We all know that Senna is one of the most revered and respected drivers and indeed sportsmen of all time, but, on the day that would have been his 57th birthday, we remember some of the most interesting facts about the Formula one legend.
1.His first lap at the 1993 European GP might be one of the best ever
The race start at Donnington Park was a damp one, with many future world champions driving extremely carefully. Amazingly, Senna flew past them all though he was in the dry. Some of the drivers included Prost, Schumacher and Hill, and were passed before the end of the first lap!
2.He took being overtaken as a personal insult
Talking of overtaking, near the end of the Japanese GP in the same year, Senna was way out in front and negotiating in lapped traffic. Eddie Irvine, on his debut F1 start, had the audacity to unlap himself, twice. Although the accounts vary on the incident after, it’s alleged that the confrontation involved Senna’s fist, Eddie’s face and a pack of frozen peas – that’s passion!
3.His friendship with Gerhard Berger was one of the strongest – and in some cases, the silliest!
As teammates, they obviously struck a bond, so much so that they played hilarious pranks on each other. Berger, for example, hiding photos of…male parts in Senna’s passport – or Senna gluing credit cards in Berger’s wallet. These are the kind of things you expect from the closest of friends. Berger also advised Senna’s nephew, Bruno in later years.
4.He aided Erik Comas during a huge crash at Spa
Comas had a massive shunt and was knocked unconscious, Senna was the only driver to stop – he got out of the car, crossed the live race track and switched off the engine of the Frenchman’s car, reducing the risk of fire. He stayed there and helped to stabilise his head until medics could reach the scene.
Of course, to some extent, he saved the lives of many more drivers after his death, as safety changes were made after his accident at Imola.
5.He donated millions to charity
At one point, he was worth close to half a billion dollars, but he didn’t just waste it, he quietly donated lots of money to help under privileged children in Brazil. Even today, Instituto Ayrton Senna, founded by his sister, aims to relieve poverty and enable children to have the education they need to better themselves.
I think we can all agree he will never be forgotten and has contributed much to the sport and his country.