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|Formula One World Championship career|
|Active years||1984 - 1994|
|Teams||Toleman Hart, Lotus, McLaren Honda, Williams|
|Championships||3 (1988, 1990, 1991)|
|First race||1984 Brazilian Grand Prix|
|First win||1985 Portuguese Grand Prix|
|Last win||1993 Australian Grand Prix|
|Last race||1994 San Marino Grand Prix|
Ayrton Senna da Silva (March 21, 1960 – May 1, 1994), better known as Ayrton Senna, was a Brazilian Formula 1 driver who won the championship three times, in 1988, 1990 and in 1991. He died in an accident that took place on the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, better known as Imola, in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. He is considered by many people to be the most skilled driver in the history of motor racing.
Life before Formula 1 Racing
Senna was born in São Paulo, a city in Brazil. When he was four years old, he first got into a kart. When he was 13, he entered a karting competition for the first time. A fun fact is that he started his first kart race on pole position. The start places were written on pieces of paper and put in a driver's helmet, and he drew number one. Because he was a lot lighter than the other racers, he was much faster than all of them. He won the South American Kart Championships in 1977 and was runner-up in the World Championship, but he never won it.
In 1981 he raced in the British Formula Ford 1600 championship, and won it as well. He also changed his name to Senna, since da Silva is used a lot in Brazil.
In 1982 Senna won two European championships; the European and the British Formula Ford 2000. After testing with Williams, McLaren, Brabham and Toleman, he got a place within the Toleman team for the 1984 Formula One season.
Into Formula One
The Toleman team was a very small team compared to other famous teams like Williams, McLaren and Brabham. Even though, the team built a car good enough to let Senna impress with his talents. Ayrton Senna scored his first championship point on April 7, 1984 at the South African Grand Prix. Three races later, Senna impressed at the Monaco Grand Prix, where it was raining. Senna started on the 13th position, but right after the race started, he soon was gaining position after position on the track that is known for its small roads. On the 19th lap, he took second place from Niki Lauda and was making up a lot of time to the race leader, Alain Prost. It started to rain harder and the race was stopped on the 31st lap. Even though almost everyone agrees Senna should have won the race, Senna had a result to be proud of. In the rest of the season he would finish third place in two races, the Britisch and the Portuguese Grand Prix. He finished his first year in Formula One racing on a shared 9th position and 13 points, sharing his 9th position with Nigel Mansell.
Senna did not just race in Formula One that year. He also co-drove a Porsche 956 with Henri Pescarolo and Stefan Johansson in the 1000km Nürburgring race. He also raced in a race to celebrate the opening of the new Nürburgring. He won this race.
Ayrton's Years With Lotus
The following year, joined the Lotus team, and many thought he would be able to meet his potential. The other driver for Lotus was Elio De Angelis. Ayrton scored his first of 65 pole positions in his career during the Brazilian Grand Prix, but was not able to win the race. He retired with an electrical problem after 48 laps. He did not had to wait a long time for his first ever victory in Formula 1, however, because he won the next race, the Portuguese Grand Prix starting off from pole position again. He showed his true talent driving in such bad weather which even later champion Alain Prost could not race in (he spun into a wall). The rest of the season was not too good for Senna though. He scored a lot of points but often retired because of mechanical problems. He won the Belgian Grand Prix in another wet race and finished 4th at the end of the season, scoring 38 points total. He also took two first places, two second places, two third places and seven pole positions.
His second season with Lotus, in 1986, was better than his first. The Lotus Car was a lot more reliable. He finished second in the Brazilian Grand Prix, with only Nelson Piquet being faster than Ayrton. He even took the lead in the World Championship standings during the Spanish Grand Prix after managing to keep Nigel Mansell away from stealing the victory. The gap between both drivers was only 14 thousand of a second. He did not have a lot of time to enjoy his lead, however, because his Lotus did not have the reliability Ayrton needed to chase after the title.
Complete Formula One results
(key) (Races in bold indicate pole position; races in italics indicate fastest lap)
- Official Ayrton Senna Website (in Portuguese)