In sport, in the world of TV and film and even down the pub with your friends the phrase ‘such a legend’ is frequently overused. However, in the case of Ayrton Senna, the word legend is just one of the many titles used to describe the much loved and sorely missed Brazilian Master of Motorsport. It is no surprise to hear today that Ayrton Senna’s career will be celebrated at a Sao Paulo F1 Fan Festival…the only surprise is it took this long to happen.
Ayrton Senna da Silva was a Brazilian racing driver known amongst other things for winning three Formula One World Championships for McLaren (1988, 1990 and 1991) and having the most incredible on and off track rivalry with Alain Prost. Since his Formula One debut with Toleman-Hart in 1984 up to his tragic loss of life following an accident whilst leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix for Williams – Ayrton Senna always had the eyes of motorsport fans on him. When Ayrton Senna raced, the world of motorsport would hold its breath. On the occasions when Ayrton Senna raced in Brazil around the Interlagos Circuit the expectation of victory was huge and it is only fitting that Sao Paulo host such an event.
When Ayrton Senna did finally win the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1991, whilst racing with McLaren, the victory itself was the stuff of legends. Senna’s maiden Brazilian Grand Prix victory was achieved whilst being stuck in sixth gear and such was the level of his exhaustion that he needed help to get out of his red and white beast after the race. Anyone who has seen the sight of Senna holding aloft the Brazilian flag at Interlagos on March 24, 1991 need not see another image to realise exactly what Brazil meant to Senna and what Senna meant to Brazil. Ayrton Senna was victorious again in Brazil in 1993 thereby achieving 2 of his 41 F1 victories on home soil.
Such is the legend of the man (there really is no other word for it) that 25 years after one of the darkest days in motorsport, thousands will descend on Sao Paulo to celebrate the life of the master. On the 9th of November (one week before the 2019 F1 Brazilian Grand Prix) Sao Paulo will host The HEINEKEN F1 FESTIVAL -SENNA TRIBUTE which will be a free event, taking place at Ibirapuera Park (for those in Brazil) and will last 6 hours starting at midday.
This spectacle will feature modern F1 cars from Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport and the Renault F1 Team performing high speed car runs on the streets of Sao Paulo at the hands of their drivers, including Mercedes’ Esteban Gutierrez. As well as this, F1 legends including two-time FIA Formula One World Champion, Emerson Fittipaldi, (known as having a major influence on Senna’s career) and Felipe Massa will be part of the celebration by driving Senna’s historic cars.
On display will be the previously mentioned and legendary Toleman TG184 (Senna’s 1984 debut F1 car) as well as the iconic black and gold Lotus 97T (Senna’s first victorious F1 car in 1985). Not only will fans see the cars but they will hear them whilst they race at high speed through Sao Paulo.
Sean Bratches, Managing Director of Commercial Operations for Formula 1 makes clear why this has been arranged:
“Ayrton Senna is a true legend of our sport and his legacy is both immense and inspiring. It is our honour to bring Formula 1 to the streets of Sao Paulo with our partners Heineken to celebrate his life and his importance to the people of Brazil. We will be celebrating his life by giving fans the chance to get up close and personal with modern and historic F1 cars that will give them a once in a lifetime experience of the speed, sound and excitement that F1 has to offer. Brazil has a special place in the F1 family and we are really excited to bring this event to Sao Paulo a week before the Grand Prix at Interlagos.
Fortunately, for those of us unable to make the trip to Brazil, we can be sure that the event will be well documented following the recent way F1 has embraced social media. Whether in Sao Paulo or not you can be sure you will feel part of the event.
Ayrton Senna is remembered by his famous quote: “If you no longer go for a gap you are no longer a racing driver”
Well, you can rest assure that come November 9th there will not be many gaps to be found in the crowd at Sao Paulo such is, was and always will be the legend of Ayrton Senna.