Remembering Ayrton Senna – The Man I Loved To Hate!

Its been 30 years since we lost one of the F1 greats, some would argue, the greatest of all time, Ayrton Senna. Jules retells watching the scenes live in 1994. 

There are moments in life that you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when something happened. Like the passing of Princess Diana, or the 9/11 terror attacks. I remember these as vividly as I do the time Ayrton Senna’s Williams hit the wall of the Tamburello corner at San Marino in 1994. But as a twelve-year-old obsessed with F1, this was the first time I had experienced one of these defining moments.

Remembering that crash

I was sitting in my front room watching it live on television with my father. The voice of Murrey Walker, the cloudy sky outside and the disturbing footage of Ayrton’s head slumped in the cockpit of the FW16 will forever live with me. Even with my lack of life experience, I instantly knew something bad just happened, but I didn’t know how bad. I can still remember the air ambulance, the marshals and medics all rushing around the scene and the belief that when he was taken away that he’d be okay. He was Ayrton Senna after all.

Then, the race restarted, and I watched on in silence with my father. The result became insignificant. I couldn’t even tell you who won that day, but I can tell you of the sadness and shock I felt when the news broke of Senna’s passing later that day. I felt compelled to pick up the telephone and call my best friend from primary school, someone I hadn’t spoken to in a couple of years. He was a massive F1 fan and we spent hours of our childhood playing Scalextric, the Formula One addition of course. He was Senna and I’d always be Mansell.

There’s little point writing about Ayrton Senna’s career highlights, everyone knows he was a three-time F1 World Champion, everyone knows about his feud and rivalry with Alain Prost, and everyone knows the tragic circumstances of how he lost his life to a sport that he lived for.

Why I love cars

I owe my passion for modified cars to growing up in the 80s and being an F1 fanatic. I loved the noise of the naturally aspirated V10s, the speed, the danger, BBC’s amazing opening credits flanked by the melody of Fleetwood Mac’s The Chain. But best of all, for those couple of ours on a Sunday, I could spend some alone time with my Dad, and for that I’ll be forever grateful.

We were both Nigel Mansell fans and because of this, we didn’t like Ayrton Senna, he was so good it was annoying.  I went to the 1991 British Grand Prix and one of the things I remember most about that day was an annoying Ayrton Senna fan sat in front of me shouting “Go on Senna my son” every time he lapped where we were sitting. As a 10-year-old, I couldn’t understand why a British man would support a Brazilian driver, when ‘Our Nige’ was fighting for the title.  But on the 1st of May 1994, when Senna’s death was announced my initial thoughts instantly landed with that fan from the 1991 British Grand Prix. How must he be feeling? His passion for Senna was the same as mine for Mansell. If the tables were turned, I’d have been devastated.

Respecting greatness

Today, I’m a huge Lewis Hamilton fan, and share the same dislike of Max Verstappen as I did Senna, but with 30-years of life experience in the bank, I now also have the humanity to respect the greatness of Max. Let’s face it, he’s annoyingly decent behind the wheel. I’ve also grown to love and respect Senna as one of the all-time greats. F1 has never been the same since that fateful weekend in 1994. Of course, we didn’t just lose Senna that weekend but also Roland Ratzenberger.

The 1994 F1 season will always be remembered for Senna’s death. The championship that year was won by Michael Schumacher and the last grand prix of the season was won by Nigel Mansell, driving Senna’s W16. There’s a picture on my office wall that sums up this whole article. It is of the iconic moment of Mansell giving Senna a lift back to the pits in his Williams at the 1991 British Grand Prix. A picture tells a thousand words, and this one definitely does for me.

The post Remembering Ayrton Senna – The Man I Loved To Hate! appeared first on Fast Car.

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