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Celebrating Ayrton Senna’s legacy in the sport

To this day, Ayrton Senna’s dedication and love for the sport is a spectacle to behold. He was a philosopher, teacher, mentor and student of the sport, who lived his life the way most people can only dream of.

Abhranil Roy
Last updated: 21.04.2020
Ayrton Senna | Sports Social Blog

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‘They could never have imagined those pioneers who invented the automobile that it would possess us like this, our imaginations and our dreams. Nursie, men love women, but even more than that, men love cars.’

When Lord Hesketh uttered these words in the award-winning documentary Rush, little did he know how well he had just summed up the life of Ayrton Senna? The Brazilian legend, whom many regards as the greatest icon in the history of Formula One lived and died by the tip of his William F16, literally.


Senna’s bow into Formula One…

In Image: Aryton Senna childhood pic

Born in a well-to-do family, Senna made his mark in his very first season, when he outfoxed the rains to outmaneuver everybody but Alain Prost in the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix. Unfortunately, the race was called off in the 31st race but everyone was aware of the result: they had seen a genius emerge from the thundering storms.

From 1984 to 1987, Senna raced for Toleman and then Lotus. He kept making podium finishes, despite being nowhere near to the quality of the cars that William, McLaren, and Ferrari produced. However, the talent was there for all to see and he developed a deep relationship with Honda as well, something that helped him make the switch to McLaren in 1988.

Also Read | Hardest F1 tracks to race on

Senna v Prost, a rivalry for the ages…

Senna, thanks to his relationship with Honda joined McLaren the next year, which was already housing two-time World Champion Alain Prost. His rivalry with the Frenchman took the sport to another level, eclipsing even the animosity between Niki Lauda and James Hunt in the late 70s. Over the next five years, Senna picked up 3 titles and Prost pocketed 2 titles. Their dominance gave a new edge to the sport, which always looks for characters and personalities who do not follow norms. It made the sport an international product, but more so it transformed the duo into everlasting heroes.

An excellent case in point to underline their discord would be the 1989 and the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix. In 89, Senna needed to win the race in Japan to stay in the title hunt, However, Prost made some alterations to his car and managed to gain a headstart over Senna until he was almost overtaken by the Brazilian in the last chicane. At that point, the Frenchman took a hard right early and tangled into Senna’s wheels, driving him off the circuit and forcing both the cars into a standstill. Although Senna did go on and complete the race, he was later on disqualified for having broken several technical rules and Prost walked home with the honors.

In 1990, the roles reversed. At the Japanese Grand Prix once again, Senna accelerated and bumped into Prost, with the latter now needing a win. However, the collision meant that Senna would turn out to be the World Champion, although it is something that he has denied doing on purpose over and over again, especially in a now-famous interview with Jackie Stewart where the Brit questioned about how he had the largest number of accidents as a World Champion in the history of F1.

The history and the legacy…


Following his wins in 1988,1990 and 1991, Senna became the youngest ever triple world champion in history. His skills were unmatched and he was well on his way to becoming the greatest racer ever, when tragedy struck him at the Imola circuit in Italy on 1st May 1994.

Lagging 20 points behind in the Championship Table and facing immense psychological pressure following the crash and death of Rubens Barichello and Roland Ratzenberger at the same circuit during free-practice and qualifiers respectively, Senna failed to round the high-speed Tamburello corner and rammed into a concrete-retaining wall at over 230 kmph. He sustained multiple fatal injuries to his skull, brain and temporal artery, which caused him to suffer brain-death on the spot. His death was formally announced a few hours later at a hospital in Bologna.

Despite his untimely demise, Senna’s impact on Formula One is unquestionable and indelible. Following his death, better safety precautions were introduced in the sport, several engineering modifications were adapted and mass public awareness was carried out on the dangers of high-speed racing.

To this day, Senna’s dedication and love for the sport is a spectacle to behold. He was a philosopher, teacher, mentor and student of the sport, who lived his life the way most people can only dream of.

In his own words, ‘When you are fitted in a racing car and you race to win, second or third place is not enough.”

Senna Simpre.

Documentary: The Lifestyle of Ayrton Senna

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