There’s a famous clichéd saying that Heroes Never Die and there’s one such legend that will live on till decades to come in the motorsport fraternity. He has been a role model for many successful racers and still continues to inspire many racers around the world. For someone who has even remotely followed motorsport or Formula One, in general, would definitely know of Ayrton Senna. As this month it will be 25 years since his tragic fatal accident at Imola in 1994. On a positive note, let’s reminisce the beautiful memories that Senna has left behind for us.
King of Monaco
Senna’s tryst with Monaco first began in his debut season in 1984, where he came in second for the Toleman team. When it came to racing in Monaco, Senna was phenomenally quick and he dominated almost all the races from 1987 to 1993. One year in which he couldn’t win was 1988, where his overaggressive driving resulted in him crashing out of the race when he already had a healthy lead of 55 seconds over his then McLaren teammate, Alain Prost. Since that incident, Senna won the Monaco Grand Prix a staggering five times in a row from 1989 to 1993. One of the best races that Senna drove in Monaco was in 1992 where he blocked his way to victory, keeping the mighty Englishman, Nigel Mansell in his rearview mirrors.
Not all racers can hold their own during a wet race, it is when during these treacherous racing conditions the true potential of a racer is known. Very early on in his career Senna showed that potential. In the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, he qualified 13th for the race with Toleman, a lower midfield running team’s car. On race day, he overtook the likes of Nigel Mansell, Keke Rosberg, Niki Lauda to finish in second almost 7 seconds behind McLaren’s Alain Prost. The race was red flagged at the end of the 32nd lap after the clerk of the course Jacky Ickx decided that conditions were too poor for the race to be continued. Senna passed Prost’s slowing McLaren before the finish line, but according to the rules, the positions counted are those from the last lap completed by every driver – lap 31, at which point Prost was still leading.
Another race that blew everyone’s mind was Senna’s first lap at Formula One’s only race which was held at Donnington Park in 1993, it was also known as the European Grand Prix. Thanks to England’s unpredictable weather we witnessed the lap of a lifetime. Senna’s first lap at Donnington Park in 1993 Formula One European Grand Prix is a proper example of how ruthless Senna was when it poured.
That season McLarens were chasing Williams as the Williams were far better than any team on the grid that season. Senna qualified 4th on the grid for the race almost 1.5 seconds behind the leading pair of Williams. In dry conditions, Senna had no chance of overtaking the Williams, but the heavens opened and on the very first lap he fell behind Michael Schumacher in the Benetton then overtook him, next up was Wendlinger, followed by Damon Hill, and finally his old nemesis, Alain Prost in the Williams.