Ayrton Senna da Silva is a legendary Brazilian Formula 1 racer who is often touted as the best and very influential racer in the world of motorsport. This is because his life journey is full of drama and of course his racing skills are extraordinary. His career in Formula 1 which could be said to be quite short was closed with a shocking death to the world. The fatal accident that claimed his life to date has become one of the important historical moments in the world of car racing.
Senna’s racing ability has been recognized as one of the most amazing talents. His ability to drive on a wet track in conditions that are very riveting rain made him earned the nickname The Rain Man . In a fairly short career, Senna has successfully won the Monaco GP 6 times which later made him called the Master of Monaco. His expertise in qualifications is also very brilliant. He often gets the leading start position in races. Senna recorded 65 times the leading start position in 162 races before it was broken by Michael Schumacher who recorded 65 times the leading start in 236 races. It should be noted that the car used by Senna is certainly not as reliable as Schumacher. Plus Senna also has the burden of pressure from the intrigue of competition among teammates.
All of his extraordinary abilities were confirmed with 3 times world champions in 1988, 1990 and 1991. Throughout his career, Ayrton Senna has won 41 Grand Prix.
And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously.
I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension. “-
An Explosive Rivalry
In 1988, Ayrton Senna joined the Mclaren-Honda team along with French racer Alain Prost. This is where the drama of rivalry begins.
Although still a team, Senna and Prost have high dramatic rivalries. In 1988 out of 16 Grand Prix , they both won all Grand Prix except 1 Grand Prix. Senna and Prost compete very tightly and alternately champion. Senna finally won the world championship by only 3 points above Prost. Imagine how fierce the battle between the two?
In contrast to Niki Lauda and James Hunt, the relationship between Senna and Prost developed into an unfriendly relationship. Rivalry between the two is not colored by the beauty of sportsmanship and friendship. Both of them fought like a big enemy. In 1989 both of them collided, Prost was allegedly accidentally crashing his car into Senna’s car. In the following year, 1990, they collided again. This time it was Senna’s turn to accidentally crash her car.
Rivalry of both is very exciting and tense. Even today, both fans often clash arguments into two different camps.
The Death of Ayrton Senna
Ayrton Senna’s death is one of the historic moments in the world of motorsport. His amazing career was closed with great surprise. The tragic accident that claimed his life occurred on May 1, 1994 precisely at the San Marino Grand Prix, Italy.
Not only Senna’s death, several accidents and also deaths occurred at this Grand Prix. No wonder this moment was later named the darkest day in the history of Formula 1 (Blackest Day for Grand Prix Racing)
Starting with the Rubens Barrichello accident that occurred during training. The car flew into the air and fell upside down. Barrichello is a racer who is the same nationality as Senna, Brazil. He also often gets input and direction from Senna. This incident was allegedly giving mental pressure to Senna. According to Barrichello, the first person he saw when he regained consciousness after passing out was Senna.
Then a more fatal accident occurred. At the time of qualifying, the front of the Austrian racer, Roland Ratzenberger suffered damage which resulted in the suspension and aerodynamics of the car being disturbed. On the next lap, Ratzenberger’s car then lost balance and crashed into a parapet at 310 km / h. Can you imagine how fast it is?
Ratzenberger was then rushed to the hospital and soon reportedly died of a hard head crash. This further adds to the mental pressure for the other drivers.
The qualifying phase is complete with Senna leading the position. The match begins.
At the beginning of the match, another accident occurred. Pedro Lamy’s car from the Lotus team crashed into a Benetton B194 car that had Lehto on strike. The crash included a front wheel of a flying Lamy car, scattering injured 4 spectators and a police officer. Although Lamy was not injured, Lehto suffered minor arm injuries.
After the safety car comes out, the match starts again at the end of lap 5.
At the beginning of lap 7, Senna’s car lost control. The reason is until now still a matter of debate in the automotive world. At the bend called Tamburello, Senna’s car went off the track and shot straight into a concrete wall without a barrier. The speed when it sped off the track is 310 km / h and it was later found that there was braking to 218 km / h when 2 seconds before the car hit the wall.
The collision made the front of the car shattered into pieces. The front suspension shattered instantly and the front tire flew backwards against Senna’s head. The car bounced back into the lane with Senna still motionless. From the sighting of the helicopter, Senna’s head moved slightly which gave a glimmer of hope. In less than 2 minutes, the doctor and the safety team came to the scene of the accident. Senna was immediately flown to the hospital by helicopter. But his life remained beyond help, that night Senna was announced dead.
The diagnosis of death was due to a broken skull, injury to the brain, and rupture of the temporal artery. Other sources said that Senna had died instantly not long after the collision. Visible head movements from a helicopter are body movements that usually occur shortly after a person dies.
After the game was over, there was a very touching discovery. In the cockpit of Senna’s car, an Austrian flag was found. It turned out that Senna had planned to give a tribute to Ratzenberger after the match ended. Very ironic.
It’s not over there yet. After that there was still an accident. Michele Alboreto’s car took off the right rear tire when leaving the pit stop. At that time Alboreto had begun to act so that the tires were bounced and caused serious injuries to a pit stop crew. This then becomes the beginning of a new rule regarding speed when making a pit stop.
The match ended with Michael Schumacher’s victory from the Benetton team. At that time there was no celebration on the podium. Everyone was busy thinking about and talking about the deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger.
Causes of Senna Death
Until now, the cause of Ayrton Senna’s death is still a discussion and debate in various circles in the automotive world. Some argue because of damage to the steering, some argue because of damage to the suspension, some argue because the Senna car is less stable, until there is also an opinion because of suicide. What was clear was that many people were of the opinion that at that time Senna was in a state of mental stress. The causes of mental stress are as follows.
- Barrichello’s serious accident during a training session on Friday. Barrichello is a compatriot racer who often gets tutors from Senna. At the time of the accident, Senna accompanied Barrichello to the hospital.
- The accident resulted in the death of Roland Ratzenberger in the qualifying session the next day after the training session.
- Lagging behind 20 points to chase the world champion.
- Senna’s suspicion that Benetton B194 used an illegal traction control system and a gas filler valve. This possibility of cheating resulted in Senna losing points in previous matches. Previously, Senna had collided and was stopped from the match. Instead of returning to the pits and resting, Senna remained standing and watching other cars throughout the game to listen to the sound of cars using illegal traction control.
- Senna’s FW16 car that was complained of had a poor performance.
- Senna’s relationship with her boyfriend, Adriane Galisteu did not get the blessing of her family. In addition, reportedly, Senna had received a voice recording Galisteu talks with his ex-girlfriend.
For his fans, especially from his home country, the death of Ayrton Senna was considered a national tragedy. Even the Brazilian government announced three days of national mourning to commemorate Senna’s death.
The Italian air force offered to take Senna’s body back to Brazil, but the Senna family refused and wanted Senna to return on a Brazilian plane. Although contrary to the aviation policy, the request was granted in honor of Senna and her family. Senna’s body returned to Brazil in a Brazilian plane escorted by fighter aircraft.
Arriving in Brazil, Senna’s body has been eagerly awaited by the people of Brazil. 17 police motorbikes and 2500 police personnel escorted and secured the body of Senna from the airport to the funeral home.
It is estimated that as many as 3 million people filled Senna’s home area to participate in the mourning. Amazing is not it? This is recorded as the largest number of people gathered to mourn a death.
Not only in Brazil. Senna’s death was also commemorated in Japan. As we know, Senna won the Formula 1 world champion when she joined the Mclaren-Honda team. In addition, Senna also has a closeness with Japan after helping design one of Japan’s legendary cars, the Honda NSX .
The fans filled Honda’s headquarters in Tokyo, which usually displayed Mclaren’s cars every Formula 1 match. The lobby of Honda’s office was also filled with garlands of condolence marks. Even though that year Senna had not joined the Mclaren-Honda team. In addition, Mclaren did not use Honda-engined cars. But indeed Senna has become a figure loved by automotive fans in Japan.
In the next Formula 1 match session in Monaco, the first 2 starting grids were intentionally left blank. Both grids were painted with Brazilian and Austrian flags to honor Senna and Ratzenberger. What a heartbreaking moment.
Life Outside the Race
Ayrton Senna is known as a person who often expresses concern for poverty in Brazil. After her death, it was discovered that Senna had secretly donated millions of dollars of money to help poor children. The amount is estimated at around 400 million dollars. How much is that? Just count it yourself hehe.
Shortly before his death, Senna also drafted an organization for Brazilian children. The organization is now called the Instituto Ayrton Senna (IAS).
In his life, Senna is also known as someone who often analogues driving experience with life. One example of his famous quote is ” The harder I push, the more I find within myself. “
Towards the end of his life, Senna was seen often expressing concern about the dangers and safety of the racer profession. On the morning before his death, he was reportedly still talking about starting safety reforms in the Grand Prix Racer Organization ( GPDA ). It’s ironic, at the end of the day Senna was gone because of a fatal accident that claimed his life.