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Had such a scenario been suggested at the beginning of the year it would have seemed laughable: Ayrton Senna 20 points down on arch-rival Michael Schumacher with two races gone. But there was nothing laughable for Senna about the 1l circus's first visit to Hajime Tanaka's TI Circuit Aida.
The Brazilian worked very hard indeed for the 64th pole position of his career, in a Williams-Renault that had no qualms about demonstrating its continuing distaste for slow-speed corners. Indeed, though Ayrton finally scraped to the premier position by two tenths of a second, one always had the suspicion that we never really saw Schumacher extract the best from the nimble Benetton.