Ayrton Senna won the Portuguese Grand Prix to take the first Formula One victory of what would be a glittering career. Senna started the weekend with another first when he piloted his Lotus to pole position ahead of Alain Prost. A rain shower meant that every driver started the race on wet tyres, with Nigel Mansell and Eddie Cheever starting in the pits after spinning out on the warm-up lap. Senna launched his car into the lead, where he would stay, leaving the field floundering in his wake. Michele Alboreto and Patrick Tambay both managed to overtake a faltering Elio de Angelis in the closing laps but Senna still won by over a minute.
MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi made his first outing in a Ferrari Formula One car and immediately impressed the team, reportedly lapping the Fiorano test circuit in 59 seconds. It was his first run in a single seater and the performance sparked rumours he would make the jump from MotoGP to F1 in the coming season. However, despite testing for the team on another two occasions, he has always insisted he has no plans to switch from two wheels to four.
Concerns started to mount about the state of the car parks at Silverstone after torrential rain ahead of the grand prix weekend turned the circuit and its surrounding area into a muddy bog. Organisers closed the car parks and put a hold on ticket sales in the hope of ensuring the circuit would be able to cope with the masses of crowds expected for Sunday's race. Meanwhile, Michael Schumacher slammed the decision to move the race from its usual July date. "It's not the right time to be here, honestly," he said. "It really is too cold. It feels like winter testing in Italy." The conditions were so bad that when the eventual race winner David Coulthard spun off during Friday's practice, he had to have his car towed out of the surrounding quagmire by a tractor.
Jenson Button was linked to a drive at Ferrari by the Daily Mirror and Italian media after a string of good results for Renault. At the time he was under contract with Williams and on loan to Renault, but with Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher at the British team, the press insisted Button was more likely to replace Rubens Barrichello at Ferrari. In the end he stayed at Renault for another year before moving to BAR Honda in 2004.
Red Bull both shocked and impressed its neighbours in the paddock by unveiling its Energy Station motor home at the San Marino Grand Prix. The three-storey construction, which is still in use, has meeting rooms for the team and drivers, a bar and lounge area (complete with 48 flat-screen TVs) and a sundeck on top. The structure dwarfed the McLaren motorhome in the Imola paddock, which had previously been the biggest, but was rumoured to have cost just a quarter of the price. Red Bull driver Tonio Liuzzi said: "I think, as they show with the motorhome, as they've shown in the past with some events, Red Bull are really great."