Tuesday, May 05, 2009


Let us ask ourselves, who was the greatest Formula One driver ever? It is Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost or the late Aryton Senna? This is a hard question to answer. Although in terms of records and statistics, Michael Schumacher has a far edge over them; but nothing stops late Aryton Senna to push further beyond his limit, producing some outstanding performance.

Senna died 15 years ago in a freak accident in Imola, San Marino, in which the race weekend itself was already considered dark when on qualifying session, Roland Ratzenberger was killed in an accident. Since then, the motorsport changed dramatically when we talk about drivers and tracks safety. Rules after rules were implemented and the Imola circuit itself has already been altered to ensure no further tragic death at such to ever occur again.

According to Andrew Benson of BBC; "Senna's single-minded pursuit of success led to an uncompromising driving style that verged on dangerous, an approach since followed with conspicuous success by Schumacher. But, to many, Senna also redefined what was possible in an F1 car. He had a rage to win married to an ability that some would argue has never been equalled."

His career in Formula One began in 1984 after an unsuccessful bid to enter Williams, while in his early career, he was subtle in the Toleman team. He made debut in 1984 Brazilian GP and scored his first points at the subsequent South African GP. His best performance came in Monaco, when he eventually catching up the leader Prost at 4 seconds a lap before rain tormented his effort and the race was red-flagged. In 1984, he won 13 championship points.

In 1985, he moved to Team Lotus and had a mixed career. He won his first GP in 1985 Portuguese GP and made another 5 wins across his three seasons with Lotus. He garnered 38, 55 and 57 points for the three seasons (1985 to 1987) he was in Lotus, achieving double 4th overall finish, except the 3th in 1987 in driver's championship.

Thanks to his good relationship with Honda, he moved to McLaren in 1988. McLaren, now supplied by Honda proved to be the fastest car, joining Alain Prost as his team-mate in McLaren.

His rivalry career with 4 times-World Champion, Alain Prost was perhaps the most exciting and fiercely occured. Once the team-mates argued and even screwing each others' chances of winning, particularly in 1988 and 89. Read more here at Wikipedia. "The rivalry between Senna and Prost grew into the bitterest the sport has ever seen, and each man to a degree became defined by it."

ALAN PROST, another Formula One legend..

With his rival Prost for two seasons of team-mates, they dominated Formula One and twice involved in the championship-deciding collisions. In 1988, Aryton Senna won his first championship while Prost won his third the following year. As I said, go back to the wikipedia link regarding their rivalry to read more.

Enough is enough and Prost left the McLaren to join Ferrari in 1990. With struggling at pace in his Ferrari car, Senna took the opportunity and seized the World Championship in succession in 1990 and 1991. For the two following seasons, Honda-powered McLaren suffered and he was unable to clinch more title. Not before in 1993, the year Alain Prost won his fourth Championship and his final year in F1, did Senna and Prost showed some compassion despite their rivalry. Friends and nemesis can occured at the same time. In the emotional final Austarlian GP which marked Prost final appearance, Senna dragged Prost who finished second up to the top of the podium and embraced him. That marks the end of their bittersweet rivalry.

"He was recognised for his qualifying speed over one lap and held the record for most pole positions from 1989 to 2006 (until Michael Schumacher broke the record). He was among the most talented drivers in extremely rain-affected conditions, as show by his performances in the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. He also holds the record for most victories at the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix (6) and is the third most successful driver of all time in terms of race wins. - Wikipedia"

1994 - he migrated to Williams. At the third race in Imola, Senna was killed in an accident that will never be fully explained. In the same year where he joined Williams from the struggling McLaren, it was later revealed that Williams possessed some of the serious technical flaws in-design for their 1994 car. Despite the flaws, Senna was still able to drive the car to pole position for the first two races but failed to finish.

Going into San Marino, Senna was desperated as Michael Schumacher was leading the Championship, and he kenw that he needed to push over the limit to win.

Andrew Benson added, "Already it was clear that one of F1's great rivalries was in the offing, the young pretender challenging the supremacy of the veteran master, who was determined to hang on to his position.

But as Senna headed into the Tamburello corner at 190mph, with Schumacher just over a second behind, something went wrong. The Williams speared off the road and hit a concrete wall, still travelling at 137mph.
As fate would have it, a front wheel was knocked back towards the cockpit and Senna's helmet visor was pierced by a suspension arm. If the wheel had missed him, he would have stepped from the wreck unhurt."

Until today, Senna's death is still a mystery.


ARYTON SENNA IS SO INFLUENTIAL THAT EVEN SCHUMACHER LOOKED AT HIM AS HIS IDOL. Michael Schumacher in this interview after his win in Monza 2000, where he broke Senna's 41 race wins.

Races: 162
Wins: 41
Poles: 65
Drivers' titles: 1988,'90, '91
Teams: Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, Williams
Born: 21/3/60 (Sao Paulo, Brazil
Died: 1/5/94 (Imola, Italy)

1 comment:

acura said...

A true legend even though I do not have the opportunity to witness him in action. But the statistic speaks for themselves. Imagine what he would have accomplished if not for the unfortunate accident.


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