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To motor racing fans, and to his fellow Brazilians, Ayrton Senna was a God. He was a Formula 1 racing legend with millions of fans. He raced in 161 Grand Prix, winning 41 of them (second only to Alain Prostís 51). His 65 pole positions has made an all time record over Jim Clarkís 33. He was the Formula 1 champion in 1988, 1990 and 1991, though he missed out in 1989 as he was excluded from the Japanese Grand Prix, which lost him the title.
Born in S„o Paulo, Brazil in 1960 Senna was born to race. His father first sponsored him in kart racing as a child, where he won his first go-kart championship at the age of 14, and went on to claim 2 South American titles. He then moved to England to begin an apprenticeship in top-flight racing. His Brizillian fans cheered him on through while he took the titles from 1981 to 1983 in progressively more powerful cars .
He first grabbed the headlines in a Formula One with a dramatic drive in the wet at Monaco placing second behind Alain Prost in a race that was shortened because of the terrible conditions. The following year he was snapped up to drive for Lotus-Renault and again driving in the wet won his first Grand Prix in Portugal. From 1985 to 1987 he won six races for Lotus. In 1987 Lotus ran Honda engines, and when Honda switched in 1988 to the McLaren team Senna went with them. This led to an era of McLaren/Honda/Senna dominance of Formula One.
In 1988 he won 8 races, an all time record, and in 1989 he won a further 6 races but was edged out of the championship by fellow McLaren driver Alain Prost. In 1989 he came second again to Alain Prost, but only due to his exclusion from the Japanese Grand Prix. The next two consecutive years he won the crown. In 1990 he won 6 races for McLaren-Honda, and in 1991 he won 7 races for his team .
In 1992 Nigel Mansell, driving the superior Williams-Renault, won the title. Ayrton was still with McLaren which lacked the active suspension and the power of the Williams-Renault, but due to Sennaís skilled driving McLaren still scored three victories. In 1992 Senna came 4th overall, his worst final result since 1986. In 1993 he was still with McLaren while his old rival Alain Prost returned to beat him yet again with a Williams-Renault. Senna drove brilliantly in an inferior car to win 5 races that year to come second overall to Alain Prost.
Ayrton switched to Williams-Peugeot for 1994 and was expected to dominate the series that year but this was not to be.
He died on Sunday 1st May, 1994 in the San Marino Grand Prix when apparently his Williams car had a mechanical failure, the steering shaft snapped veering his Williams TW16 off to the right and head on into a concrete wall. Senna was airlifted to hospital where he died from severe head and neck injuries four hours later. I quote from Ayrton Senna da Silva:
"If I ever happen to have an accident that eventually costs me my life, I hope it is in one go. I would not like to be in a wheelchair. I would not like to be in a hospital suffering from whatever injury it was. If I am going to live, I want to live fully. Very intensely, because I am an intense person. It would ruin my life if I had to live partially."
Although Ayrton Senna was known widely as "Senna" his full
name is Ayrton Senna da Silva. "Senna" was his middle name, which
was his motherís name. Since "da Silva" is such a common name
in Brazil (like Smith and Jones) he became known as Senna, because it is
not such a common name.
Ayrton Senna was a single-minded, sensitive man. He was admired by millions of people all over the world, especially his fellow Brazilians. When Roland Ratzenberger died during a fatal crash at the same race meeting, Ayrton Senna had defied the rules to go and see Ratzenberger and judge for himself what had happened. "When he was impeded by the track attendants he had jumped a wall, climbed into a car and driven around to verify for himself what had happened."
Ayrton Senna was known to be more serious than any other driver in racing. From when he was 10 years old, he was never resting from working on his kart or thinking about the lines he should take on the track. As a child, he was believed to be a 30-year-old kid, as he was so serious and adult-like . His only real rival had been Maurizio Sala, the only person who ever challenged him in his childhood racing. Senna and Sala would be battling it out for 1st place while the rest of the field, a long, long way back, would battle it out for third.
Ayrton was known to be a ruthless driver. The ruthlessness had paid off, giving him three world championships and favourite to take the title in 1994. He was the coolest of drivers, unless he had a grudge against someone or was simply steamed up, and was willing to take risks to win the race. Senna was willing to take risks so great to the extent that there was the chance that it may end up as a fatal accident. People believed that Senna would end up killing himself because he took these risks. Alain Prost, his former team-mate, stated "Ayrton has a small problem. He thinks he canít kill himself because he believes in God and I think thatís very dangerous for the other drivers."
To conclude this biography of Ayrton Senna da Silva, I would end in saying that he was a man that had millions of fans. He was very serious and determined about his racing, but it paid off for him, giving him 3 Formula One world championships and 41 separate wins. Ayrton Senna will never be forgotten since he was the most skilled racing driver there has ever been. Unfortunately for the whole world, he died through no fault of his own.
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