beyond the Grid podcast.

"His basic instinct was to go to Williams earlier, but he was loyal particularly to Mr. [Nobuhiko] Kawamoto, who was the president of Honda.

"He was very close to him, because Honda had basically brought themselves and Ayrton to McLaren in 1988, and they'd won three championships together.

"Even late '91, when he won the third championship, he didn't feel instinctively that the Honda was what it was, and he was worried about the future.

“In 91 I remember going to Spa with two contracts for Ayrton: One for McLaren and one for Williams,” Jakobi continued.

“Ayrton knew he should have gone to Williams, and we had both of the contracts ready to sign, and I thought on Sunday morning that he was going to sign with Williams.

“But he’d spoken to Kawamoto overnight in Japan and he came in on Sunday morning and said “I’m going to stay another year”. So he stayed at McLaren for 92.

“But he could already have gone [to Williams] for 92 and Nigel probably wouldn’t have been there. And that’s the year he won the championship. But when Ayrton backed out, Mansell stayed.”

Honda ultimately decided to pull the plug on its F1 operation following the 1992 season and McLaren subsequently switched to Ford engines.

The move had left Senna “devastated” according to Jakobi, with the Brazilian considering whether to take a sabbatical year from the sport in 1993 like Alain Prost had done the previous year.

"Honda decided to pull out, and they told Ayrton I think three months before they told Ron [Dennis], and he was devastated," Jakobi explained.

"Then we had to find another drive for '93. How close did he come to not driving in 1993? The answer is pretty close."

 

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