Ayrton Senna is possibly one of the greatest racing drivers to ever walk the earth.
He could do things in a racing car no other person even dreamed of. He found a way to ride the limit of a car and take it all the way to victory even when in less than optimal conditions or when the car was not up to par.
Senna’s early career was illustrious and marked by his love and gift for racing. He started racing when he was just 13 years old in a kart his dad built out of a lawnmower engine with only 1 horsepower.
Senna kept racing and eventually won the South American Karting Championship in 1978.
Senna stayed in karts for a few more years until transferring over to the Formula Ford 1600 in England for single seater racing. He then returned to Brazil for a little bit after his parents wanted him to run the family business, but decided to return to racing with Formula Ford 2000 and won the British and European championships.
Senna then went on to race in the British Formula 3 championship beating out Martin Brundle.
In 1984, Senna finally got a seat in the world’s premiere racing league, Formula 1.
He was racing for Toleman which was a midfield at best team. They struggled early on with some reliability issues and the car being off the pace frequently. The Monaco Grand Prix changed that very quickly. In the rain Senna charged up through the field from his P13 grid start to overtake Nikki Lauda to take 2nd place and was quickly catching up to Alain Prost who had been leading the race, but the stewards called off the race due to dangerous conditions.
Senna got two more podiums that season at the British and Portuguese Grand Prix.
The next season, Senna switched to the Lotus team the next season hoping to compete for poles and wins. He achieved that goal fairly quickly by taking Pole Position in the Portuguese GP and converted that into a race win.
Senna had 3 more pole positions until his next race where he was in the points. This was due to his aggressive driving style which Martin Brundle explained as “He put you in a position where you decide whether or not you were gonna crash”.
His time with Lotus was merely a glimpse of what he would become as the next two seasons he experienced mixed success with reliability issues and being far off the pace of the Williams car.
In 1988, Senna decided to switch for a team he found more competitive in the form of McLaren. His teammate would be Alain Prost, who was a former world champion at the time and a very skilled driver.
This was the start to one of the greatest rivalries in history with the two drivers duking it out round after round. The pair won 15 out of the 16 races in the 1988 season and Aryton Senna won his first world championship with the team. Senna and Prost went along the next season as an unstoppable duo, but Prost has the better of him and won the championship then left for rival Ferrari.
The next year Senna showed true dominance and won his second World Championship. The following season Senna became the youngest 3 time world champion as rival Ferrari saw a major downturn in performance and engine manufacturer Honda stepped up their performance.
Senna stayed with McLaren for two more seasons, but did not achieve the same levels of success due to the Williams car being all conquering and much quicker than the rest of the paddock.
Then in 1994 Senna switched to Williams to attempt to conquer another championship. The Williams car was reportedly in drivable that season and failed to score points in his first two races.
Then in the 3rd race on May first 1994 Aryton Senna was killed after a crash at the Imola circuit in the San Marino Grand Prix.
Senna is a racing legend and will never be forgotten as the man on the track through his legendary skill and off due to his countless charitable donations.
RIP ARYTON SENNA 1960-1995