In 1990, after Alain Prost had moved on from McLaren to Ferrari, Aryton Senna won the U.S. Grand Prix at Phoenix. But the star of the race, in a Tyrrell, was young Frenchman and F1 newcomer Jean Alesi, who battled the defending World Champion wheel-to-wheel and did what nobody else could, only just failing in the end. (He finished just +8.685s behind.) Alesi unfortunately never lived up to his potential, especially after a string of five poor seasons with the Scuderia. But his debut is memorable, and this vignette from Formula1Fancast.com really does it justice.
In an under-funded, under-powered team Jean Alesi had challenged one of the best drivers in the world and given as good as he got. Another second place in Monaco, his time fending off the McLaren of Berger, only solidified the fact that a new star was rising in Formula One. The next time F1 made its way to Phoenix, Jean Alesi had replaced Nigel Mansell at Ferrari, a drive that he had dreamed of his whole career.