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. Saturday 4 July 2015

  2. 19:51

    Latest GP2 photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    GP2
  3. Feature Race penalties for Pic, Rowland 19:47

    Feature Race penalties for Pic, Rowland

    Arthur Pic and Oliver Rowland have both been handed penalties by the stewards following Saturday's GP2 Feature Race at…

    GP2
  4. 17:41

    Latest F1 photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    F1
  5. McLaren reprimanded for tyre breach 17:33

    McLaren reprimanded for tyre breach

    McLaren has been reprimanded by the stewards after it fitted Fernando Alonso's car with a tyre outside his allocation during…

    F1
  6. Ricciardo struggles in low-speed corners 17:11

    Ricciardo struggles in low-speed corners

    Daniel Ricciardo pinpointed a lack of grip through Silverstone's low-speed corners after qualifying 10th for the British Grand…

    F1
  7. 17:09

    Latest GP3 photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    GP3
  8. Kirchhöfer fends off Bernstorff for victory 17:07

    Kirchhöfer fends off Bernstorff for victory

    ART driver Marvin Kirchhöfer resisted a late charge from Arden rival Emil Bernstorff to claim victory in the first GP3 race of…

    GP3
  9. Verstappen bemused by lack of pace 16:19

    Verstappen bemused by lack of pace

    Toro Rosso driver Max Verstappen was left bemused by a lack of pace as he was unable to progress through to the top 10 shootout…

    F1
  10. Räikkönen: Ferrari not slipping back 16:14

    Räikkönen: Ferrari not slipping back

    Kimi Räikkönen insists that Ferrari is not slipping back, as both he and team-mate Sebastian Vettel were beaten by the…

    F1
  11. Sirotkin cruises to emphatic maiden win 15:42

    Sirotkin cruises to emphatic maiden win

    Rapax driver Sergey Sirotkin ended Stoffel Vandoorne's string of Feature Race wins by cruising to victory at…

    GP2
  12. Massa pleased to out-qualify Ferrari 14:57

    Massa pleased to out-qualify Ferrari

    Felipe Massa expressed his satisfaction after Williams outpaced Ferrari in Saturday's qualifying session for the British Grand…

    F1
  13. Hamilton hails 'special' Silverstone pole 14:47

    Hamilton hails 'special' Silverstone pole

    Lewis Hamilton spoke of his delight after beating Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to pole position for his home race at…

    F1
  14. 14:14

    British Grand Prix: Qualifying results

    F1
  15. Hamilton beats Rosberg for home pole 14:06

    Hamilton beats Rosberg for home pole

    Lewis Hamilton overcame the threat posed by Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg to take pole position for the British Grand Prix…

    F1
  16. 12:55

    Follow qualifying for the British GP!

    F1
  17. 11:06

    British Grand Prix: Full Practice 3 results

    F1
  18. Hamilton quickest in final practice 11:04

    Hamilton quickest in final practice

    Lewis Hamilton set the pace for this first time this weekend during final practice for the British Grand Prix, half a second…

    F1
  19. 09:48

    Follow final practice for the British GP!

    F1
  20. FIA issues Copse track limits warning 09:34

    FIA issues Copse track limits warning

    Formula 1 drivers have been warned about exceeding the track limits ahead of Saturday's qualifying session for the British Grand…

    F1
  21. Kirchhöfer flies to pole at Silverstone 09:22

    Kirchhöfer flies to pole at Silverstone

    Marvin Kirchhöfer stormed to pole position for Saturday's first GP3 race of the weekend at Silverstone after setting two laps…

    GP3
  22. Lotus sets sights on battle for fourth 08:02

    Lotus sets sights on battle for fourth

    Lotus CEO Matthew Carter is optimistic that the team can overhaul Red Bull for fourth place in the Constructors' championship -…

    F1
  23. Mallya: Ecclestone needs to 'un-crap' F1 07:46

    Mallya: Ecclestone needs to 'un-crap' F1

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone should find a way to "un-crap" the sport if he feels that he doesn't have a good enough…

    F1
  24. Video of the Day: Hamilton in London 05:20

    Video of the Day: Hamilton in London

    Explore London with Lewis Hamilton as the Mercedes driver visits his favourite places in England's capital city ahead of this…

    F1
  25. Friday 3 July 2015

  26. 21:16

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Silverstone

    F1
  27. Alonso braced for Q1 elimination 20:48

    Alonso braced for Q1 elimination

    McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso fears that it will be difficult to progress from the first phase of qualifying for the…

    F1
  28. Vișoiu docked three places for impeding 20:29

    Vișoiu docked three places for impeding

    Rapax driver Robert Vișoiu has been handed a three place grid penalty for the GP2 Feature Race after stewards deemed that he…

    GP2
  29. Williams drivers eye better one-lap pace 18:40

    Williams drivers eye better one-lap pace

    Williams drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas are chasing improved one-lap pace after the first day of practice at…

    F1
  30. Hülkenberg: New car immediately better 18:05

    Hülkenberg: New car immediately better

    Nico Hülkenberg expressed his encouragement with Force India's upgrade package as he says he was able to feel the performance…

    F1
  31. Red Bull pair encouraged by upgrades 17:45

    Red Bull pair encouraged by upgrades

    Daniil Kvyat and Daniel Ricciardo spoke positively about Red Bull's British Grand Prix upgrade package after Friday's practice…

    F1
  32. Hamilton happier with clutch set-up 17:27

    Hamilton happier with clutch set-up

    Lewis Hamilton expressed his optimism after reverting to an older clutch set-up during Friday practice for the British Grand…

    F1
  33. Rosberg praises team for turnaround 17:17

    Rosberg praises team for turnaround

    Nico Rosberg has heaped praise on his Mercedes team for repairing his car during Friday's opening practice session at…

    F1
  34. 16:46

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Silverstone

    GP2
  35. Sirotkin beats Vandoorne for maiden pole 16:43

    Sirotkin beats Vandoorne for maiden pole

    Rapax driver Sergey Sirotkin claimed his maiden GP2 Series pole position as he overcame the competition during Friday…

    GP2
  36. 15:36

    British Grand Prix: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  37. Rosberg stays on top in second practice 15:33

    Rosberg stays on top in second practice

    Nico Rosberg remained at the top of the timesheets during Friday afternoon's second free practice session for the British Grand…

    F1
  38. Mercedes reprimanded over car cover 14:55

    Mercedes reprimanded over car cover

    Mercedes has escaped serious punishment for covering Nico Rosberg's car after his practice stoppage at Silverstone, with the…

    F1
  39. 13:50

    Follow second practice for the British GP!

    F1
  40. Comtec to make return with Delétraz 12:38

    Comtec to make return with Delétraz

    Comtec Racing will make its return to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at next weekend's round in Austria, with Louis Delétraz…

    FR 3.5
  41. Mercedes referred to stewards for covering car 12:34

    Mercedes referred to stewards for covering car

    Mercedes has been referred to the British Grand Prix stewards for covering Nico Rosberg's car as it returned to the Silverstone…

    F1
  42. 11:43

    British Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
more news