|Date April 11, 1993||Course length 4.023 km (2.500 mi)|
|Official name XXXVIII Sega European Grand Prix|
Location Donington Park, Leicestershire, UK
Course Permanent racing facility
Distance 76 laps, 305.748 km (190.000 mi)
The 1993 European Grand Prix (formally the XXXVIII Sega European Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 11 April 1993 at Donington Park. It was the third round of the 1993 Formula One season. The race was contested over 76 laps and was won by Ayrton Senna for the McLaren team, ahead of second-placed Damon Hill and third-placed Alain Prost, both driving for the Williams team.
Senna's drive to victory is regarded as one of his finest, and his first lap exploits are particularly lauded, in which he passed four drivers—Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and Alain Prost—to take the lead in a single lap in torrential rain conditions. The race was the first held under the European Grand Prix title since 1985, and to date is the only Formula One grand prix to have been held at the Donington Park circuit.
After plans to hold an Asian Grand Prix at the Nippon Autopolis in Japan failed to materialise, the first European Grand Prix for eight years was run as the third race of the 1993 season. Donington Park was awarded the race, having unsuccessfully bid to host the British Grand Prix. Videogame company Sega sponsored the race and the logo could be seen throughout the Grand Prix and on the podium. Sega also had naming rights to the Grand Prix.
The Williams cars were 1–2 in qualifying with Prost on pole ahead of Hill, Schumacher, Senna, Wendlinger and Andretti. At the start, it was damp and Schumacher blocked Senna and both lost time and Wendlinger took third. Having dropped to fifth, Senna quickly passed Schumacher at the third corner. He then went after Wendlinger, passing him through the Craner Curves with Schumacher and Andretti trying to follow through. Schumacher went through but Andretti hit Wendlinger and both were out. Senna went after Hill now and took second at McLean's Corner. Now Prost was the target and the lead was taken at the penultimate corner – the Melbourne Hairpin. Going into the second lap, Senna led Prost, Hill, Barrichello (who had started 12th), Alesi, Schumacher and Lehto.
The track began to dry and everyone pitted for dry tyres. Lehto was fifth, having started from the pit lane, but he retired with handling problems on lap 14. Berger took the place but he too retired with suspension problems six laps later. It rained again and the leaders now pitted for wets. Schumacher stayed out and was leading but spun off on lap 23 because he was on the wrong tyres. The track began to dry and everyone pitted once again with Senna having a problem and losing 20 seconds. Prost now led Senna, Hill, Rubens Barrichello, Derek Warwick and Herbert.
It began to rain and the two Williams stopped for wets while Senna stayed out. It was the correct decision because it began to dry again. The Williams stopped yet again for dries. Prost stalled in the pits in his stop and when he rejoined, he was a lap behind and down in fourth. Barrichello was now second but it rained and then stopped again. He went to the pits twice and by now Hill was in second, albeit a lap down. Barrichello, third, had trouble with his fuel pressure and retired, giving the place to Prost. Senna set the fastest lap on lap 57, on a lap when he drove into the pitlane but aborted the pit stop, showing that there actually was a shortcut through the pitlane. This is due to the grand prix configuration of Donington, which has the pit entry before the final hairpin corner onto the start/finish straight. This is possibly the only fastest lap in modern F1 history set by driving through the pitlane.
Senna won from Hill and Prost, having made four pit stops in the wet-dry conditions compared to Prost's seven, which is a record that stands as of 2014. Johnny Herbert finished fourth for Lotus by stopping only once while all the other finishing drivers stopped in the pits several times. Patrese and Barbazza took the last two points scoring places. By the end, Senna had lapped the entire field except for one car and finished over a minute ahead of second place Damon Hill.
At the end of the race, Senna was led onto a podium and was given a trophy that depicted videogame character and Sega's mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog holding a trophy with the Sega logo underneath. A widely circulated image on the internet shows Senna holding the trophy. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the award Senna got for winning the Grand Prix but a fake trophy for a photo op. Video footage shows that after having the photograph taken, he was given the actual award, a trophy that does not depict either Sonic the Hedgehog or the Sega logo. The current location of the famous Sega trophy is unknown.