They first met properly at the opening of the new Nürburgring in May 1984. Alain Prost, just returned to McLaren from Renault and bidding for his first world title, even picked up Ayrton Senna at the airport, his 'enthusiastic' driving keeping the rookie amused and on edge all the way to the track.
Conversation was amiable, Prost would later recall, and in different circumstances the two might even have become friends. But that wasn't the destiny for the two greatest racing drivers of their generation. Not yet.
Prost and Senna were headed to the 'Ring to represent the new guard of Formula 1 in a one-make race for Mercedes 190E saloons, featuring a grid packed full of world champions: Niki Lauda, Keke Rosberg, Alan Jones, Jody Scheckter, James Hunt, Jack Brabham, John Surtees and more. Senna had been drafted in only to replace his countryman, the Indianapolis 500-bound Emerson Fittipaldi.