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44 Facts About Ayrton Senna You Should Know

Ayrton Senna remains an iconic figure both on and off the track, with his unrivalled talent behind the wheel matched by his philanthropic nature and charismatic, humble persona. 

Unfortunately, his career was cut tragically short after a fatal accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, when Formula 1 lost one of its greatest ever drivers. Below, we take a closer look at some of the most interesting parts of Ayrton Senna’s career.

Table of Contents

1. When Was Ayrton Senna Born?

Ayrton Senna was born on the 21st of March 1960, in Santana, a neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil. He was born Ayrton da Silva but would later switch to his mother’s maiden name ‘Senna’ after he deemed ‘da Silva’ too common of a surname in his native Brazil.

2. When Did Ayrton Senna Start Go Karting?

Ayrton Senna got his first go-kart when he was 4 years old. His first race took place when he was 9 years old, around the streets of Campinas in Sao Paulo. His first official race took place at the Interlagos Go-Kart Track when he was 13 years old.

3. How Did Ayrton Senna Get Into F1?

Ayrton Senna got into F1 after moving to Norwich, England in 1981 and competing in the Formula Ford 1600 Championships. He was then offered a Formula Ford 2000 seat, before working his way up to Formula 3. By 1984 he was test driving for multiple F1 teams, before receiving a full-time F1 seat.

4. When Did Ayrton Senna Join F1?

Ayrton Senna joined F1 in 1984, racing for Toleman. Senna had impressed multiple teams during his spell as an F1 test driver but was denied places in more competitive teams for a variety of reasons, including sponsorship agreements and nepotism.

5. Why Is Ayrton Senna Famous?

Ayrton Senna is famous for his exciting, aggressive driving style that earned him 3 World Championships in a career tragically cut short after a fatal accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. He is also known for his intense on-track rivalry with Alain Prost.

6. Why Is Senna Loved So Much?

Ayrton Senna is adored by so many due to both his on-track genius and his humble and witty persona off-track. He has an almost god-like status in his native Brazil as he provided his people with hope and respite during times of intense political unrest and poverty. 

7. Why Is Ayrton Senna The Best F1 Driver?

Ayrton Senna is often regarded as the best F1 driver because of his unprecedented driving style and desire to win. He is also revered for his wet weather performances and his ability to push a car beyond its technical capabilities, completing some of the most impressive laps in F1. 

8. Was Ayrton Senna From A Rich Family?

Ayrton Senna was born into a wealthy family. His father was a car trader before moving into the metal industry where he made most of his money. He was also a landowner, with multiple farms and livestock. 

9. Was Ayrton Senna Rich Before F1?

Ayrton Senna had a privileged upbringing compared to many in 1960s Brazil. He was never under pressure to race for money before F1, and it was instead his sheer passion for racing that got him into the sport.

10. Why Was Senna So Fast?

It was Ayrton Senna’s determination and will to win that made him so fast. He was also undeterred by the limitations of his car and would drive as aggressively as possible around the track. He would also jab repeatedly at the throttle to maintain traction, something that no other driver would do. 

11. Why Was Senna So Good In The Rain?

Ayrton Senna was so good in the rain because of his extensive knowledge of how to handle corners in wet conditions. He would use puddles on the track to help slow him down, whereas most drivers would avoid them because of the risk of aquaplaning. 

12. Was Ayrton Senna An Aggressive Driver?

Ayrton Senna was one of the most aggressive drivers that Formula 1 has ever seen. He wasn’t afraid to take risks out on track, sometimes driving recklessly in order to win. He would brake very late going into corners, unafraid of the consequences, having confidence in his car and abilities. 

13. What Did Senna Drive?

Ayrton Senna drove for 4 different teams during his time in Formula 1. He drove for Toleman, Lotus and McLaren, before moving to Williams, where he would race his last race in 1994. Senna would enjoy his best years at McLaren, where he won his 3 World Championships.

14. What Was Senna’s Bizarre F1 Technique?

Ayrton Senna’s bizarre F1 technique was to stab the throttle when coming out of corners. Although it was never picked up by the TV cameras, you could hear it when listening to his engine. He was the only driver to use this technique.

15. Why Did Senna Stab The Throttle?

Ayrton Senna would stab the throttle to help his car regain traction when coming out of corners. This would help him test the car’s limits as well as gain extra speed upon exit. He is said to have developed this technique during his karting days. 

16. Was Ayrton Senna Left Handed?

Ayrton Senna was left-handed. Some believe this helped him gain an advantage over his rivals, but it was truly his incredible technique and aggression that gave him the edge, and not his favored hand. 

17. Was Ayrton Senna In Ferrari?

Ayrton Senna never drove for Ferrari. He drove for 4 teams during his time in F1, these being Toleman, Lotus, McLaren and Williams. He was in talks with the Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo about potentially joining them before his untimely death at the San Marino Grand Prix.

18. Why Didn’t Senna Go To Ferrari?

Ayrton Senna had a meeting before the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix with Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo about joining the team the following year. However, Senna was tragically killed during the race, putting an end to what would have been a dream move for many F1 fans.

19. What Was Ayrton Senna’s Best Lap?

Ayrton Senna’s 1988 pole lap at Monaco is often regarded as the best F1 qualifying lap of all time. Senna outperformed his teammate, the great Alain Prost, beating him by 1.4 seconds. It truly set the precedent of what was to come during Senna’s time at McLaren.

20. What Was Ayrton Senna’s Best Overtake?

Some of Ayrton Senna’s best overtakes came during the 1993 European Grand Prix at Donington Park, England. Senna overtook four cars on the first lap of the race in very wet conditions, proving himself to be arguably the greatest wet weather driver of all time.

21. What Was Ayrton Senna’s Best Season?

1988 is considered as Ayrton Senna’s best season. He would go on to win 8 of the 16 races, one more than his teammate and rival Alain Prost in a season dominated by the two McLarens. He would also manage to achieve pole position in all but three races. Senna won the championship by three points.

22. What Was Senna’s Best Track?

Some of Ayrton Senna’s best performances came at Monaco. He holds the record for the most wins there with 6 and has since been dubbed the ‘King of Monaco’ by many reporters and fans. Senna won the Monaco Grand Prix five times in a row between 1989 and 1993.

23. What Was Ayrton Senna’s Racing Number?

Ayrton Senna never settled with one racing number during his career. His first was 19, before switching to 12 during his time with Lotus and during his first season at McLaren. He would switch to number 1 after his first Championship win in 1988. His last number at Williams was 2. 

24. Is Ayrton Senna’s Number Retired?

Ayrton Senna’s number was never retired in F1 as he didn’t settle for one number throughout his career. He used a variety of numbers including 19, 12, 27, 8, 2 and of course 1, after his World Championship winning seasons.

25. How Long Did Senna Drive In F1?

Ayrton Senna drove in F1 for just over 10 years, before his career was tragically cut short after a fatal accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola. He was active between 1984-1994.

26. Were Ayrton Senna And Alain Prost Teammates?

Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were teammates at McLaren from 1988 to 1989. This was the start of a fierce 5-year rivalry that resulted in many contentious moments, none more so than at the Japanese GP in 1989, where the two collided on the penultimate lap, costing Senna the championship.

27. Were Ayrton Senna And Nelson Piquet Teammates?

Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet were never teammates during their time in F1. Piquet was in the latter stages of his career when Senna was entering the sport, with Piquet ending his F1 career in 1991.

28. Was Ayrton Senna Better Than Michael Schumacher?

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of the inevitable Michael Schumacher vs Ayrton Senna rivalry. Schumacher ended up overtaking Senna in terms of Championship victories, although Senna could have potentially won a couple of them had his fatal accident not happened. 

29. Is Lewis Hamilton Better Than Ayrton Senna?

Whether Lewis Hamilton is better than Ayrton Senna or not is very much down to personal preference. It must be said that they both raced in different generations, in very different cars, and so simply comparing the numbers of wins and similar statistics does not yield a fair comparison.

30. What Turn Did Senna Die On?

Ayrton Senna died after losing control on the Tamburello corner (Turn 1) at the Autodromo Internazionale Enzo e Dino Ferrari, Imola. The fatal crash prompted the Tamburello corner to be redesigned as a left-right chicane rather than a sweeping left turn. A gravel trap was also added.

31. What Caused Ayrton Senna To Crash?

Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash was caused by a failure in his steering column. This fault stemmed from poorly executed modifications made to the steering of the car upon Senna’s request that the positioning of the steering wheel to his seating position be changed.

32. Did Schumacher Cause The Senna Crash?

Michael Schumacher did not cause Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash. Senna was under pressure from Schumacher going into turn 1 after a safety car, but ultimately a failure in the steering column, along with cold tires, was at fault for the crash. 

33. How Fast Was Ayrton Senna Going When He Died?

Ayrton Senna entered the Tamburello corner at 192 mph (309 kph), before braking hard and impacting a concrete wall at 131 mph (211 kph). The crash caused his front right tire and nose cone to be ripped off the car. Senna succumbed to his severe head injuries.

34. Was Ayrton Senna Killed Instantly?

Ayrton Senna wasn’t killed instantly, but his neurological signs suggested that his brain stopped functioning after the initial impact with the wall. His heart stopped beating at around 18:30 later that day. Under Italian law, his official time of death was 14:17, the moment of impact.

35. How Many G’s Was Ayrton Senna’s Crash?

It’s unclear how many G’s Ayrton Senna’s crash was, but it was likely more than 50 G. The trajectory of the car, coupled with the speed at which he was travelling, meant that the cornering forces on Ayrton Senna’s car more than doubled, from 1.5 G to 3.27 G, but the force of impact was unclear. 

36. Who Was At Fault For Senna’s Crash?

For a long time, the blame for Ayrton Senna’s crash was attributed to driver error. However, an inquest found that the crash was caused by a failure in the steering column brought on by poorly executed modifications made by Williams engineers.

37. Would Senna Have Won In 1994?

Ayrton Senna would have faced strong competition from eventual championship winner Michael Schumacher, as well as his Williams teammate Damon Hill. However, you could never write Ayrton Senna off, although he did have 2 DNFs at the first two races of that season, one not being his fault.

38. How Many Championships Would Ayrton Senna Have Won?

It is difficult to say how many championships Ayrton Senna would have won if his career wasn’t cut short. He still had plenty of motivation to carry on racing, and if a potential move to Ferrari would have materialized, the chances of him winning multiple more championships would have been high.

39. Was Ayrton Senna In IndyCar?

Ayrton Senna never raced in IndyCar. He did however take part in a test run of Penske’s PC21 car around the Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona in 1993. After the session, Senna told Brazilian TV that he was waiting for the right time to take part in an IndyCar race. 

40. When Did Senna Say If You No Longer Go For A Gap?

Ayrton Senna said his famous line, “If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver” when interviewed by former F1 champion Jackie Stewart at the 1990 Australian GP. The comment was in response to Stewart bringing up multiple collisions that Senna had been involved in.

41. How Much Money Did Ayrton Senna Make?

Ayrton Senna made a lot of money from his time in F1. He was contracted to a $20 million a year wage during his final year in F1 with Williams in 1994. His global acclaim also earned him numerous sponsorships and brand endorsements, making him one of the richest drivers on the grid in his time.

42. What Was Ayrton Senna’s Net Worth?

At the time of his death, Ayrton Senna had a net worth of about $200 million. In today’s money, accounting for inflation, that works out to be around $380 million.

43. Who Inherited Ayrton Senna’s Money?

As Ayrton Senna was unmarried and without children, it is likely that his fortune was inherited by his parents and two siblings. He was also a generous donor to various charities, and after his death his family set up the Instituto Ayrton Senna, which has raised over $80 million for multiple causes.

44. Where Is Ayrton Senna’s Car Now?

Ayrton Senna’s former cars have long been stored around the world, with some at McLaren’s headquarters in Woking, England. Most recently, his McLaren MP4/5A-06 was sold at auction for around $5.2 million. As most buyers choose to remain anonymous, we may never know the location of all his cars.