segunda-feira, 19 de maio de 2014

Remembering Ayrton Senna at the 20th anniversary of his death

Thursday 1st May 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the great Senna’s death and whilst some might argue differently, his death was not in vain as the safety regulations in Formula One have never been better.

Ayrton Senna - Monaco 1993 - Victory

Some will say Michael Schumacher, others might point to the likes of five-time world champion Juan Manuel Fangio but there can be no doubt about it, Ayrton Senna is most certainly up there with the very best.

If you’ve never seen Asif Kapadia’s amazing film documentary ‘Senna’ then do yourself a favour, crack open a cold one and stick it on, you won’t be disappointed.

Senna died on May 1, 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix. He was only 34 years-old and he had won three world championships.

The day before Senna’s death, Austrian rookie driver Roland Ratzenberger was killed during qualification and it was later revealed that after his death an Austrian flag was found inside the cockpit of Senna’s wrecked Williams F1 car - he intended to wave the Austrian flag at the end of the race as a mark of respect for Ratzenberger.

The reason Ayrton Senna is still celebrated as one of the greatest drivers and perhaps the greatest personality F1 has ever seen is because Senna, the man, transcended the sport.

Many men and women who don’t know the first thing about Senna know exactly who you’re talking about when you mention the name Senna. He was bigger than life itself.

Although some might try and argue that the edge has been taken off F1 because of the safety regulations, I would like to see them stay calm inside the small cockpit of a V6 powered F1 car in Monaco - even trying to picture it makes go all queasy.

Since Senna’s death the FIA have been on a constant health and safety mission. Driving F1 cars has never been more safe but that doesn’t mean the sport is without risk.

Let’s be honest, travelling inches above the ground at speeds in excess of 200mph is pretty damn terrifying. Many of us say we’d like to try it out but very few of us actually could pull it off.

It’s precisely because of the risk and the speed that many like me are attracted to F1 but that shouldn’t mean it should come at the expense of a driver.

Ayrton Senna on the starting grid, at Imola 1994
Senna was one of the greatest and was most likely acutely aware that he might die on the track but that didn’t stop him. Although he was the last driver to lose his life he was most certainly not the last to risk it.

It’s easy to criticise F1 and don’t get me wrong there are many rules I would like to see scrapped and many changes I would like to see made but as far as I am concerned the spirit of Ayrton Senna is alive in drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg.

The spirit Ayrton Senna is almost impossible to put into words but if you’ve followed even one or two of his races you will know exactly what I am talking about.

Ayrton Senna might be gone but the F1 family, drivers and fans included, will never forget him.

He was a prince amongst oil, metal and petrol. He was a genius in the rain but most of all he was Ayrton Senna.


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