Sunday, September 16, 2012

Ayrton Senna: The Greatest F1 Driver Ever.

Whenever I talk about racing, the first lines that come to me are:

"Focus. Speed. I am Speed. One winner, forty-two losers. I eat losers for breakfast. Breakfast? Maybe I should have had breakfast? No, no, no, focus. Speed. Faster than fast, quicker than quick. I am Lightning."
This quote is from an amazing animated movie, Cars. 

Most people will say Michael Schumacher is the best F1 driver. And they would be right, if you only look at the stats. 7-time world champion=world's greatest driver.

But actually, comparing overall they are dead wrong about Schumacher being the best. There existed and will always exist, a racing god, a forgotten hero, a legend. Ayrton Senna.

Faster than any other driver of his era, as his three world titles and 41 grand prix wins proved, Senna also had a ruthless streak like no other.

Among true racing fans, Ayrton Senna holds the top spot, his skill and nerve allowed him to do things on the track that no one had seen before or since. And among those true racing fans, there are people, a much smaller group who consider him a villain, a danger because of his single-mindedness and overpowering desire to win.

Mostly because of his controversial crashes with his arch rival, Alain Prost. Senna-Prost participated in one of the most intense and acrimonious rivalries that became life-threateningly dangerous on the track.
Although here too, Prost was statistically better than Senna, it was clear in most of races they competed that Senna was faster and a much better driver. His drive to win and be the fastest, costed him points. But being the fastest was his motto. That what made him so great.
They were also involved in two of the most controversial crashes which also decided championship wins (1989-Prost; 1990-Senna), both of which happened at Japenese Grand Prix and in both they crashed and were out of the race. (Although I still consider that the 1989 championship was Senna's.)

Races attended162
Races won41
Pole positions65
Fastest Laps19
Points net610
Championships              3 (1988 1990 1991)

Though his career was short-lived, he still holds 3 world records. And had maintained several others for years, one of them being most pole positions which Schumacher broke in 2006 (currently record 68-schumacher).
Those 3 WR are: Youngest 3-time World Champion, Most Consecutive Wins, Most Start/Finish wins (Carrer).

Ayrton Senna is well known for his exceptional driving during wet conditions, winning almost every race in those conditions. But he wasn't always a rain-master.
The truth was that Senna was terrible in the rain when he was younger. He would win every competition or race in the dry, but when it rained, he was completely miserable at it. Completely fed up with his results in the rain, Ayrton would sit by his local karting circuit, just waiting for it to rain. He'd spend hours in the wet, often coming home drenched and soaking wet. While every other driver sought shelter in the wet, Ayrton was the first to get out there and drive.

Senna's one of the best race (though he didnot win) was infact in wet conditions, in his early F1 years, at Monaco Grand Prix. Ayrton qualified 13th on the grid, but made swift progress through the field. By lap 19 he was in second place, and was hunting down the leader Prost, making 5 secs (gap) every lap.
And on lap 32 Prost slowed as he approached the start/finish line and Senna passed him. However, the red flag came out and the race was stopped due to the worsening conditions. And he came in 2nd. Nevertheless, that drive at Monaco had impressed a lot of people.

He also took a memorable first race victory in dreadful wet weather conditions, similar to the one metioned above. He would win by over a minute from the second placed Michele Alboreto in the Ferrari and lapped everyone up to 3rd place. In fact he was so dominant that day that he recorded his first grand slam as well - he won from pole, led every lap, and set fastest lap of the race.

Thus, the title rain master was born.

Another one of his famous victories was his first Brazillian Grand Prix win. Where his gearbox jammed, and he had to drive almost half of the race stuck at 6th gear. This sheer determination and the desire to win is what made him a legend, unmatched champion.

He was a man who simply had so much self-belief that he could not fathom the idea of being beaten. It was the key to his greatness and his biggest flaw. Genius or thug? The debate will run and run. Not so the argument about his claim to be the greatest.

Ayrton Senna ~ "Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, competing to win. And the main motivation is to compete for victory; it's not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it's possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it's impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I'm doing it right."

His best years were at McLaren, which he left later for Williams. By 1992, F1 had changed a lot, with introduction of new designs, faster cars, better engines, and auto-leveling systems (active suspension), which Williams had until 1994...which also helped Prost take away the championship title from Senna in 1993, due to this unfair advantage.
Senna joined Williams team, when Prost called quits...and suspiciously the self-leveling systems were banned. And Senna for few months remained very unhappy with his car, and spun out many times.

Sadly, 1st May 1994 was his last race, where his car spun off track and hit the side benders, leading to his demise. (There was another crash which happened just a day earlier taking the life of Ronald Ratzenberger)

The legacy of Senna's death, is that safety standards in F1 and across numerous other formulae have improved dramatically. No driver has lost their life in F1 since Senna's death, and the sport has now enjoyed its longest ever period without a fatality.

But Senna’s greatest accomplishments may have come off the track. It only became clear after his untimely death that Senna had been donating millions of his own money to charities for children in his home country. Despite growing up in somewhat privileged circumstances, Senna recognized the hardships that many of his countrymen faced and was most concerned about kids and their future.

If you want to see him action, and know his complete story, I suggest you watch Senna, an amazing and emotionally gripping documentary.

Dedicate this post to you, one of your biggest fan, this is me saying you are the best, Senna:




  1. well written and informative post about Senna.

  2. senna is the best f1 driver ever...pure racing driver..thanks for the memories! good post...ayrton senna, rest in peace !

  3. ^ well, thanks! I agree, senna was and is the best. rip. His charity work really moved be so up, and still remain grounded, raise the brazilian flag when you win. that's something.

  4. ^^^ thanks for the appreciation anon1...I would also like to include that the day he died, he was carrying (in his car) the flag of raise it when he wins, in tribute to ronald ratzenberg (who had died the day before). speaks volume of his extra-ordinary character.

  5. One of the main reasons why I believe that Senna is a superior driver to Schumacher is that he built his legendary reputation during a time in Formula One where there were other drivers equally as legendary as he was. Btw Good Post! Cheers.

  6. o f1 sürücülerinin en iyisiydi bana göre halada öyle... :(

  7. @chat: Ne dediğini anlamıyorum ...:(

  8. @anon3: thanks! means a lot :) yes your reasoning is correct. Senna entered at the time when alain prost ruled fierce was their competition, that in one season they both won 15 of 16 grand prix.

  9. ayrton senna is a icon for ever

  10. Thank you everyone for reading! My most-read post is my all time favorite post too. I am back and will be posting stuff soon.

  11. As long as there are people like you who keep his memories alive, he will never be forgotten ever. The younger generation believes there's only Schumacher in F1, quoting the man as the greatest driver, what they don't know is that even Schumacher spent his early days in racing chasing after Senna. There is a difference between the greatest driver of all time and the most successful driver of all time. It took Schumacher 12 years to grab the title of 'The King of The Qualifying Lap' from Senna, there is nothing that is more obvious than the fact that the greatest driver has come and gone. RIP Ayrton Senna. and thank you whoever you are for this beautiful piece.

    1. Thank you so much whoever you are. :) You just made my day! I love you for that. Senna was, is, and always will be the best.
      Thanks again. Visit again soon.

      P.S: Sorry for the late reply. A happy new year. I had stopped blogging after I got out of college. I am starting afresh just for myself.
      BTW check out: (I love this website, I think you will too)

  12. hi, my name is Luis Castilla, and i am illustrator, i was doing an illustration based in one of your pictures that we can see in your blog. ( for non commercial purposes ) I will notice your blog's reference. thanks a lot