Ayerton Senna – The Greatest Ever ?

Normal people are people living normal lives. They are your average Joe passing by, not that you notice. They are perfectly alright but it is rather difficult if not impossible for such people to inspire, to evoke sensations, to bring back memories, to make them last forever. The ones that do these things and makes you want to follow them are the demigods among mere mortals. They are more than mere mortals simply because there always will remain a memory that will last forever. These are your HEROES. Today I am going to speak about another one of my heroes (having already spoken before on Richard Feynman).

I speak of Ayerton Senna. I came to know about Ayerton Senna after reading an account of Dr. Sid Watkins – the man who saw Senna die, one of his closest friends. Being a fan of racing and more specifically being a disapprover of the way Michael Schumacher used to dominate F1 in the early years of this millenia. Michael is no doubt one of the great F1 drivers, but he won in an era dominated by technology, not by the drivers. He was a driver from the driver’s era, winning in the age of the technology. Senna was a driver’s driver. He drove with a passion, a passion to win. He won hearts all over the world, in the era dominated by the rally racing. F1 was not as big a sport back then as rallying, quite a contrast to today’s scenario. Senna came from a wealthy family from a poor nation. You would think he must have been a brat. He wasn’t. He did a lot for his country, least of all becoming the single most important representation of his nation in the world.

He was loved and adored in Brazil, not for his driving, the poor didn’t understand much about racing, however what they did understand was the passion that drove this man – the Brazilian spirit. He was a devout man believing firmly in the power of God over his life. I am not much of a religious man, so why is he one of my most profound inspiration ? The answer has nothing to do with winning races or world championships, the reason is determination. Facing another great – Alain Prost, in a field full of greats and future greats – Piquet, Mansell, Alesi, Schumacher among others, he won the world title 3 times, and one time was beaten only by the “dirty” politics played by the then french head of FIA, a close friend of Prost. What impressed me most was how he drove in the rain. Those who have driven cars know how difficult it is to drive fast in the rain and Senna was famous for loving the wet conditions. Senna was great in the dry, but in the wet when all the others were struggling Senna was untouchable. In a way he distinguished himself when the going got tough – in impossible conditions he was a ‘Racing God’.

Another side of Senna that has attracted me immensely is his absolute confidence, devotion and belief to his ideals. He raced to win, a fact he has established so many times on the circuit, be his famous crashes with Alain Prost to his blitzing last minute qualification laps. Its easy for some to say Michael is the greatest since he has won 7 world titles, but many who know the truth will agree, had that fateful afternoon at Imola not taken place, Senna would have dominated the world of F1 for a few years more. Had Tamburello not existed Senna’s greatness would be beyond doubt. As its was, San Marino’94 did take place and Tamburello was very real. He left, not only as a racing driver racing at nearly 300 mph, but as a global hero, an icon of the sport and an icon of sportsmanship. He died to a global acclaim and made himself immortal in the minds of true blue racing fans. He made F1 what it is today, He was the last man to die in F1 and in my mind was the greatest ever.

He is one of my idols and will always remain so. This article was not meant to inform people about the details of Senna, just to express why I consider him my idol. Anyone who wishes to learn about Senna should seek the internet and MUST watch the film called Senna. Released in 2010 it documented his rise and death in F1.


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