A Racing Legend
Ayrton Senna da Silva 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, Senna won the British Formula 3 championship in 1983 and made his Formula One debut with Toleman the next year. He moved to Lotus-Renault in 1985, and won six Grands Prix over the next three seasons. In 1988 he joined Frenchman Alain Prost at McLaren-Honda, the top driver and team at the time, and won that year's championship. He and Prost developed a heated rivalry, which is regarded as the bitterest in F1 history. Senna won the championship twice more, in 1990 and 1991. In the next two years with McLaren, despite driving an inferior car, Senna won races and challenged for the 1993 world title, finishing runner-up to Prost. He switched to the then-dominant Williams Renault team for the 1994 season. At the third race of the year millions of fans witnessed his fatal crash live on global TV coverage during the San Marino Grand Prix.
During his Grand Prix racing career, Senna became an international sporting superstar. His wet weather driving skills were often showcased during his ten years in the sport, most notably in 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. He was recognized for his qualifying speed over one lap, as shown by his 65 pole positions in 162 races. His record six victories in the Monaco Grand Prix, the 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix win, and the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix win that earned him his first Drivers' title are some examples of his finest performances. Senna was also known for his ruthless will to win. This became evident most infamously during the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix in which Senna deliberately crashed his McLaren into Prost's Ferrari. Both drivers were eliminated from the race, which handed the title to Senna.
Also notable was the unique duality of his character. Senna's competitive nature 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.