Tuesday 29 April 2014

Ayrton Senna: The man behind the legend

The young Ayrton Senna in his Karting days.
Source: FormulaOneStuff.com
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the tragic passing of Brazilian Formula One legend Ayrton Senna. The tragic accident on 1 May 1994, sent shockwaves through the world of Formula One and all around the world. The funeral in his hometown of Sao Paulo drew hundreds of thousands. Ayrton Senna da Silva was born on 21 March 1960. He was a Brazilian racing driver who won three Formula One World Championships and had began his motorsport career in karting, moving up to open-wheel racing in 1981, and winning the British Formula 3 championship in 1983.

The winner of the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix Ayrton Senna.
Source: Formula1.com
Senna made his Formula One debut with Toleman in 1984 before moving to Lotus the following year and winning six Grand Prix’s over the next three seasons. In 1988, he joined Alain Prost at McLaren. Among them, they won all but one of the 16 Grand Prix’s that season and Senna claimed his first World Championship. Prost claimed the championship in 1989, and Senna his second and third championships in 1990 and 1991. In 1992, Senna managed to finish the 1993 season as runner-up, winning five races and negotiating a move to Williams for the 1994 season.

Former F1 driver John Watson said "He did things with the car that I hadn’t even thought about, let alone put in to practice. After witnessing this, I knew that my time as racecar driver was effectively over.”
Ayrton Senna the Rain-master piloting his McLaren.
Source: McLarenF1
Ayrton Senna is and will also be well known for his exceptional driving during wet conditions, winning almost every Grand Prix in those conditions. But he wasn't always a rain-master. He would win every race in the dry, but when it rained, he wasn’t any good. Completely unhappy with his results in the rain, Ayrton would sit at his local karting circuit, just waiting for it to rain. He would spend hours in the wet, often coming home soaking wet. While every other driver wanted shelter in the wet conditions, Ayrton was the first to get out there and drive.

Ayrton Senna - "Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win. And the main motivation is to compete for victory; it's not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it's possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it's impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I'm doing it right."

A famous photograph of Senna getting a lift from Mansell.
Source: formulaonestuff.com
Ayrton Senna has been voted the best driver of all time in various motorsport polls. He was recognized for his qualifying speed over one lap and from 1989 until 2006 held the record for most pole positions. He was also much-admired for his wet weather performances, such as the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. He holds a record six victories at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix, and is the third most successful driver of all time in terms of race wins. Senna courted controversy throughout his career, particularly during his rivalry with Alain Prost. Both the 1989 Championship won by Prost and the 1990 Championship won by Senna were decided by collisions between the pair at those years' Japanese Grands Prix.

Ayrton Senna F1 Statistics:

Ayrton Senna focussed on the job at hand.
Source: RoadandTrack.com

Races Attended
Races Won
Pole Positions
Fastest Laps
3 (1988 1990 1991)

The children who attend the Instituto Ayrton Senna.
Source: Michele Zollini
Ayrton Senna’s greatest accomplishments may have come off the track. It only became clear after his unfortunate death that Senna had been donating millions of his own money to charities for children in his home country. Senna recognized the hardships that many of his countrymen faced and was most concerned about kids and their future.

The legacy of Senna's death is that safety standards in F1 and across numerous other formulas have improved significantly. No driver has lost their life in F1 since Senna's death. Ayrton Senna da Silva exuded something that we have never seen before, and likely never will again. Ayrton Senna da Silva gone to soon!

Special THANKS to Riaz Aziz and Rahiema Hoosain.

No comments:

Post a Comment