If he had lived, Ayrton Senna would be 52 years old today. However, the legend of Formula 1 passed away at the famous Imola circuit 18 years ago yesterday. The death of a motor racer is not that shocking unfortunately, throughout the history of the sport there have been a large number of fatalities. However, to this day, Ayrton Senna remains the last, and possibly most famous driver to lose his life in the sport of Formula 1.
The career of Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna was born and raised in the Sao Paulo area of Brazil. He showed an early desire for motor sport, and developed this in his younger years. As the route to Formula 1 was in Europe, as a young man Senna moved across the world to compete in the lower rungs of motor sport.
He eventually found his way through to Formula 1, with Lotus providing him with early success. His move to McLaren proved to be his real breakthrough. He performed fearlessly and with unique skill and bravery, although some of his competitors though him reckless.
Ayrton Senna did not win a record number of world titles, but he did compete in an era of great drivers and this this produced rivalries. The French driver Alain Prost was probably the greatest of these, others included Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell and latterly Micheal Schumacher. Of course there were cars that were better than others, and McLaren and Williams were normally top of the bunch. However, in the days where drivers overtook easch other without the aide of electronic devices meant that a formula one race could be real edge of the set stuff.
The Legacy of Ayrton Senna
Anyone who has watched the excellent film ‘Senna’ that was released last year, will have gained an insight into his complex character. You see Senna’s actions in drivers meetings, where he was all to happy to stand up for the rights of the drivers, when others did not have the courage to do so. It could be argued that as a ‘superstar’ of the sport, Senna could cause waves without impunity, however, if you looked closely at his arguments you could see that his interests were for the greater good and not just himself.
He was an advocat of increased driver safety, and his reaction to the death of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger, only one day before his own, showed the feelings he had for his own brothers.
It has been 18 short years since that fateful Sunday at Imola, yet the effect of the death of such an icon of sport can still be seen in Formula 1 today. Safety is paramount, and whilst this may have sanitised the sport, it does mean that Ayrton Senna, perhaps the greatest of them all, is and was the last Formula 1 driver to pass away on a race track.
Perhaps this is Ayrton Senna’s biggest legacy of all. RIP