Ayrton Senna raced for only 10 years before his untimely death on the track, but he will always be considered as one of the best drivers in Formula One history. A sporting great, a cult hero, a philanthropist, and above all a driver who made the sport thrilling and one who changed the sport in both life and death.
He was immortalised for the way he raced even before his death at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. But after, he became a guiding light for generations of racers to come.
A three-time World champion, the Brazilian still features in the top five drivers in history when it comes to race wins (41) and pole positions (65). To this day, more than 25 years after his accident, he is widely regarded as the epitome of ‘pure racing’.
He won the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in 1988, 1990 and 1991 and it is often said that had he been alive, Michael Schumacher would not have won his first world title in 1994.
What set the racer apart was his style of driving, how he could perform in rainy, wet and dangerous conditions and how he could coax the absolute best out of any car, even with technical limitations, as he did when he won his first race driving a below-par Toleman.
Of course, he also had his fair share of reckless moments in the dangerous sport. He could be ruthless on the track, with more collisions than any other race driver in his quest for the win. He could defend his position and could overtake cars with audacious moves. His wet-weather driving looks frightening on video, but the way he buzzed past on tired tyres, faltering engines, numb shoulders is just part of his legend.
In many ways, his enduring legacy is how his death transformed the sport as the safety rules changed and made F1 safer. But his skill and style of driving also changed how F1 cars were made, even when he was alive.
For those of us who could not watch Senna race in his prime, the old videos and the 2010 documentary directed by Asif Kapadia titled Senna gives us some idea about how the legend was behind the wheel.
Here’s a list of his top 10 moments compiled by Formula One, including his blistering laps during practise, his insane close-driving skills and of course, one of his greatest wins – the 1991 Brazilian GP where he won with just one gear available.