Truth be told, I don’t think we will ever ‘forget’ Senna. For a man whose influence continuously lives on despite his passing 20 years ago. A man whose presence captured the hearts of racing fans around the world.
There was a vulnerability and openness about him when he spoke. You’d really know and see how he was feeling. He wouldn’t avoid a question, he’d give a straight forward to-the-point answer of his real opinion. If he was annoyed, he’d tell you. If he was angry, you’d know. If he was upset, you’d see.
He had a desire, a dream, a vision and a determination that not many could match. He was ruthless and had the win at all costs mentality, because to him, second just wasn’t good enough.
Every story needs a hero and a villain. But Senna was so powerful because he was both. The aggression and hunger to win often overcame his driving style, but underneath his hard shell – underneath his helmet, was a gentle, compassionate and spiritual man.
His eyes would glimmer when talking about racing, and more-so when talking of his nephew, Bruno. But that was all because he was dedicated to Formula 1, and he devoted his life to it.
There was an instant commitment to driving. One that powered him to three world championships. Perhaps statistics aren’t in his favour against Juan-Manuel Fangio or Michael Schumacher but his career ended whilst in it’s peak, and could have gone on for much longer than it did.
Sadly, Imola 1994 is etched into Formula 1 history for all the wrong reasons. But Senna – Ayrton Senna – is a powerful and provocative name in itself. As the years go on that will never change and Roland Ratzenberger, the rookie who never got to exploit his career, will live in our memories too.
His rivalry with Alain Prost (whom I believe, brought the best out of Senna). The orange and white liveried McLarens – particularly the MP4/4. His yellow helmet with the green and blue stripes are all iconic images that he’s left us.
Portugal 1985, Monaco 1988, Japan 1988, Brazil 1991 and Donnington 1993 are just a handful of examples of Senna at his best. Let the racing do the talking, as they say.
The Brazilian changed the face of Formula 1 and will forever be remembered as the one who set the ultimate standards. The light in his heart made him become a national treasure, but once inside the cockpit, he became a global icon.
Maybe some of us weren’t around to see him race live or in the flesh. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t admire who he was or what he achieved. Senna and his charisma are unforgettable and the mark he left on Formula 1 is far greater than what he could ever have imagined. His legacy is so strong that to this day, fans of all ages repeatedly ask “Ayrton Senna, what if..?”
A hero, an idol, an inspiration.