He would have been 50-years old today. There is little doubt in my mind that he would still be influential in F1 but probably more so in the lives of young Brazilian children for whom he took particular interest in. His legacy may have been larger than fate has allowed and his impact on the sport more profound but as we look back on this birthday memory of the great Ayrton Senna da Silva; we recognize the man as profound destiny. Not just his own but many after him.
His foundation, Instituto Ayrton Senna, represents a tangible example of his love of children and particularly the low-income families and while it was established after his death, there is little doubt that he would have established a similar foundation had he lived such was his passion for the cause. His charitable heart and love of God was well known and his personal investment in impoverished Brazil, $400m, was enormous.
Like Juan Manuel Fangio and Jim Clark before him, Senna revolutionized the sport. He was a fierce competitor and lover of life. Not without controversy, Senna raced with all the passion and zeal he had for life itself and never recoiled from the task and destiny he felt he was born to have. The on-track battles he had with Alain Prost stirred excitement and accusations that still remain on his record to this day and depending on your perspective, Senna was an aggressive driver who placed cars in positions through sheer brute force, elegance, otherworldly talent and passion. His abilities in a car were often reckoned as not-of-this-world.
Senna had a destiny and oddly, he would impact the destiny of so many others. The children of Brazil, motorsport and the lives of some of the best F1 drivers in modern day. Senna’s record have only been eclipsed by German Michael Schumacher who, not without controversy, has impacted the sport in a similar way. Aggressive driving, passion, otherworldly talent and drive. Equally charitable, Schumacher would list Senna as one of the drivers he respected very much. Upon equaling Senna’s record for wins, Schumacher broke down in tears when asked about how important that was to him. Schumacher exemplified many of the aggressive and ruthless characteristics of Senna but many fans of the Brazilian still place Senna as the greatest of all time irrespective of Schumacher’s records.
“I want to live fully, very intensely. I would never want to live partially, suffering from illness or injury. If I ever happen to have an accident that eventually costs my life, I hope it happens in one instant.” ~Ayrton Senna
Today one need look no further than British sensation Lewis Hamilton to see Senna’s impact on other men’s destinies. The young Brit has a yellow helmet, similar to Senna’s, and has listed the Brazilian legend as his hero. Drivers like Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton and even men who competed against Senna such as Gerhard Berger and Nigel Mansell have all praised the Brazilian hero as one of the all-time greats.
What is your favorite memory of Senna? What recollection do you have on this birthday memory? For me? It may be the two collisions with Prost in 1989 and 1990 as well as the performance in the rain in Monaco in 1984. Is there a special memory you have of the legend that was Senna? Leave it below and help us celebrate his memory on this, his 50th birthday.
Senna’s nephew, Bruno, is now racing in F1 and I wonder if the Uncle would be coaching or removed from the scene. I wonder if Schumacher would have won his first title in 1994 or how things would have been different had Senna not died while leading the race at San Marino. There are many “if’s” but equally there are many “truths” to the legend that is Senna.
Admittedly I was a Prost fan but Senna’s impact on the sport, sheer brilliance and outrageous talent never strayed far from my admiration of the Brazilian. He was massive in scope and talent and there have been few, if any, like him. As an old school fan, I rate Tazio Nuvolari, Jimmy Clark, Fangio and Moss as my all-time greats but Senna and Schumacher are next. Senna was a man like no other and I side with many drivers in saying that there may never be another like him. He was made of different stuff. Of this, I tend to agree.
So join me in posting your memories of Ayrton Senna below and let us recognize the man who has left an indelible mark on the sport of F1. I would love to read your thoughts and memories of Senna.