Ayrton Senna - Arguably the greatest F1 driver ever.

Do you want to post a tribute about your favourite retired drivers, perhaps you want to discuss the rantings of the MIT (men in tweed). They thought they were safer when they retired, perhaps not mumblers!! How about a tribute to those that are not drivers but still in the game?

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Ayrton Senna - Arguably the greatest F1 driver ever.

Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 6:53 pm

Ayrton Senna da Silva

(IPA: [ˈayɛrton ˈsɛnnɐ dɐ ˈsilvɐ]) (March 21, 1960–May 1, 1994), better known as Ayrton Senna, was a Brazilian Formula One triple world champion. He died whilst leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Early life
Senna was born in São Paulo. As the son of a wealthy Brazilian landowner, he quickly developed an interest in motor racing. Encouraged by his father, a racing enthusiast, Senna got behind the wheel of his first kart at the age of four. He entered karting competition at the legal age of 13. Ayrton Senna himself describes his first ever kart race in a documentary that was made in the early 80s. He described how the circuits were made on regular streets and car parking lots. Starting positions were written on pieces of paper, mixed in a helmet and were drawn. The number he drew for his first race was the number 1. He therefore started his first ever race from pole position. The competitors were far more experienced but could not keep up with him on the straights as he was much lighter due to being much younger than they were. He states that they were much better in the corners of course, and eventually someone hit him from behind and he spun off. In 1977, he won the South American Kart Championship, and was runner up several times in the World Championship but never won.

Heading for Europe in 1981, he entered the British Formula Ford 1600 competition, which he won. He also adopted his mother's maiden name, Senna, as da Silva is a very common name in Brazil.

In 1982 Senna won two of the European races - the British and European Formula Ford 2000 Championships.

In 1983, Ayrton saw off the challenges of Martin Brundle in the 1983 British F3 championship with West Surrey Racing, and then went on to win the prestigious and high-profile Macau Grand Prix with Teddy Yip's Theodore Racing Team although this was, in reality, West Surrey Racing running under the Theodore Racing Team banner. Then, after testing with Williams, McLaren, Brabham and Toleman, he managed to secure a seat with the latter in time for the 1984 Formula One season.

Into Formula One

The Toleman team was small in comparison to larger teams of that time such as those of Williams, McLaren, or Brabham. Despite this, the team built a decent car powered by Hart Turbo engines and it would be in this car that Senna's talents soon started to attract notice. He scored his first World Championship point on April 7, 1984 at the South African Grand Prix at Kyalami. Three races and two points later came the high watermark of Senna's debut season when he really impressed at the Monaco GP. Rain had plagued the event come Sunday where he started 13th on the grid, but after the start of the race, he soon was picking his way through the field in the wet on a circuit not known for overtaking in the dry. By Lap 19, he passed second place man (a double, and later triple World Champion) Niki Lauda and soon chased after race leader Alain Prost. However, the rain started lashing harder and on Lap 31 the race was stopped. (This would have unfortunate consequences for Prost. Half points for a win was less than full points for the second place he would have earned (few doubt Senna would have got by him) if the event had continued to two-thirds distance, enough to be counted full race. The extra points would have earned Prost the championship.) It was an impressive first podium for the Brazilian. Two more podium finishes (thirds) would follow at the British GP at Brands Hatch and at the season-closing Portuguese GP at Estoril, ultimately placing Senna ninth in the standings, tied with Nigel Mansell on 13 points.

Lotus years
The next year, Senna joined the Lotus team powered with Renault engines (albeit in a bit of controversy as he had to buy out the remaining year in his Toleman contract) and it was expected that Senna would finally be able to deliver on his promising talent. He partnered Elio De Angelis and drove one of the best Lotus designs for several seasons, the 97T. He scored his first of a record setting 65 pole positions out of 161 races at the season opener in Brazil at the Jacarepaguá Circuit in Rio de Janeiro, only to retire with an electrical problem. However, at the second round raced at the Autódromo do Estoril in Estoril, Portugal on April 21, 1985, he finally scored his first Grand Prix victory, winning from pole position thanks to an impressive display of wet-weather driving in treacherous conditions which even saw second-place man (and later World Champion) Alain Prost spin off into the wall. However, the remainder of his 1985 season was plagued with mechanical failures despite his outright speed and his ability to score pole position after pole position during qualifying. He only managed another win at the Belgian GP at the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps (once again in wet conditions). At the end of 1985, he finished a respectable 4th in the World Championship with 38 points and six podiums (two wins, two seconds and two thirds), as well as snatching seven pole positions. It was during these years that he also established a relationship with Bernie Ecclestone.

British Grand Prix, Brands Hatch 1986. Photo by Peter HannaHis second season with Lotus however was even better, as the Lotus car was developed and proved to be a more reliable, if not consistent package. He started the season on a high finishing second to his fellow countryman Nelson Piquet at their home event, the Brazilian GP at Jacarepaguá in Rio de Janeiro. He then took the World Championship lead for the first time in his career after winning an exciting Spanish GP at the Jerez de la Frontera circuit in which he managed to hold off the menacing Nigel Mansell in his Williams-Honda for the victory by just .014 of a second. He would not last there for long however as the Championship would ultimately become a straight fight between Alain Prost's McLaren-TAG-Porsche and the Williams-Honda duo of Piquet and Mansell; key retirements due to mechanical failures once again befell his chase for the title. Despite this though, Senna still went on a strong charge, taking his second victory of the year at the United States GP at Detroit, and finishing the season fourth (again) with 55 points, 8 pole positions and six podium finishes (four seconds and two thirds). It was at this stage in his career that Senna worked extensively with performance scientist and consultant Dr. Jacques Dallare on physical and mental testing and to improve conditioning.

1987 came with as much promise for better things as it had before. Lotus now had the powerful Honda engines after Renault decided to step out of the sport. After a slow start, Senna won two races in a row: The prestigious Monaco GP (the first of a record breaking six victories at the Principality) and the United States GP at Detroit for the second year in a row, once again taking the World Championship lead. This time, the Lotus-Honda seemed to be more or less on par with the all-conquering Williams-Honda cars once again driven by fellow countryman Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell. But Piquet had an amazing run of consistency throughout the year that Senna was not able to match, and after a spin due to a faulty clutch in the third to last round in Mexico, he was out of the championship hunt, leaving Piquet and teammate Mansell to fight it out for the last two races. Alas, Mansell badly bruised his back in an accident while practicing for the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, which effectively handed the World Championship to Piquet since he would be out of the season-ending race at Australia in Adelaide as well. However, this meant that Senna still had a fighting chance to snatch the runner-up position in the standings if he managed to finish at least third in both remaining races, and he did more than that by finishing second in both Japan and Australia. Unfortunately at Australia, scrutineering found the brake ducts of his Lotus-Honda to be wider than they should legally have been and he was disqualified, bringing his last and ultimately best season with Lotus to a sour end. After the disqualification, he ended third in the Final Standings, with 57 points, 1 pole position, and 6 podium finishes (four seconds, not counting the one in which he was disqualified, and two thirds). However, this season would mark the turning point of his career as throughout the year, Senna began to build a deep relationship with Honda, a relationship which would pay off in big dividends once his contract with Lotus expired at the end of the season and once the McLaren team soon started calling.

McLaren career
In 1988, thanks to the relationship he had built up with Honda throughout the 1987 season with Lotus, and with the approval of McLaren's #1 driver, Alain Prost, Senna joined the McLaren team with then-two-time World Champion Alain Prost as his team mate. The foundation for a fierce competition between Senna and Prost was laid, culminating in a number of dramatic race incidents between the two. The pair won 15 of 16 races in the dominant McLaren MP4/4 in 1988 with Senna coming out on top, although Prost actually scored more points in a year where the FIA limited the number of races you could score points to 11.
Senna driving the McLaren MP4/5 in 1989.The following year their rivalry intensified into battles on the track and a psychological war off it. This searing rivalry was typified by their mesmerising race-long battle for victory in the 1989 German Grand Prix, which Ayrton won. Prost took the championship after the infamous Suzuka chicane incident, where Senna attempted a difficult pass and collided with Prost as the two McLarens interlocked in a spectacular fashion, due to Prost turning in towards the out-of-road Senna. The move was a high risk one on Senna's part and he received much criticism for it afterwards, however it was arguably the only point on the race track in which Senna could pass Prost in the then closing laps. Prost was set to clinch the Driver's title for 1989 if Senna were to not win the race, which was the reasoning for Senna's actions.

Some may say that Prost had the racing line, while others may say that Prost should have let Senna through since Senna was on the inside. In fact, it is true that Prost appeared to actually turn slightly towards Senna prior to the cars locking together and going off the circuit, across the chicane, however Senna was never ahead of Prost to begin with, despite being on the inside. Senna managed to get back to the pits for a new nose cone, rejoined the race, retook the lead and won the race, only to be disqualified for illegally cutting the chicane.

At the Suzuka circuit in 1990, the pole position was located on the right, 'dirty' side of the track. Senna maintained that, before qualifying fastest, he had sought and received assurances from officials that pole position would be on the left, clean side of the track, only to find this decision reversed after he had taken pole. At the start of the race Prost pulled ahead but when attempting to take the first right-handed corner he was hit by Senna. Telemetry showed Senna made no attempt to decelerate as the corner approached. Both drivers were removed from the race, meaning that Senna won the championship.
Senna later admitted that he had decided to "go for it" at the first corner - perhaps as a way of seeking justice for the change to pole position and, perhaps, for the 1989 Suzuka chicane incident. For critics, it was an act of breathtaking cynicism and one for which Senna received much criticism. Some accused him of a "win at all costs" mentality - but for many fans this is difficult to square with some of his other behaviour, such as his refusal to have his team mates contractually bound to give way to him on the track - a tactic exploited by both Prost[citation needed] and Schumacher.

Senna's absolute determination to win manifested itself in dismay at McLaren's inability to challenge Williams in 1992. With Prost signed up by the Grove based squad for 1993 and possessing a veto over Senna joining him, Ayrton considered a sabbatical from F1. He tested for Marlboro Team Penske in the IndyCar World Series, setting swift times and exciting the motoring press. Of course, this test was but a one-off, but the prospect of both Senna and Mansell racing IndyCars in 1993 was a brilliant scenario.

Questions about Senna's intentions for 1993 lingered as he did not have a contract with any team. McLaren covered their bases by signing 1991 IndyCar World Series Champion Michael Andretti and the promising Mika Häkkinen.

McLaren too had contractual issues to solve with Honda having ended their involvement as an engine supplier to F1 teams, McLaren boss Ron Dennis tried to secure a supply of the Renault engines that had powered the dominant Williams car in 1992. When this deal fell through, Dennis secured a supply of Ford engines - but these would be of a lower horspower than those used by the Benetton team; however, they were hopeful they would put in a superior performance to the Benetton team due to "loads of electronic trickery", including advanced traction and suspension control. These electronics were determined to be too effective and banned a year later. (http://www.mclaren.com/historyofmclaren ... ne_90s.php)

Senna tested McLaren's 1993 car and whilst he concluded that the chassis was very good indeed, he knew that the engine would be down on power. Senna declined to sign a contract for the season but agreed to drive on a race-by-race basis for a million US dollars per race.

Senna's start to the 1993 season was spectacular. After finishing a distant second in the opening race in South Africa he drove superbly to win in constantly changing conditions at home in Brazil and in the rain at Donington. The latter is regarded as one of Senna's greatest victories, though Senna himself downplayed it later. He started the race 4th and dropped to 5th on the rundown to the first corner, but was leading before the first lap was completed.

The unexpected success continued with a second place at Spain and a lucky win at Monaco. After Monaco, the 6th race of the season, Senna was leading the championship ahead of arch-rival Prost in the Williams-Renault, and Michael Schumacher. By this time Senna had signed with McLaren to complete the season and was agitating for Ford to supply McLaren with their best engines, saying that McLaren were more likely to give Ford success than the Benetton team were.

Even Senna could not sustain this challenge against unequal odds. As the season progressed Prost asserted the superiority of the Williams-Renault package and took the championship. Senna concluded the season with two fine wins in Japan and Australia. The latter race, in which Senna prevailed with no assistance from the weather, was a fitting end to Senna's tenure with the McLaren team. Next season he would drive for Williams. Senna would never win again, and it would be some years before McLaren would enjoy a Grand Prix victory.

Senna was most renowned for his qualifying skill, a discipline he mastered like none before to produce a record 65 pole positions out of 161 races. This record stood for 12 years after his death, before it was surpassed by Michael Schumacher while qualifying for the 2006 San Marino Grand Prix, his 236th race.

"Magic" Senna, as he was known to his fans, also won the Monaco GP six times, a record which stands today and a tribute to his skills which earned him the title "Master of Monaco".

Ayrton described in detail an odd feeling that he got during his qualifying laps. His experience when qualifying for the 1988 Monaco GP for example he described as being in a tunnel or dream like state:

"...the last qualifying session. I was already on pole, then by half a second and then one second and I just kept going. Suddenly I was nearly two seconds faster than anybody else, including my team mate with the same car. And suddenly I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel. Not only the tunnel under the hotel but the whole circuit was a tunnel. I was just going and going, more and more and more and more. I was way over the limit but still able to find even more.
"Then suddenly something just kicked me. I kind of woke up and realised that I was in a different atmosphere than you normally are. My immediate reaction was to back off, slow down. I drove slowly back to the pits and I didn't want to go out any more that day. It frightened me because I was well beyond my conscious understanding. It happens rarely but I keep these experiences very much alive inside me because it is something that is important for self-preservation."
In that session, lap after lap he broke his own pole position time, until he felt ill at ease, backed off and returned to the pits.

During the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix ten year anniversary remembrance of Ayrton Senna in a series of interviews, Gerhard Berger, Senna's team mate at McLaren from 1990-1992 and a very close friend, expressed a memory of what it was like qualifying with Senna:

"I remember one weekend in Imola where I went out, I set the time. He went out, he was a bit quicker. I went out, I was quicker than him. He went out, he was quicker than me, and then it goes forwards, backwards -- ping pong -- until close to the end of the qualifying and it was the last set of tyres, and he was sitting in the racing car, me in my one, and he got out of the racing car, walked over to my one and said, 'Listen, it's gonna get very dangerous now,' and I say 'So what? Let's go!'"
This competition could perhaps be attributed to not only Senna's determination and desire to be first (including qualifying), but Senna and Berger's close friendship and horseplay, as the two were always playing practical jokes on each other in attempt to outdo each other.

Wet weather driving
In F1, wet weather racing is considered to be a great equaliser. Speeds must be reduced and car superiority in power or grip is greatly reduced. The rain demands great driver car control, ability and driving finesse. Senna had some of his best performances in such conditions.

The 1984 season was Senna's first in F1. He came into a field of competitors from whose ranks 16 world championships would be reaped. Participating as a rookie in an uncompetitive car, the Toleman TG184, Senna had racked up three race retirements, a 6th and a 7th place from his first 5 races.

He started the first wet race of the season, the Monaco Grand Prix (a notoriously difficult circuit for racing, as it is run on regular streets) in 13th place. The race was terminated after 31 laps due to monsoon conditions deemed undriveable. At the time the race was stopped, Senna was classified in 2nd place, and catching up to race leader Alain Prost, at 4 seconds per lap. Senna's performance in this race, on a track on which it is notoriously difficult to pass other competitors, should be contrasted with the events of recent races at Monaco in which passing has been the exception rather than the norm, especially in dry conditions.

In 1993, at the European GP at Donington Park, Senna drove for the McLaren team. The MP4/8, although one of the front running cars, was considered inferior to the leading Williams FW15C of Prost and Hill, and the Benetton B193 (which used a factory Ford engine) driven by Michael Schumacher and Riccardo Patrese. Some maintain that the Williams FW14B and FW15C were probably "the most technologically advanced cars that will ever race in Formula One".[1]

Senna started in fourth place on the grid. At the very start, Hill cut across Schumacher's line, causing Schumacher to cut further to the outside across Senna's own line. Wendlinger then passed both Schumacher and Senna on the inside, leaving Senna in fifth and Schumacher in fourth. Senna cut to the inside, having no room to move to the outside as Schumacher came across. Despite being in fifth place at that point, at the end of the first lap he would be first. Having overtaken Schumacher, Wendlinger, Hill and Prost. Examples of wet weather car control such as this gained Senna the title "The Rain Master" in numerous F1 publications in the early 90's. An account of the European Grand Prix, including a video of Senna's spectacular opening lap, can be found here.

Starkly contrasting to Senna's intense and unyielding will to win on the track, his exploits off it were humane and compassionate. He was renowned for his close relationship with Gerhard Berger, and the two were always playing practical jokes on each other.

In 1992 at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium when during Friday free practice Érik Comas had crashed heavily on the back straight other drivers drove past the wreckage at high speed. Senna could be seen jumping out of his car and while endangering his own life, sprinting down the track to the wrecked car to reach inside and hit the electrics kill switch, to prevent a possible fire.

In 1993 again at Spa-Francorchamps when Alessandro Zanardi crashed his Lotus heavily at Eau Rouge corner, Senna could again be seen jumping out of his car to help the injured driver.

After Senna's death it was discovered that he had donated millions of dollars of his personal fortune (estimated at $400 million at the time of his death)[2] to children's charities, a fact that during his life he had kept secret.

Senna's personal sponsor associated with him through his career was NACIONAL, a now defunct Brazilian Insurance and Banking Co.
He was found by the late racing enthusiast Teddy Yip, the founder of Macau Grand Prix and owner of then Theodore Racing Team.

Notable quotes
"On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, 'Okay, this is the limit'. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high."
"One particular thing that Formula-1 can provide you, is that you know you're always exposed to danger. Danger of getting hurt, danger of dying. This is part of your life, and you either face it in a professional, in a cool manner, or you just drop it, just leave it and don't do it anymore really. And I happen to like too much what I do to just drop it, I can't drop it."
"Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose."
"Racing, competing, it's in my blood. It's part of me, it's part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else."
"There are no small accidents on this circuit." - talking about the Imola circuit before the fatal 1994 race.
"It's going to be a season with lots of accidents, and I'll risk saying that we'll be lucky if something really serious doesn't happen." - pre-season 1994.
"I continuously go further and further learning about my own limitations, my body limitation, psychological limitations. It's a way of life for me."
"Of course there are moments that you wonder how long you should be doing it because there are other aspects which are not nice, of this lifestyle. But I just love winning."
"My car quit so I parked it." (after retiring from the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix)
"If you have a target in your life, a real target, doesn´t matter if you are very poor or rich people, if you work hard and believe in God, you can get the success, success in the life."

Death of Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna's Fatal Accident in San MarinoIn 1994, Senna left the ailing McLaren team for the top F1 team at the time, Williams-Renault. After the banning of active suspension, traction control and ABS Williams started the season trying to close the gap to Benetton. Senna failed to finish his first two races at Interlagos and Aida, despite taking two superb pole positions against the Benetton at both events. These pole positions were especially noteworthy considering the fact that the Williams was especially ill-handling at the start of 1994 as observed by other F1 racers, having seen to be very loose at the rear. Senna himself had made numerous (politically careful) comments that the FW-16 had some quirks which needed to be ironed out. It was obvious that the FW-16, after the regulation changes banning active suspension and traction control, exhibited none of the superiority of the FW-15c and FW-14b that had preceded it. On May 1 1994, he took part in his third race for the team, the San Marino Grand Prix at the Imola circuit. Although he would not finish it, Senna started his last race from pole position.

That weekend, he was particularly upset by two events. On the Friday, during the afternoon qualifying session, Senna's protégé, the then newcomer Rubens Barrichello, was involved in a serious accident that prevented him from competing in the race. Senna visited Barrichello in the hospital (he jumped the wall at the back of the facility after being barred from visitation by the doctors) and was convinced that safety standards had to be reviewed. On Saturday, the death of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger in practice forced Senna's safety concerns and caused Senna to consider retiring. Ironically, he spent his final morning meeting fellow drivers, determined by Ratzenberger's accident to take on a new responsibility to re-create a Driver's Safety group to increase safety in Formula One. As the most senior driver, he was offered the role of leader in this effort.

"Tamburello" corner in 1994On Sunday, Pedro Lamy and J. J. Lehto were involved in a starting-line accident. Track officials deployed the safety car to slow down the field and allow the debris from the starting accident to be removed. The cars proceeded under the safety car for 6 laps. On lap 7, from the onboard camera of Michael Schumachers Benetton, Senna's car was seen to break traction twice at the rear and go off the track at Tamburello corner and struck an unprotected concrete barrier. Telemetry shows he left the track at 310 km/h (193 mph) and was able to slow the car down to 218 km/h (135 mph) in less than two seconds before hitting the wall.
After Senna's car came to a halt, he remained motionless in the cockpit. Although the car had suffered a high speed impact with the wall, the accident did not have the typical hallmark of an especially devastating racing crash. The car simply seemed to impact the wall at a shallow angle, tearing off the right front wheel and nosecone. It was immediately evident that Senna had suffered some sort of injury because of the manner in which his helmet was seen to be motionless and leaning very slightly to the side. In the seconds that followed his head was seen to move to one side slightly causing false hopes to be raised. A long time seemed to go by before medical units came to his aid, with fire marshalls having arrived at the car and unable to touch Senna before qualified medical personnell arrived. Television coverage from an overhead helicopter that seemed to linger callously overhead was seen around the world, as rescue workers gave medical attention. Close inspection of the area in which the medical staff treated Senna revealed a considerable amount of blood on the ground. During this time a miscommunication in the pits caused a Larrousse F1 car piloted by Erik Comas to leave the pit lane and attempt to rejoin the now red flagged Grand Prix. Frantic waving by the marshalls at Senna's crash site prevented the Larousse from risking a collision with the medical helicopter that had landed on the track. Professor Sidney Watkins, a world-renowned neurosurgeon and Formula One Safety Delegate and Medical Delegate, head of the Formula One on-track medical team, who performed an on site tracheotomy on Ayrton Senna, reported:

"He looked serene. I raised his eyelids and it was clear from his pupils that he had a massive brain injury. We lifted him from the cockpit and laid him on the ground. As we did, he sighed and, although I am totally agnostic, I felt his soul departed at that moment."

Senna was only 34 years old. Senna's injuries were caused by the front right tire with attached suspension piece, which became loose on impact, hit Senna on the head and pierced his visor, and caused a fatal cranial trauma. Images of Senna's battered helmet show a puncture occurred at the top of the visor, just over his right eye. This led to the now most commonly accepted theory that one of the car's suspension bars had come loose and impacted with Senna's head.

The FIA and Italian authorities still maintain that Senna was not killed instantly, but rather died in hospital, to where he had been rushed by helicopter after an emergency tracheotomy and IV administration were performed on track. There is an ongoing debate as to why Senna was not declared dead at the track. Under Italian law when a person dies at a sporting event, that death must be investigated, causing the sporting event to be cancelled. The Director of the Oporto (Portugal) Legal Medicine Institute, Professor Pinto da Costa, has stated the following:

"From the ethical viewpoint, the procedure used for Ayrton's body was wrong. It involved dysthanasia, which means that a person has been kept alive improperly after biological death has taken place due to brain injuries so serious that the patient would never have been able to remain alive without mechanical means of support. There would have been no prospect of normal life and relationships. Whether or not Ayrton was removed from the car while his heart was beating or whether his supply of blood had halted or was still flowing, is irrelevant to the determination of when he died.
The autopsy showed that the crash caused multiple fractures at the base of the cranium, crushing the forehead and rupturing the temporal artery with haemorrhage in the respiratory passages. It is possible to resuscitate a dead person immediately after the heart stops through cardio-respiratory processes. The procedure is known as putting the patient on the machine. From the medical-legal viewpoint, in Ayrton's case, there is a subtle point: resuscitation measures were implemented.
From the ethical point of view this might well be condemned because the measures were not intended to be of strictly medical benefit to the patient but rather because they suited the commercial interest of the organisation. Resuscitation did in fact take place, with the tracheotomy performed, while the activity of the heart was restored with the assistance of cardio-respiratory devices. The attitude in question was certainly controversial. Any physician would know there was no possibility whatsoever of successfully restoring life in the condition in which Senna had been found."
Professor Jose Pratas Vital, Director of the Egas Moniz hospital in Lisbon, a neurosurgeon and Head of the Medical Staff at the Portuguese GP, offers a different opinion:

"The people who conducted the autopsy stated that, on the evidence of his injuries, Senna was dead. They could not say that. He had injuries which lead to his death, but at that point the heart may still have been functioning. Medical personnel attending an injured person, and who perceive that the heart is still beating, have only two courses of action: One is to ensure that the patient's respiratory passages remain free, which means that he can breathe. They had to carry out an emergency tracheotomy. With oxygen, and the heart beating, there is another concern, which is loss of blood. These are the steps to be followed in any case involving serious injury, whether on the street or on a racetrack. The rescue team can think of nothing else at that moment except to assist the patient, particularly by immobilising the cervical area. Then the injured person must be taken immediately to the intensive care unit of the nearest hospital".
Rogério Morais Martins Micropower states that:

"According to the first clinical bulletin read by Dr. Maria Teresa Fiandri at 4.30 p.m. Ayrton Senna had brain damage with haemorrhaged shock and deep coma. However, the medical staff did not note any chest or abdomen wound. The haemorrhage was due to the rupture of the temporal artery. The neurosurgeon who examined Ayrton Senna at the hospital mentioned that the circumstances did not call for surgery because the wound was generalised in the cranium. At 6.05 p.m. Dr. Fiandri read another communiqué, her voice shaking, announcing that Senna was dead. At that stage he was still connected to the equipment that maintained his heartbeat.
The release by the Italian authorities of the results of Ayrton Senna's autopsy, revealing that the driver had died instantaneously during the race at Imola, ignited still more controversy. Now there were questions about the reactions of the race director and the medical authorities. Although spokespersons for the hospital had stated that Senna was still breathing on arrival in Bologna, the autopsy on Ratzenberger [who died the day before] indicated that death had been instantaneous. Under Italian law, a death within the confines of the circuit would have required the cancellation of the entire race meeting.
That in turn, would have prevented the death of Ayrton Senna.
The relevant Italian legislation stipulates that when a death takes place during a sporting event, it should be immediately halted and the area sealed off for examination. In the case of Ratzenberger, this would have meant the cancellation of both Saturday's qualifying session and the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.
Medical experts are unable to state whether or not Ayrton Senna died instantaneously. Nevertheless, they were well aware that his chances of survival were slight. Had he remained alive, the brain damage would have left him severely handicapped. Accidents such as this are almost always fatal, with survivors suffering irreversible brain damage. This is due to the effects on the brain of sudden deceleration, which causes structural damage to the brain tissues. Estimates of the forces involved in Ayrton's accident suggest a rate of deceleration equivalent to a 30 metre vertical drop, landing head-first. Evidence offered at the autopsy revealed that the impact of this 208 km/h crash caused multiple injuries at the base of the cranium, resulting in respiratory insufficiency.
There was crushing of the brain (which was forced against the wall of the cranium causing oedema and haemorrhage, increasing intra-cranial pressure and causing brain death), together with the rupture of the temporal artery, haemorrhage in the respiratory passages and the consequent heart failure.
There are two opposing theories on the issue of whether the drivers were still alive when they were put in the helicopters that carried them to hospital. Assuming both Ratzenberger and Senna had died instantaneously, the race organisers might have delayed any announcement in order to avoid being forced to cancel the meeting, thus protecting their financial interests.
Had the meeting been cancelled, Sagis - the organisation which administers the Imola circuit - stood to lose an estimated US$6.5 million."
The FIA dismisses that conception as an unfounded conspiracy theory.

Changes of the circuitThe FIA immediately investigated the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, and the track's signature Tamburello turn, was changed into a left-right chicane.

In 2000, Senna was posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.


From the Motorsports Hall of Fame

Although his life was taken in a crash at the zenith of his career, Brazilian Ayrton Senna was nonetheless considered to be one of the greatest drivers of all time. The 34-year old native of Sao Paulo left a legacy of success unmatched by most who enjoyed full careers.

Senna was born in Sao Paulo on March 21, 1960. He began his career in kart racing as a youngster, but quickly raced his way thru the ranks to a Formula 1 ride in 1984, winning championships at almost every level along the way.

On the Grand Prix circuit for only a decade, Senna posted some incredible numbers, many of which still remain records. In half a normal career, he won three world championships, set a record with 65 pole positions, led a record 3,024 laps and won 41 races, second only to the 51 victories of Main Prost.

Senna won the Formula Ford championship in 1981, his initial season on that circuit, then moved up to Formula Ford 2000 series in 1982, and won that title as well. He beat Martin Brundle for the Formula 3 title in 1983, then moved to Formula 1 the next year, driving for the British team of Toleman Hart.

Switching to Lotus in 1983, Senna gained his first win, in the rain in Portugal. In 1987, still driving for Lotus, Senna began a relationship with Honda, and when the Japanese automaker switched to McLaren in 1988, Senna cast his lot with them. Over the next six years, Senna would dominate Formula 1 in Honda-powered McLarens.

From 1988 through 1993, Senna posted 37 of his 41 career wins, sped to 46 of his 65 career poles, and won all three of his world championships. During the span, his battles with Prost were legendary. As teammates in 1989, Prost and Senna dueled into the last race of the season. Prost, refusing to yield when Senna attempted to pass, took out both cars and won the title. The very next year, on competing teams, the duo again raced for the title in the season's last race. This time, it was Senna who took out Prost and claimed the title.

Ayrton Senna's success has been attributed to his obsessive desire to win, his attention to detail and his analytical mind that functioned like a computer when he was driving, allowing him to get everything there was to get out of his race car.

Ayrton Senna - by Alain Prost


"Honestly, it's very difficult for me to talk about Ayrton, and not only because he's not here any more. He was so different, you know, so completely different from any other racing driver - any other person - I've ever known..."

Speaking now, more than four years after the death of Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost is in an invidious position, for while the two are linked for ever, indisputably the best drivers of their generation, so also each was very much the other's nemesis. That being the case, in discussing Senna, Prost cannot win, and Prost knows it. Come out with only kind words, and some will say that he sang a very different tune when Ayrton was alive; go the other way, and they will vilify him for daring to criticise a defenceless icon.

"That's why I have always refused to speak about him," says Prost. "When he died, I said, that I felt a part of me had died also, because our careers had been so bound together. And I really meant it, but I know some people thought it was not sincere. Well, all I can do is try to be as honest as possible."

From the very beginning of Ayrton Senna's Formula One career, back in 1984, his sights were set squarely on Prost. In a way it was inevitable, for Ayrton was a man of extraordinary intensity, one who needed to prove himself the best in all things, and at that time Alain was very much the king of the hill. It was their very first meeting that was to set the tone of their relationships down the years.

"I remember it very well. In the spring of 1984, the new Nürburgring was opened, and there was a celebrity race for Grand Prix drivers of the past and present, in Mercedes road cars. I was coming from Geneva to Frankfurt on a scheduled flight, and Ayrton was due to land half an hour before, so Gerd Kremer of Mercedes asked me if I would bring him to the track. On the way we chatted, and he was very pleasant. Then we got to the track, and practised the cars. I was on pole, with Ayrton second - after that he didn't talk to me any more! It seemed funny at the time. Then in the race, I took the lead - and he pushed me off the track after half a lap. So that was a good start..."

That year, 1984, was Senna's first in F1, and his Toleman-Hart was not on par with the front runners. At Monaco, though, there was rain, and when the race was abandoned, shortly before half-distance, the rookie was right on the point of passing Prost's McLaren for the lead.

"From the beginning, he looked good, although you can't always tell for sure when a guy is with a small team. He drove a great race at Monaco, but in those days - when monocoques were far less stiff than now - it was quite possible to have a poor car in the dry turn out to be very good in the wet. Of course we all rated him, but with the reservation that sometimes a young driver looks quite good, but then joins a top team, and looks ordinary. There's always some doubt until the guy gets into a quick car. With Ayrton, though, it was pretty clear he had a special talent."

"Something else people should remember is that, 15 years ago, there were a lot more very good drivers in F1 than there are now. For sure Ayrton did well from the beginning, but he showed nothing that was truly exceptional before Monaco. Monaco was the thing: after that everyone discovered him, and talked about him. Without that, it might have taken a little longer, but the impressive thing, as I say, was that he looked so good at a time when there were so many top drivers..."

Senna was also, from the start no respecter of reputations, and that upset many an established star. After a single season with Toleman, he joined Lotus-Renault for 1985, brilliantly won the Portuguese Grand Prix (again in the rain), and was a front runner everywhere. But at Hockenheim, for example, he made a mistake at the Ostkurve, and when Michele Alboreto went to pass, Ayrton swerved left and right to keep him back. Back then such tactics were not embraced by the F1 community.

"Hmmm, yes, Senna was very tough in that way, from the start. Actually, one thing I really believe now is that it wasn't so much a matter of being that tough as having his own rules. He had them, he believed in them, and that was it."

"He was extremely religious, and he used to go on about that, about speaking the truth, about his education, his upbringing, and everything else. At the time, I used to think that some of the things he did on the track didn't fit with all that, but now it seems to me he really didn't know he was sometimes in the wrong. As I said, he had these rules, he played by them, and he wasn't interested in anything else. Looking back, I really think he believed he was always in the right, always telling the truth - and on the track he was exactly the same way."

It was not, however, until Senna became Prost's team-mate, in 1988, that there were any problems between them. The year before, Lotus had used Honda engines, and Ayrton had established a deep relationship with the Japanese engineers. As he came to McLaren, so also did Honda. And one team insider puts it this way: "I tended to think of Prost as a McLaren driver with a Honda engine, and Senna as a Honda driver with a McLaren chassis."

"Yes, I think that was a good way of putting it. My biggest problem was that I really loved McLaren, and wanted to do everything I could for the team. For my team-mate in '88, it was a choice between Senna and Nelson Piquet. When I went with Ron (Dennis) to Japan, to meet the Honda people, I said that Ron should take Ayrton, because he was the more talented driver, and for me the team came first. If I was going back to the start of my racing career now, I would do it rather differently - I would concentrate on me and my job..."

"In fact, I could have said no to Ayrton coming to McLaren. One strength I have is that normally when I make a decision, I don't regret it, but, from my own point of view, on that occasion I definitely made a mistake!"

In the very first pre-season test the did together, in Rio, Prost saw that Senna was emphatically not doing this for the fun of it. "We were tyre-testing, just using one car. I did the first run, and he was then due to take it over. I came into the pits, and the mechanics began to change the wheels. I could see Ayrton there, helmet on, pacing around, waiting for me to get out, so I decided to stay in the car just a little longer. And he got furious, telling everyone, 'It's not fair, it's not fair!' Then I got out, and I was laughing. He was not...

"Actually, though, our working relationship through that first season was pretty good. The only problem was at Estoril, at the end of the first lap."

It was a moment which will never be forgotten by anyone there to witness it. Down the pit straight Prost slipstreamed Senna, then ducked right to go by, whereupon Ayrton swerved towards him, putting him maybe six inches from the pit wall. Alain didn't lift, and emerged into a lead which he would keep to the end, but afterwards he made his feelings plain.

"That move in Estoril was very dangerous, and, yes, I was angry afterwards. I was right against the pit wall, and I really thought we were going to touch, and have a big crash - with the whole pack right behind us. I didn't like it at all, and told him so, but, in a way, I can't blame him for doing it, because he did always get away with it. How many times in his Formula One career was Ayrton sanctioned for that kind of thing? Never."

"Still, apart from that, the first year wasn't too bad. On a few occasions he was quite tough and uncompromising with me, but we didn't really have any other problems. And, in fact, he did apologise to me for what happened in Portugal."

The pair had a staggering season in 1988, Prost scoring more points (105, from seven wins and seven seconds) than Senna (94, from eight wins, and three seconds), but Ayrton claiming the driver's championship, 90 points to 87, by virtue of the '11 best scores' rule which applied at the time.

"At the end of '88 I was very pleased for the team - we were first and second in the championship, and I really wasn't too upset that he won the title; I'd won it twice already by then, it wasn't a problem."

"For '89, though, I was worried about Honda. And I think my biggest problem was that I never had the relationship with them that Ayrton did. From the beginning, it was something I never felt I had under control. I wouldn't have cared very much if they'd simply preferred one driver in the team - but the way they handled the situation was very difficult for me, because Senna and I had very different driving styles."

"I never understood why Honda took his side so much. It wasn't that I thought it was a question of the Brazilian sales marked or the French market, or anything like that. It was more a human thing. I worked with Honda again last year - now as a team owner - and it struck me again: I think the Japanese just work differently. In a team, they always favour someone over the rest. I've heard it said about their motorcycle teams as well."

"Let me give you an example. At one point in '88, the last year we were allowed to run turbos, I asked for some specific changes to the engine to suit my driving style and we worked on it for two days at Paul Ricard. At the end of that test I was very happy - but at the next race, one week later, they never put that strategy on my engine."

"Then we went to the French Grand Prix - at Ricard - and suddenly the engine was just as I had wanted! You understand what I'm saying? Ayrton and I raced for two seasons together in the McLaren-Hondas, and at both the French Grands Prix I was on pole position and won the race. Everyone said, 'Oh look, it's Prost in front of his home crowd', and that sort of thing. It was nothing like that; it was just that at those races I had something which enabled me to fight..."

"Understand me, this is nothing against Ayrton, OK? Ayrton was very quick, and in qualifying he was much better than me - much more committed, just as I think I was when I was the younger driver in the team, against Niki (Lauda)."

"Anyway, before the 1989 season I had dinner at the golf club in Geneva with Honda's then chairman, Mr Kawamoto and four other people. And he admitted that I was right in believing that Honda was more for Ayrton than for me."

"He said, 'You want to know why we push Senna so much? Well, I can't be 100 per cent sure.' But one thing he did let me know was that the new generation of engineers working on the engines were in favour of Ayrton, because he was more the samurai, and I was more the computer."

"So, that was an explanation, and I was very happy afterwards, because then at least I knew very well that something was not correct. Part of my problem had been that Ayrton was so bloody quick, it wasn't easy to know how much was that, and how much was Honda helping him. So after this dinner with Mr Kawamoto, I thought, 'Well, at least I'm not stupid - something really was going on, and now I know the situation.'"

Whatever, the situation was not to improve. Quite the opposite, in fact. In 1989, the fragile relationship between Prost and Senna broke apart utterly, and that existing between Alain and McLaren was not a lot better.

"Until then, I never had a problem with anyone at McLaren, but '89 was different. My contract was due to expire at the end of the year, but Ayrton's was not. Ron knew the future of his team was with Honda - and therefore with Senna. He tried hard to persuade me to stay, but in reality he couldn't keep both of us, and I told him in July that I would be leaving at the end of the season. In my opinion, he was not fair with me in '89. We're still very good friends, and, despite everything, I still even now think of McLaren as my team. But Ron knows my feelings about that period."

"At the time, I was completely disillusioned. After everything I'd done with the team, and for the team, I didn't think I should have been treated like that. But at the end of the day, you know, Ron was trying to push his company to the front, and of course I can understand that a little."

It was at Imola that the most bitter feud in motor-racing history took seed. Senna and Prost, as usual, qualified 1-2, a second and a half clear of the rest, and Ayrton suggested that they not jeopardise their prospects by fighting at the first corner, Tosa, on the opening lap: whomsoever got there first would keep the lead. Alain agreed. At the start, Senna led away, and at Tosa Prost duly fell in behind him.

Then, however, the race was stopped, when Gerhard Berger had a serious accident. On the restart, it was Prost who got ahead - but at Tosa Senna snicked by into the lead.

"Afterwards, he argued that it wasn't the start - it was the restart, so the agreement didn't apply. As I said, he had his own rules, and sometimes they were very... well let's say strange. It had been Ayrton's idea, in the first place, and I didn't have a problem with it. Afterwards, though, I said it was finished; I'd continue to work with him, in technical matters, but as far as our personal relationship was concerned, that was it. And the atmosphere in the team became very bad, of course."

"By the time we got to Monza, I was ahead of him in the championship, by about 10 points. But that race. was the real low point between McLaren and me. Senna had two cars, with 20 people around him, and I had just one car, with maybe four or five mechanics working for me. I was absolutely alone, in one part of the garage, and that was perhaps the toughest weekend of my racing career. Honda was really hard against me by then, and it was difficult trying to fight for the championship in that situation. In practice, Ayrton was nearly two seconds quicker than me - OK, as I said, he was certainly a better qualifier than I was, but two seconds? That was a joke."

In the race though, Senna retired, and Prost won; by the time they headed off to Suzuka and Adelaide, the last two races of the 1989 season, Alain led by 16 points. By now McLaren-Honda essentially worked as two different teams, which happened to operate out of the same pit. Once again, the two red and white cars were in front row, both its drivers in defiant mood, Senna knowing he had to win, Prost making it clear he'd be no pushover.

"I told both the team and the press, 'There's no way I'm going to open the door to him any more.' We talked very often, you should know, about the first corner, the first lap, and Ron always said the important thing was that we shouldn't hit each other, we should think of the team. Well, as far as I was concerned, Senna thought about himself, and that was it. For example, at the start of the British Grand Prix that year, going into Copse, if I hadn't moved three or four metres out of the way we'd have hit each other, and both McLarens would have been out immediately. That sort of thing had happened too often; I had had enough."

"As for the accident between us at the chicane, yes, I know everybody thinks I did it on purpose. What I say is that I did not open the door, and that's it. I didn't want to finish the race like that - I'd led from the start, and I wanted to win it."

"I had a good car; I'd been very bad in qualifying, compared with Ayrton, and I concentrated entirely on the race. In the warm-up I was nearly a second quicker than him, and for the race itself I was quite confident, even when he started catching me."

"I didn't want him too close, obviously, but I wanted him close enough that he would hurt his tyres; my plan was then to pus hard over the last ten laps. As it was he tried to pass - and for me the way he did it was impossible, because he was going so much quicker than usual into the braking area."

"I couldn't believe he tried it on that lap, because, as we came up to the chicane, he was so far back. When you look in your mirrors, and a guy is 20 metres behind you, it's impossible to judge, and I didn't even realise he was trying to overtake me. But at the same time I thought, 'There's no way I'm going to leave him even a one-metre gap. No way'. I came off the throttle braked - and turned in."

A year later the two were back at Suzuka, once again to settle the World Championship, and this time it was Alain who had to win. Although no longer in the same team, he and Ayrton had not in any way diluted the intensity of their strife. Prost, said Senna, had better not try to turn into the first corner ahead of him: 'If he does, he's not going to make it...' In the event, at 150mph, the McLaren ran into the back of the Ferrari.

"Well, what can you say about that? After I'd retired we talked about it, and he admitted to me - as he did to the press - that he'd done it on purpose. He explained to me why he did it. He was furious with (FIA President) Balestre for not agreeing to change the grid, so that he could start on the left, and he told me he had decided that if I got to the first corner ahead of him, he'd push me off."

"What happened in Japan in '90 is something I will never forget, because it wasn't only Ayrton who was involved. Some of the people at McLaren, a lot of officials - and a lot of media - agreed with what he'd done, and that I couldn't accept. Honestly I almost retired after that race."

"As I always said, you know, he didn't want to beat me, metaphorically he wanted to destroy me - that was his motivation from the first day. Even in that Mercedes touring car race, back in '84, I realised that he wasn't interested in beating Alan Jones or Keke Rosberg or anyone else - it was me, just me, for some reason."

Right to the end of Prost's career as a driver, that situation never changed. But on the podium in Adelaide in 1993, Alain's last race, the two embraced, and it was as if, now that Alain was no longer a rival, Ayrton saw no reason for any more hostility. Prost was surprised by the gesture.

"Yes, I was - and also a little bit disappointed, to be honest. This will tell you something about Ayrton. In Japan, the race before, he won, and I was second. As we walked from the podium to the press conference, I said to him, 'This may be the last race where we are at a press conference together, and I think we should show the people something nice - maybe shake hands, or something.' He didn't answer me, but he didn't say no, either, so I thought maybe he agreed. We went to the press conference - and he wouldn't even look at me."

"In fact, I'd even thought maybe in Australia we could exchange helmets, the last helmets we'd worn in a race against each other - but after Japan, I forgot about it, because he hadn't seemed interested in any sort of reconciliation."

"Then we went to Adelaide, and finished first and second again. On our way to the podium afterwards, already he was starting to talk a little bit, and he said to me, 'What are you going to do now?' I was very surprised! 'I don't know yet', I said. 'You're going to be fat,' he sad, and he smiled. Then on the podium he put his arm round me, shook hands, and everything. Why? Because now it was his idea, and it was on his terms. OK, in any case, that was nice. But that was Ayrton - if it was his idea, fine; if not, forget it."

Later Senna would admit to a close friend that only after Prost's retirement had he come fully to realise how much of his motivation had come from fighting with this one rival. Only a couple of days before his death, filming an in-car lap of Imola for Elf, he amazed everyone with a spontaneous greeting: 'I'd like to welcome back my friend Alain - we all miss you...' Prost was touched by that.

"In fact, after I'd retired we spoke quite often on the telephone. He called me several times, usually to talk about safety; he wanted me to keep involved with that, and we had agreed to talk about it at Imola. That weekend he was talking, talking, talking, about safety, and he was much softer than before - for me, he changed completely in '94. He seemed to me very down somehow, without the same power as before."

"We had this conversation on the Friday, and I saw him again on the Sunday morning - after Roland Ratzenberger's fatal accident, of course. I was with a lot of people at the Renault motorhome at the time. You know how Ayrton usually was - he'd go from the garage straight to the motorhome, but that morning I was very surprised, because he came into the middle of all these people, which he would never normally do, just to get to me. We had a chat, and he was trying really had to be nice, to be friendly."

"Then I saw him in the garage briefly. I didn't want to disturb him, but I knew he wanted help, that he needed somebody. That was obvious. We were going to speak again the following week..."

Senna's funeral took place in Sao Paulo, four days later, and Prost was one of many drivers in attendance. It was not a particularly difficult decision to take, he said, except in one respect.

"I knew I wanted to go, but Ayrton and I had such a history for so long that I didn't really know how the Brazilian people would perceive it: would they be upset if I went, upset if I didn't go, or what? The day after the accident, I was in Paris, and a good friend of Jean-Luc Lagadere (the chairman of Matra) called me. His wife was Brazilian, and I asked his advice. 'I have my ticket ready', I said, 'but what do you think I should do?' He told me I should definitely go, that the Brazilian people would like that. I didn't have to be pushed - I already wanted to go - but he convinced me. And I know now that if I hadn't gone, I would have regretted it for the rest of my life."

"There was no hostility towards me in Sao Paulo at all - the very opposite, in fact. I'm still in contact with Ayrton's family all the time; the day after the funeral, his father invited me to his farm, and we talked for a long time. And I see his sister very often, do what I can to help with the foundation."

"Ayrton was certainly the best driver I ever raced against, by a long, long way. He was, by far, the most committed driver I ever saw. To be honest, I think maybe the best race driver - in terms of really applying intelligence - was Niki, but overall Ayrton was the best, by far. He was very successful in everything that mattered to him, everything that he set out to achieve for himself."

"Actually, I think it's not impossible that in time we might have become friends. We shared an awful lot, after all, and one thing never changed - even when our relationship was at its worst - was our great respect for each other as drivers. I don't think either of us worried too much about anyone else. And there were those times we did have fun together, you know. Not very often, but..."

"He was just strange, you know. In 1988, I remember, we had to go to the Geneva Motor Show for Honda; it's only 40 kilometres from my house, so I asked him to come over for lunch first, and then we'd drive there together. He came to my house - and slept for two hours! Hardly spoke at all."

"Then, after lunch, we went for a walk, and I still remember our conversation clearly. I liked to talk to him: sometimes it could be boring if he was going on about something, but usually it was fascinating. Yes, I think maybe we could have become friends eventually. Once we were not rivals any more everything changed."

"I look back on those days now and think to myself, 'Jesus, what was that all about? Why did we put ourselves through all of that?' Sometimes it seemed like a bad dream. Maybe because usually we were so much in front, it was inevitable that there would be problems between us, but why did it have to get so venomous - why did we have to live like that? I used to say to people, 'You're a fan of Ayrton Senna? Good, that's fine - but please don't hate me!' It was the same with the press."

"The pressure was so high, so high... If we had to do it all again, I think I'd say to Ayrton, 'Listen, we're the best, we can screw all the others!' With a lot of intelligence, it could have been such good dream. Still, even as it turned out, it was a fantastic story, don't you think? And I think, in a way, we're missing a little of that today."

Alain Prost was talking to Nigel Roebuck

Quick Facts
Nationality Brazilian
Active years 1984 - 1994
Team(s) Toleman Hart, Lotus, McLaren Honda, Williams
Grands Prix 162
Championships 3 (1988, 1990, 1991)
Wins 41
Podium finishes 80
Pole positions 65
Fastest laps 19
First Grand Prix 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix
First win 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix
Last win 1993 Australian Grand Prix
Last Grand Prix 1994 San Marino Grand Prix

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Postby Anj x » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 8:49 pm

Truly the greatest xxx

Thanx for this Mr.Mack x
Anj x

Postby craggle78 » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 9:05 pm

I agree, the best, most committed, charismatic and exciting driver I have had the privilege to see................. and at his best and peak of performance

Being that I was a Nigel Mansell fan I was NEVER Senna's biggest supporter, but ALWAYS appreciated how good he was, and after 92 when Nige had retired I supported him through 93/94 along with Damon Hill. Like everyone else was in total shock and complete disbelief when it was announced he had died, and being only 16 was quite emotional...........one of the saddest days in my life actually(which sounds strange when you type such stuff!)

Excellent thread and a great read........even though we all know most of it already!
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Postby Sharknose » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 9:06 pm

This thread makes me very happy :D
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Postby vikki » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 9:14 pm

certainly the best in my time watching anyway.

i was a williams fan so in many ways senna was the opposition.
but even then you couldnt not help marvel at his ability even if his arrogance/self belief did sometimes wind you up!

and reading that again you are reminded of the charisma which is so sadly lacking in the current generation imo.
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Postby John » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 9:20 pm

He was alright..... as I recall... willing to win at all cost... my kind of Driver.

Williams have carried his SS logo on every F1 car since his death... just inside both of the front wing supports...

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Postby Daniel » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 9:28 pm

Yeah I saw that on the fith gear video posted in the youtube thread, i never knew that.

Sadly I only got into f1 after senna death, so I never really got to see him race, but from what I've read up on him and seen from clips, he was great.
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Postby St. Mackem of Kansas » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 10:36 pm

Being that I was a Nigel Mansell fan I was NEVER Senna's biggest supporter

I was exactly the same way, Senna was annoyingly great!

I saw him from start to finish, and felt numb for the rest of that fateful Sunday.
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Postby stradlin21 » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 10:52 pm

in my opinion

the best f1 driver ever

and easily the best of the last 20 years
Bring me my crown
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Postby John » Tue 02 Jan, 2007 11:03 pm


That has to be the worst image I've seen of the great man............ever :roll:

I much prefer this one..... his first win 1985 :wink:


I still find it hard to believe it is well over a decade ago since he died... I recall it like it was last season.
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