Today in Automotive History: Ayrton Senna Dies

19 years ago today, one of the most brilliant Formula 1 racers of all time, Ayrton Senna, was killed during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in Italy. Only 34 years old, Senna’s legacy as the world’s best racer was cemented in 1988, when he became World Champion for the first time, despite teammate Alain Prost scoring more points. Their rivalry that began during the 1988 season continued well until Prost’s retirement after the 1993 season. That rivalry serves as a centerpiece to the brilliant 2010 documentary Senna, which includes Prost’s royal screwing of Senna at the 1989 Japanese GP (watch it here if you have Netflix. Even if you don’t know a thing about racing, it’s still a fantastic watch). Senna regained his Champion status in 1990 and again in 1991.

Senna fought many battles on and off the race track, whether it was him versus other drivers or FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre, but he constantly fought for more safety regulations in F1, an inherently dangerous sport. The morning of his death, Senna met with other drivers in an attempt to force greater safety conditions as a result of the previous day’s death of Roland Ratzenberger during qualifying for the San Marino GP. More stringent regulations appeared in F1 soon after as a result of his and Ratzenberger’s passings. Here are just a few highlights from Senna’s remarkable career.

Ayrton Senn’a First Pole Position and Win in Formula 1

1989 Japanese Grand Prix – Senna vs. Prost

Senna Allows Teammate Gerhard Berger to Win 1991 Japanese Grand Prix

Senna Rushes to Help Crashed Éric Comas

From 5th to 1st in One Lap – 1993 European Grand Prix:


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About Cameron Rogers

Cameron Rogers is the founder and lead writer at Downshift Autos, the only automotive blog on the Internet*. Born in the back of an AMC Gremlin, Cameron vowed to never let this extraordinarily embarrassing detail define him, so help him God. He drives a GTI but absolutely will not shut up about it if somebody asks. He will not hesitate to let people know that no, they shouldn't get a Porsche 911 when a Morgan 3 Wheeler is so obviously the superior choice. He is obsessed with the seats of a Carrera GT and the steering wheel of a Fisker Karma. He once sat in the driver's seat of a Tesla Model S, his greatest accomplishment to date. He is just now realizing that writing an autobiography, however miniscule, in the third person is odd and unnerving. *As of this writing, Cameron has been informed that there are, in fact, many websites and blogs centered around cars and car culture. He regrets his grievous error.

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