May 1st 1994. A day that will forever remain etched on the minds of Motorsport fans the world over, it was the day the world lost one of the greatest racing drivers that ever lived; the day Ayrton Senna died at Imola.
It’s hard to write about Ayrton Senna because everything that could have been said about the great man has already been said. We’ve all seen the movie and we’ve all heard the stories and seen the racing but what about the Ayrton Senna that has been forgotten; his bad points and imperfections.
Sky Sports F1’s Senna Journalists Special highlighted a lot of Senna’s controversies. The show ruffled a lot of peoples feathers on twitter. A number of people have been accusing the show of being ‘disrespectful’ to Senna – it wasn’t, it was just offering a dose of reality to what is a tragic event. Murray Walker, David Tremayne and Maurice Hamilton gave some of the most honest insight into the Brazilian’s life you will ever wish to hear and they left no subject untouched.
All three men mention the fact that they don’t think Senna was the greatest driver; I disagree with that but opinion is opinion. The fact of the matter is, the majority of people view Senna’s career with rose-tinted glasses, in particular younger fans who base their ‘love’ of Senna on the feature film; which depicts the three time world champion as an angelic, untouchable and un-fairly treated hero.
Now don’t get me wrong I adore Senna. I never had the opportunity to see him race because he was unfortunately a little bit ahead of my time, but what I do know is everything I have heard and seen about Senna has left me inspired and in awe. But no one comes without their imperfections and I think a lot of people struggle to understand that.
With death comes immortality. Like Kurt Cobain, John Lennon and James Dean. The fact that Senna passed away in such a sad and shocking way at a fairly young age will make him timeless and free from criticism because it feels wrong to do so.
If Senna had survived the accident at Imola and was still around today people would probably take a look back on his career and the controversy that surrounded many moments with apprehension about how he did certain things. Like Suzuka 1990.
I can’t help but think that if this years World Championship comes down to the final race and someone like Sebastian Vettel deliberately took out Lewis Hamilton at turn one, fans would want the German’s head on a stick to parade through the streets with. But when Senna does it it’s somehow deemed to be acceptable?
I don’t want anyone reading this to think i’m being disrespectful because i’m not. All I want people to do after reading this is to take off those rose tinted glasses and remember Ayrton today for the way he was, imperfections included.
He was an enigma, a mystical man who was on occasion out of this world. He was honest and tenacious but reckless. Masterful in the wet and sublime in the dry. He was the toughest but also the most kind hearted. Most importantly though no matter what you think about Senna no matter how much you worship him we must remember one thing today on the 20th anniversary of his death. He was a human not a deity.
The most valuable lesson I have learned from the life of Ayrton Senna is no matter how many mistakes you make, no matter how many times you fail you have to get up, dust yourself off and work your arse off. The only person you should look up to and admire is yourself. Be a Senna fan by all means but don’t assume he was perfect and idolize him, live like Senna lived and be your own idol.
Ayrton Senna da Silva 1960-1994: “I have no idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.”