I saw a wonderful film today. It was about a humble man from Brazil, a man who for millions of people was the only good thing about their lives. His name was Ayrton Senna, arguably the greatest racing driver who ever lived. His tragic death in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix shook the world; rightly, for a driver of his stature. His legacy is there, from Lewis Hamilton’s yellow helmet, a tribute to his great McLaren hero, to the overtaking, rivalries, and high-octane racing that still sends shivers down the spines of fans old and new.
Motor racing changed irreparably the day Senna passed on, and the improvements in safety have meant that to this day no other driver has been claimed from us through a Formula One accident. Yet the drivers nowadays, on the whole, have little in common with Senna. And how could they? To emulate such a great man is impossible; although he possessed extraordinary talent, he would never take the easy way out. This is not to say he was perfect, far from it.
Even when he led the Monaco Grand Prix by 55 seconds from his great rival Alain Prost, he would not ‘go slow’. Senna’s all-or-nothing spirit encompasses all that is great about sport. I reckon that even if you had told Senna that his race at Imola would be his last, and the only way to avoid this certain fate would be to retire, he would have driven out onto the grid because his life was motor racing.
Senna was a humble man from Brazil, and for millions of people, he was the only good thing about their lives.
A purist, a perfectionist, we likely never see anyone so supremely gifted and effortlessly popular as Senna again. Yet thanks to ‘Senna’, the beautiful documentary covering his life in F1, his magic will live on forever. I would urge everyone, whether sport-literate or not in the least bit interested, to go and see for yourselves the tremendous achievements of this one-of-a-kind hero of modern day sport.