Motorsports

Published on May 2nd, 2019 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez

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Remembering Aryton Senna 25 years later

Its been 25 years since this racing legend left us and the F1 community still has him in their thoughts. This legendary driver was not only loved on track but also off track and here below is a very well written article from the F1 website.

From : https://www.formula1.com

Ayrton Senna da Silva was born on March 21, 1960, into a wealthy Brazilian family where, with his brother and sister, he enjoyed a privileged upbringing. He never needed to race for money but his deep need for racing began with an infatuation for a miniature go-kart his father gave him when he was four years old. As a boy the highlights of Ayrton’s life were Grand Prix mornings when he awoke trembling with anticipation at the prospect of watching his Formula One heroes in action on television.

At 13 he raced a kart for the first timeand immediately won. Eight years later he went single-seater racing in Britain,where in three years he won five championships, by which time he had divorcedhis young wife and forsaken a future in his father’s businesses in favour ofpursuing success in Formula One racing, where he made his debut with Toleman in1984. At Monaco (a race he would win six times), his sensational second toAlain Prost’s McLaren – in torrential rain – was confirmation of the phenomenaltalent that would take the sport by storm.

No one tried harder or pushed himselffurther, nor did anyone shed so much light on the extremes to which only thegreatest drivers go.

Deciding Toleman’s limited resources wereinadequate for his towering ambition, Senna bought out his contract and in 1985moved to Lotus, where in three seasons he started from pole 16 times (heeventually won a record 65) and won six races. Having reached the limits ofLotus he decided the fastest way forward would be with McLaren, where he wentin 1988 and stayed for six seasons, winning 35 races and three worldchampionships.

In 1988, when McLaren-Honda won 15 of the16 races, Senna beat his team mate Alain Prost eight wins to seven to take hisfirst driving title. Thereafter two of the greatest drivers became protagonistsin one of the most infamous feuds. In 1989 Prost took the title by taking Sennaout at the Suzuka chicane.

In 1990 Senna extracted revenge at Suzuka’sfirst corner, winning his second championship by taking out Prost’s Ferrari atSuzuka’s first corner. Senna’s third title, in 1991, was straightforward as hisdomination as a driver became even more pronounced, as did his obsession withbecoming better still. Some of his greatest performances came in his final yearwith McLaren, following which he moved to Williams for the ill-fated 1994season.

Beyond his driving genius Senna was one ofthe sport’s most compelling personalities. Though slight in stature hepossessed a powerful physical presence, and when he spoke, with his warm browneyes sparkling and his voice quavering with intensity, his eloquence wasspellbinding. Even the most jaded members of the Formula One fraternity weremesmerised by his passionate soliloquies and in his press conferences you couldhear a pin drop as he spoke with such hypnotic effect. His command performanceswere captured by the media and the world at large became aware of Senna’smagnetic appeal.

Everyone marvelled at how he put so much ofhimself, his very soul, into everything he did, not just his driving but intolife itself. Behind the wheel the depth of his commitment was there for all tosee and the thrilling spectacle of Senna on an all-out qualifying lap or arelentless charge through the field evoked an uneasy combination of bothadmiration for his superlative skill and fear for his future.

Ayrton Senna (BRA) Lotus 97T dominated therace in appalling conditions to claim his first Grand Prix victory. PortugueseGrand Prix, Estoril, 21 April 1985.

He drove like a man possessed – somethought by demons. His ruthless ambition provoked condemnation from critics,among them Prost who accused him of caring more about winning than living. WhenSenna revealed he had discovered religion Prost and others suggested he was adangerous madman who thought God was his co-pilot. “Senna is agenius,” Martin Brundle said. “I define genius as just the right sideof imbalance. He is so highly developed to the point that he’s almost over theedge. It’s a close call.”

Even Senna confessed he occasionally wenttoo far, as was the case in qualifying for the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix, where hebecame a passenger on a surreal ride into the unknown. Already on pole, he wentfaster and faster and was eventually over two seconds quicker than Prost in anidentical McLaren. “Suddenly, it frightened me,” Ayrton said,“because I realised I was well beyond my conscious understanding. I droveback slowly to the pits and did not go out anymore that day.”

He said he was acutely aware of his ownmortality and used fear to control the extent of the boundaries he feltcompelled to explore. Indeed, he regarded racing as a metaphor for life and heused driving as a means of self-discovery. “For me, this research isfascinating. Every time I push, I find something more, again and again. Butthere is a contradiction. The same moment that you become the fastest, you areenormously fragile. Because in a split-second, it can be gone. All of it. Thesetwo extremes contribute to knowing yourself, deeper and deeper.”

His self-absorption did not preclude deepfeelings for humanity and he despaired over the world’s ills. He loved childrenand gave millions of his personal fortune (estimated at $400 million when hedied) to help provide a better future for the underprivileged in Brazil. Earlyin 1994 he spoke about his own future. “I want to live fully, veryintensely. I would never want to live partially, suffering from illness orinjury. If I ever happen to have an accident that eventually costs my life, Ihope it happens in one instant.”

And so it did, on May 1, 1994, in the San Marino Grand Prix, where his race-leading Williams inexplicably speared off the Imola track and hit the concrete wall at Tamburello corner. Millions saw it happen on television, the world mourned his passing and his state funeral in Sao Paulo was attended by many members of the shocked Formula One community. Among the several drivers escorting the coffin was Alain Prost. Among the sad mourners was Frank Williams, who said: “Ayrton was no ordinary person. He was actually a greater man out of the car than in it.”

Text – Gerald Donaldson


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