Ayrton Senna opted against signing for Williams for the 1992 Formula 1 season out of loyalty for then McLaren engine supplier Honda, according to his former manager, Julien Jakobi.
After winning his third and final F1 title in ’91, Senna was approached by Williams to switch from McLaren for the ’92 season, and although he wanted to move, he was convinced to remain at McLaren by then Honda president Nobuhiko Kawamoto, who, according to Jakobi, “persuaded [that] Honda would remain committed” to F1.
Senna would go on to finish fourth in ’92 whilst Nigel Mansell won the title for Williams and the following season would finish runner-up to Williams’ Alain Prost. Honda also withdrew from its engine programme and that finally led to Senna quitting McLaren for Williams in ’94, the year he would suffer a fatal crash.
“Ayrton wanted to go to Williams [for ’92],” Jakobi told the official Formula 1 podcast. “But he was loyal to Honda.
“His basic instinct was to go to Williams earlier. But he was loyal, particularly to 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.
“I remember him telling me in 1990, even late ’91, when he won the third championship, that he didn’t feel instinctively that the Honda was what it [had been]. He was worried about the future.”
Jakobi revealed that he had two contracts and believed Senna would sign for Williams, but a late call from Honda swayed the Brazilian’s decision.
“In ’91, I remember going to Spa with two contracts for Ayrton, one for McLaren and one for Williams. And Ayrton knew, I think, that he should have gone to Williams.
“We had both the contracts ready to sign and we thought on Sunday morning that he was going to sign with Williams. But then he’d spoken to Kawamoto overnight in Japan. He came in on the Sunday morning and said ‘I’m going to stay another year’.”