Biography of Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna Profile
The legacy of Ayrton Senna is perhaps greater than that of any other driver in the history of the sport with his tragic passing during F1's darkest weekend at Imola in 1994 leading to significant reforms to the safety of cars and racing facilities around the world.
Senna contested 11 seasons in F1, winning the drivers' title in 1988, '90 and '91 against a rollcall of legendary names that trip off the tongue including Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet and his arch-rival, Alain Prost.
Senna was renowned for his aggressive driving style and 'take no prisoners' attitude, an approach that was perfectly encapsulated by his famous quote: "If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you're no longer a racing driver."
After a promising junior career, Senna made the step up to F1 with Toleman in 1984. The Brazilian quickly built a reputation after scoring points in two of his first three outings - in that season, points were awarded only to the top six drivers - but his breakthrough performance came in the wet at Monaco when he finished second behind only Prost.
Although results were few and far between for the remainder of the year, Senna would score a further two podiums for third-place finishes before the end of the year.
Three years at Lotus followed with six wins and 16 podiums enough to catch the attention of McLaren.
The 1988 season saw Senna outscore Prost with eight wins to the Frenchman's seven to claim the title in his maiden year with the team. Oddly, had the dropped score points system not factored into the equation, only a driver's best 11 results counting towards the total, Prost would have instead been crowned champion.
Controversy would follow in 1989 with the McLaren team-mates clashing in Japan. Although Prost retired, Senna received a push and continued but as he had cut the chicane, the Brazilian was disqualified for not completing the full lap. He ended the year second.
Back to back title followed with 1990 sparking more controversy. The race was a simple equation for Senna, if Prost, now driving for Ferrari, did not finish the race, Senna would be the champion. The pair clashed at turn one and both retired on the spot.
Senna moved to Williams for 1994 after the team had dominated in 1992 and '93, the Brazilian's standout win at Donington in '93 aside, but a ban on electronic driver aids, in particular active suspension, severely limited his ability to compete at the front.
At the fourth race of the year, Imola, Senna elected to race despite holding reservations after the death of Roland Ratzenberger on the Saturday of the event. The Brazilian would only complete six laps.
After his crash at Tamburello, an Austrian flag was discovered in Senna's car with it believed he had intended to pay tribute to Ratzenberger after the chequered flag had fallen.
In 2010, a documentary film was released giving a rare glimpse at Senna away from the track as well as detailing his F1 career and rivalry with Prost.