Column: Ayrton Senna's 54th birthday

Column: Ayrton Senna's 54th birthday

21 March 2014 – If Ayrton Senna was still alive, he would have turned 54 today. The Brazilian driver lost his life in an accident almost 20 years ago but Formula 1, and the world in general, hasn't forgotten him.

Hi Ayrton,

54 years ago, nobody knew the legendary proportions your name would take on. And how could they? You were just one of the many babies that were born in São Paulo every day. It's a crazy city, that hasn't changed. Just as Interlagos hasn't changed. It's all a bit more modern, but two steps out of the main gate and you're in a different, much less fortunate place. It's still the same, no matter how much you wanted it to change.

Today we're driving with turbo engines again. Not the nuclear bombs you guys drove in the eighties, though. Not the 1,500 bhp, magnesium dripping, fire spitting, insane things you had bolted to the back of your car. You see, we're kind of keen on efficiency these days. And these engines are space age. This is the stuff of engineering dreams. They're just a bit too quiet, really. But that's going to change. Bernie said so, so it's going to happen. You know damn well that if Bernie sets his mind to something, it will be done. It will be like that until he's gone.

You're still very much in people's minds, Ayrton. Frank Williams still has your logo on his cars. I don't think he's ever gotten over your accident. But you're being remembered in different ways. People still talk about you. Your brilliant race in Monaco '84 and how it was red flagged. And how angry you were. But also your amazing first lap at Donington. People still get nostalgic about that, you know. Also, your battle with Alain Prost. It's often talked about, when a top team puts two big names in the same car. The comparison never really works but they just love talking about you.

Formula 1 has changed a lot since you've been gone. Your accident was terrible but also the last one in its form. The cars are unbelievably safe now. In the past 20 years, we've seen massive crashes, where drivers had nothing more than a DNF behind their name. Like the one with a Polish guy, who crashed into the wall at Montreal, travelling on the bad side of 150 mph. We all thought about your Imola crash for a second but Robert Kubica only had to miss one race. And there are many more stories like this. Drivers forget how dangerous Formula 1 can be. Once in a while though, there's a reminder. But thankfully never as horrific as the one on that awful weekend in 1994.

We miss you Ayrton. I wonder what you'd be doing if you had just gotten out of the car at Imola. Would there have been more World Championships? Would you have become a Team Principal, like Prost did? Would you have concentrated on your work for the Senna Foundation? Would you have left the sport, or carried on way past your forties, like Michael Schumacher did? He broke all the records, Ayrton. You knew him as a cocky young German but he went on to win seven titles. And now he's in a coma, after a skiing accident. We're all hoping that he'll wake up. I'm sure you would have visited him, no matter how your relationship would have been.

This should have been your 54th birthday but instead we're remembering your accident, almost 20 years ago. You're still part of Formula 1 and life in Brazil in general. If it's true that a person dies twice, once when his heart stops and a second time when he's forgotten, you'll live forever.

Ivo Pakvis
Twitter: @ipakvis

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Friday 1 August 2014

  2. Nakasuga to race third Yamaha at Motegi 11:25

    Nakasuga to race third Yamaha at Motegi

    Yamaha will run a third bike for test rider Katsuyuki Nakasuga at the Japanese Grand Prix in October. Nakasuga, a...

    MotoGP
  3. Häkkinen backs Räikkönen to recover 10:58

    Häkkinen backs Räikkönen to recover

    Mika Häkkinen has backed Kimi Räikkönen to recover from his troubled first half of the 2014 season. Since returning to Fe...

    F1
  4. 09:26

    Photos: Vergne gives F1 demo in Assen

    F1
  5. Vergne completes Assen Formula 1 demo 09:25

    Vergne completes Assen Formula 1 demo

    Jean-Éric Vergne completed his planned Formula 1 demo on the streets of Assen on Thursday evening. The Toro Rosso driver...

    F1
  6. Video of the Day: Factory to the race track 05:00

    Video of the Day: Factory to the race track

    UPS, Ferrari's Logistics & Shipping Partner, highlights the journey from the factory to the race track.

    F1
  7. Thursday 31 July 2014

  8. Ferrari announces Marmorini departure 15:27

    Ferrari announces Marmorini departure

    Ferrari has announced that Luca Marmorini, Director of the Engine and Electronics, has left the team. Speculation had...

    F1
  9. 13:00

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  10. Video: F1 2014 announcement trailer 11:14

    Video: F1 2014 announcement trailer

    Codemasters has released a trailer for F1 2014, coming to Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC on October 17. 2015 will see the...

    F1
  11. Wolff: Team orders masking reliability issues 09:49

    Wolff: Team orders masking reliability issues

    Toto Wolff reckons the team orders controversy at the Hungarian Grand Prix has masked significant reliability problems at...

    F1
  12. Ecclestone backtracks on Briatore input 07:00

    Ecclestone backtracks on Briatore input

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has seemingly backtracked on plans to involve ex-team boss Flavio Briatore in a new...

    F1
  13. Video of the Day: Mercedes duo in new advert 05:00

    Video of the Day: Mercedes duo in new advert

    Mercedes team-mates Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton star in the German brand's latest TV advert.

    F1
  14. Wednesday 30 July 2014

  15. Formula E postpones Malaysian round 17:33

    Formula E postpones Malaysian round

    The Malaysian round of the inaugural Formula E campaign has been postponed by five weeks. The event, to be staged in the...

    Formula E
  16. Ex-Caterham staff hit back at team 14:02

    Ex-Caterham staff hit back at team

    The ex-Caterham staff seeking compensation for unfair dismissal have hit back at a team statement. On Monday, around 40...

    F1
  17. Mallya: Force India can catch Williams 13:22

    Mallya: Force India can catch Williams

    Vijay Mallya is hopeful that Force India will be able to reclaim fourth in the Constructors' Championship from Williams...

    F1
  18. Red Bull increases Repsol Honda backing 12:55

    Red Bull increases Repsol Honda backing

    Energy drink company Red Bull has increased its partnership with Honda's factory MotoGP team. After nine years of...

    MotoGP
  19. Video: No 2014 highlights for Räikkönen 12:19

    Video: No 2014 highlights for Räikkönen

    Kimi Räikkönen delivers a typically dry response when asked for his highlights of the 2014 season so far.

    F1
  20. Ecclestone vows to scrap standing restarts 11:06

    Ecclestone vows to scrap standing restarts

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has vowed to remove standing restarts from the 2015 regulations, just over a month after...

    F1
  21. Gutiérrez set to begin Sauber contract talks 10:32

    Gutiérrez set to begin Sauber contract talks

    Esteban Gutiérrez says he plans to open contract extension talks with Sauber in the coming weeks. Gutiérrez, a former GP3...

    F1
  22. Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Hungary 09:20

    Mark Sutton: Story behind the shot - Hungary

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net is this season running a feature series entitled Story behind...

    F1
  23. Video of the Day: Chilton looks to Singapore 05:00

    Video of the Day: Chilton looks to Singapore

    Marussia's Max Chilton put in an appearance at the recent 'Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix Experience' in London's...

    F1
  24. Tuesday 29 July 2014

  25. Caterham takes legal action against ex-staff 17:24

    Caterham takes legal action against ex-staff

    The Caterham F1 team is to take legal action against a number of its former employees laid off earlier this month, it has...

    F1
  26. Tost: Too many deficiencies on reliability front 17:11

    Tost: Too many deficiencies on reliability front

    Franz Tost says Toro Rosso must improve its reliability during the second half of the Formula 1 season. Jean-Éric Vergne...

    F1
  27. We have raised our game, says Renault 16:09

    We have raised our game, says Renault

    Renault believes it has "raised its game" in recent races, but admits there is still a need for improvement. Daniel...

    F1
  28. Ecclestone moves to end German lawsuit early 15:01

    Ecclestone moves to end German lawsuit early

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has offered to pay BayernLB £20 million if it drops the bribery case against him, his...

    F1
  29. Red Bull has 'overachieved in many aspects' 14:12

    Red Bull has 'overachieved in many aspects'

    Christian Horner reckons Red Bull has "overachieved in many respects" this season, despite the massive 174-point difference...

    F1
  30. Kubica ready for 'Finnish Grand Prix' outing 12:51

    Kubica ready for 'Finnish Grand Prix' outing

    Former BMW and Renault F1 driver Robert Kubica will tackle Rally Finland this week buoyed by his maiden victory at the wheel...

    WRC
  31. Ferrari dismiss reports Fry has been sacked 11:31

    Ferrari dismiss reports Fry has been sacked

    Ferrari has refuted claims that it has parted company with Engineering Director, Pat Fry. According to Sky Sports, Fry...

    F1
  32. 11:00

    Photos: Hungarian GP in black and white

    F1
  33. Jones: Ricciardo grows horns when it counts 10:41

    Jones: Ricciardo grows horns when it counts

    Former Formula 1 World Champion Alan Jones reckons fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo has proved that he is capable of...

    F1
  34. Hamilton: I will come back stronger after break 09:49

    Hamilton: I will come back stronger after break

    Lewis Hamilton says he will use Formula 1's summer break to "re-energise" himself and get even "fitter" in a bid to become a...

    F1
  35. Winners and Losers at the Hungarian Grand Prix 08:00

    Winners and Losers at the Hungarian Grand Prix

    The Hungaroring produced a thrilling encounter ahead of the Formula 1 summer break, with Red Bull sensation Daniel Ricciardo...

    F1
  36. Video of the Day: Arsenal vs Force India – Part 1 05:00

    Video of the Day: Arsenal vs Force India – Part 1

    See what happened when Gatorade brought Arsenal and Force India together.

    F1
  37. Monday 28 July 2014

  38. Porsche SA buys Kyalami circuit at auction 15:00

    Porsche SA buys Kyalami circuit at auction

    South Africa's Kyalami circuit, which hosted F1 for almost two decades, has been bought by Porsche. The 72-hectare...

    F1
  39. Post-race penalties hand Marciello point 14:32

    Post-race penalties hand Marciello point

    Racing Engineering driver and Ferrari youngster Raffaele Marciello has moved into the points for the second Hungaroring GP2...

    GP2
  40. Horner lauds 'truly sensational' Ricciardo 13:31

    Horner lauds 'truly sensational' Ricciardo

    Christian Horner has heaped praise on Hungarian Grand Prix winner Daniel Ricciardo for delivering a "truly sensational"...

    F1
  41. Mattiacci: We must not delude ourselves 12:39

    Mattiacci: We must not delude ourselves

    Marco Mattiacci says Ferrari must keep its feet firmly on the ground after claiming a sizeable points haul at the Hungarian...

    F1
  42. Video: Rosberg reflects on Hungarian GP 11:07

    Video: Rosberg reflects on Hungarian GP

    Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg reflects on an eventful Hungarian Grand Prix, which included a costly Safety Car period, a team...

    F1
  43. Villeneuve: Rosberg tried to ruin Hamilton's race 10:47

    Villeneuve: Rosberg tried to ruin Hamilton's race

    Jacques Villeneuve believes that Nico Rosberg tried to "destroy" Lewis Hamilton's Hungarian Grand Prix. Rosberg was...

    F1
  44. Caterham team facing legal action from ex-staff 10:10

    Caterham team facing legal action from ex-staff

    The Caterham F1 team is facing legal action from around 40 former employees, laid off earlier this month. Since Tony...

    F1
  45. Sutil positive despite narrowly missing point 09:32

    Sutil positive despite narrowly missing point

    Adrian Sutil extracted the positives after narrowly missing out on his and Sauber's first point of the season at the...

    F1
more news