Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ayrton Senna had the good looks of a romantic hero

Death, perhaps inevitably, has lent Ayrton Senna's legend a romanticised sheen. The greatness of the man and the brilliance of his driving are remembered easily, the occasional darkness of his psyche perhaps less so. But it does Senna a disservice to honour only part of his legacy. The significance of his achievements cannot be properly understood without a full appreciation of their origins.

Ayrton Senna facts

World champion three times
161 grand prix starts
41 wins
65 pole positions
First race - 1984 Brazilian GP
First win - 1985 Portugese GP
Last win - 1993 Australian GP
Last race - 1994 San Marino GP

He had the good looks of a romantic hero, a charisma that could quieten any room, the eloquence of a poet and a spirituality with which millions felt they could identify. His dark eyes were windows to a soul of complexity and volatility. All that made him into a demi-god in his homeland of Brazil, and admired the world over like few sportsmen before or since.

But with that determination, and his own knowledge of just how good he was, came a sense of entitlement that was less attractive and which led him to take actions that put his own life - and the lives of his opponents - at risk.

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