For many, Ayrton Senna was the greatest Formula One driver that ever lived. He was F1 champion three times, and started racing when he was only thirteen years of age. In this short Ayrton Senna biography, you will learn all about the man behind the success.
How It All Started
Ayrton Senna was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on the 21st March 1960. He came from a fairly well to do family, and his father, Milton da Silva was a factory owner and land owner. His mother is Neide Senna da Silva. His full name at birth was Ayrton Senna da Silva.
Senna was a very good athlete when he was a boy, and was excellent at gymnastics. He developed an interest in cars and racing when he was only 4 years old, and when he was 7 he was able to drive a jeep that was small and modified, around the farm that the family owned.
He attended the Colegio Rio Branco and did very well in mathematics, physics and chemistry. He stopped studying to pursue his interests in motor racing. His father made him a kart from a lawnmower engine.
When Ayrton was 13 he entered his first kart competition. He achieved pole position in this race. His father was very supportive and wanted to give Ayrton every chance, so he appointed a full time manager for him who was called Lucio Pascal Gascon.
Senna won his first real championship in 1977, which was the South American Kart Championships. He progressed from this to the Karting World Championships, and he was runner up in this competition in 1979 and 1980.
Motor Racing Career
Senna travelled to England in 1981 to take part in the Formula Ford 1600 Championships. He was able to win this single seater racing competition very easily. He went on to win the European Formula Ford 2000 Championship in 1982.
He entered the British Formula Three championships driving for the West Surrey racing team in 1983. He won this championship at the first attempt. In the same year he also won the Formula 3 Grand Prix in Macau. This attracted a lot of interest from F1 teams and many of them were after his signature.
The following year he joined the Toleman team and took part in the 1984 Formula One season. This was a small team which did not have the resources of teams like Brabham and McLaren. Despite this, he debuted in the Brazilian Grand Prix and picked up his first championship points in the second race.
In 1984 he amassed 13 points from 16 races and found himself on the podium three times. The next year he joined Lotus which was a much stronger team. In his second race he achieved pole position and went on to win the race. He concluded the year by finishing 4th overall with 7 pole positions in the Driver Championships.
The success continued in 1986 where he again achieved 4th place, and in 1987 he bettered this by finishing third in the Driver Championships. His first real triumph came in 1988 when he joined McLaren. His team mate was Alain Prost, who had won the championship twice. Senna won his first world championship that year just beating Prost by a single race. The two of them managed to win 15 out of the 16 races.
His success continued in 1990 and 1991 and he won both of the World Championships. He was totally idolised in Brazil by this stage, and he continued his racing success by finishing 4th in the 1992 season and 2nd in the 1993 season. In the 1994 season he moved over to the Williams team and turned down a $22 Million a year offer from Ferrari.
During the San Marino Grand Prix which was the third race of the season at Imola, Italy, Ayrton Senna crashed on a corner during the third lap. He was travelling at 233 km per hour when the crash happened. He did not survive the accident and F1 racing lost one of its greatest heroes.
Senna was only 34 when he died. His car smashed into a concrete wall. He suffered significant loss of blood and the medics performed a tracheotomy. He was taken by air to the Maggiore Hospital in Bologna, and he was declared dead there.
The Brazilian Government immediately declared 3 days of national mourning. Around three million people paid homage to one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. There was a 21 gun salute at his funeral, and the Brazilian Air Force flew 7 jets in a diamond formation.