Senna had competed juts twice in Silverstone, as an F1 driver, before he won for the first time at the circuit. The Brazilian driver had almost won in 1985, but fuel tank problems took the Lotus-Renault out of the lead. less than ten laps away from the end. In 1987, Senna finished in third with his Lotus-Honda. In 1984 and 1986, the British GP took place at Brands Hatch.
In 1988, Senna was the favorite to win, alongside Alain Prost, his McLaren teammate and the championship leader up until then. The Frenchmand was 15 points ahead of Senna (54 vs. 39), but that advantage would shrink to 6 points by the time the GP was over.
On Saturday, Ferrari exceeded expectations with Gerhard Berger, who took the pole position. It was the only race that year that McLaren didn’t start t the front. On the grid, Senna as in third and Prost ended up in fourth. Michele Alboreto, also from Ferrari, would be starting in second place.
It was raining a lot on Sunday, at Silvertone – perfect conditions for another Senna spectacle. In the first lap, Ayrton overtook Alboreto, Prost fell to the middle of the pack and soon the Brazilian was chasing Berger to fight for the lead.
The race reached its peak in t He 13th lap, when Senna overtook the Austrian. He got close to the Ferrari, braked as late as possible, and almost crashed into Prost, who was forced to practically park his car, allowing Senna to pass it. The Brazilian was lapping his teammate, who would retire from the race a little later, claiming it was impossible to keep driving.
Senna held on to the lead and climbed on the podium alongside Nigel Mansell (Williams) and Alessandro Nannini (Benetton). Berger had fuel problems and left the race in the 50th lap.