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Ayrton Senna

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Ayrton Senna da Silva(March 21, 1960 – May 1, 1994) was a Brazilian racing driver and triple Formula One world champion. He remains the last Grand Prix driver killed while driving a Formula One car.A kart racer from an early age, he won the British Formula 3 championship in 1983 and made his Formula One debut with Toleman the next year. He moved to Team Lotus in 1985 and won six races there over the course of three seasons. He joined Frenchman Alain Prost at McLaren-Honda in 1988 and won the Formula One World Championship. He developed a heated rivalry with Prost, one of the most bitter in F1 history. Senna won the championship twice more, in 1990 and 1991, the former decided in a controversial manner by a collision in one of the final races with Prost who was then a Ferrari driver. In the next two years with McLaren, despite driving an inferior car, Senna won eight races and finished runner-up for the world title in 1993. He switched to the then-dominant Williams Renault team for the 1994 Formula One season, taking three poles but never finishing a race; millions of fans witnessed his death live in global TV coverage during that year’s San Marino GP at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari.His near victory during the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix despite an inferior car, his dominant first victory in the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix and his acclaimed 1993 European Grand Prix victory, all of them in extremely rain-affected conditions, showed his talent in wet weather driving. He was the fastest driver of his era over one lap, as shown by his 65 pole positions in 162 races. His record six victories in the Monaco Grand Prix, and his 1988 Japanese Grand Prix win that earned him his first Drivers’ title are several examples of his finest performances. His racing skills and personality earned him a place in motorsport history, and comparisons to Grand Prix legend Juan Manuel Fangio.Known for his ruthless will to win, some believe he occasionally crossed the fairness line, most infamously during the penultimate 1990 Japanese Grand Prix. Senna was narrowly leading in the drivers’ standings, and deliberately crashed his McLaren into Alain Prost’s Ferrari.Both were eliminated from the race, which prevented Prost from earning the points needed to sustain the title fight, allowing Senna to clinch the championship. In contrast, Prost’s more subtle use of a deliberate crash to defeat Senna the preceding year was largely ignored. Williams teammate Damon Hill has suggested that Senna “would often prefer to crash into his opponent rather than be defeated”.Senna’s aggression had inspired Michael Schumacher, an F1 great who idolized Senna and had who also had a similar streak of controversy through his career.Competitive and unwilling to settle for second, his style consisted of pushing the car to its limits and going flat out, a stark contrast to the relaxed intellectual style of his nemesis Prost.Having won drivers’ titles with McLaren in 1988 and 1990-91, their unreliable car which led to dismal 1992 season had Senna almost exiting the team. Without a vacant seat in another frontrunning team, as signing with the reigning champion Williams was blocked by arch-rival Prost, Senna almost considered leaving F1 for CART, before McLaren convinced the Brazilian to stay for 1993. Having been passed by Michael Schumacher whilst in the pits during the 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix, Senna pushed too hard attempting to regain the lead and stalled, causing him to retire. A poor start to the 1994 season led Senna to placing utmost importance on a victory in San Marino in order to sustain the title fight, which was perhaps a factor in his fatal accident there.Also notable was the unique duality of his character. Senna’s intense and unyielding will to win on the track, was in stark contrast to his humane and compassionate exploits off it. A deeply religious man, he reportedly donated the bulk of his fortune to create the “Ayrton Senna Foundation”, with the aim of helping poor and needy young people in Brazil and around the world. Eventually becoming concerned with the potential dangers of his sport, he helped to push for the organization of a driver safety group shortly before his final race.

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