remember the legacy of the pilot who became Patron of Brazilian Sport

Three-time Formula 1 world champion, Brazilian died in an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix, in Italy, in 1994

Senna meets death on a curve Imola.” So reported the Estadão, 29 years ago, the death of Ayrton Senna da Silva. At the age of 34, the three-time world champion in Formula 1 crashed on the curve tamburello, on the Imola circuit, losing control of the car and crashing violently against the wall. Senna was rushed to the hospital, but succumbed to her injuries.

Three-time Formula 1 world champion and one of the greatest of all time, Senna scored 24,099 points

Three-time Formula 1 world champion and one of the greatest of all time, Senna scored 24,099 points

Photo: Disclosure / Estadão

The weekend of May 1, 1994 became known as one of the most tragic weekends in the category. On Friday, during free practice, Rubens Barrichello had a serious accident. In addition to Senna, the Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger also lost his life during the San Marino stage, in an accident suffered during qualifying on Saturday. Michael Schumacher was the winner of the race, but the atmosphere on the podium was dismal.

Senna was a notorious defender of pilots’ safety and his death revolutionized the category, which was forced to think about and implement dozens of new safety measures after the loss of its main active star. For Englishman Sid Watkins, former chief physician of F1 and a personal friend of Senna, the Brazilian’s death was essential for the safety of pilots around the world. “The loss of Ayrton Senna has already saved many lives, not just in F1, but in motorsport”, said the neurosurgeon in the early 2000s.

In an interview with Estadão last year, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa highlighted the importance of the changes that were made after May 1, 1994. “That weekend was the most important for the safety of Formula 1?, explained the ex-Ferrari. “From there Going forward, a whole lot of work was done to improve safety and the tracks. Thinking and mindset have completely changed. A weekend as ugly and sad as that ended up saving many lives from then on, until today.”

The impact of those accidents at Imola can be measured by the numbers. In the 1970s, F-1 recorded nine deaths. In the 1980s, that number dropped to four. The deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger were the only ones throughout the 90s. And, after that fateful GP in San Marino, the category suffered just one loss, 21 years later, with the death of Frenchman Jules Bianchi.

The creation of the Ayrton Senna Institute

Known for his social activism, Senna considered the struggle for education and better conditions for the most vulnerable to be extremely important. To his sister, Viviane Senna, the pilot confessed his desire to create a systematic action that could offer opportunities to low-income young people. Senna died before having his dream come true, but his family took his wish forward and founded the Ayrton Senna Institute in 1994.

The NGO is presided over by Viviane and in 2004 it was recognized as a Chair of Education and Human Development by UNESCO, something unprecedented for an NGO until then. The Institute operates in three areas: research and production of knowledge, the design of components for educational policies and the training of educators. In an interview with Estadão in 2018, Senna’s sister recalled the driver’s social concern.

“Ayrton never resigned himself to the reality of lack of opportunities that plagues most of the Brazilian people, and he always wanted to do something effective and efficient to change this reality. From this dream, the Ayrton Senna Institute was born, which is certainly the greatest legacy of the Ayrton off the slopes. After all, as he himself said, we can’t settle for living on an isolated island without looking at the world around us. Besides, it’s incredible to see the legacy of values ​​he left. Ayrton never won with the famous ‘Brazilian way’, because he knew that, to be truly victorious, perseverance, focus, courage, determination and hard work were needed. That’s how he became one of the greatest idols in our history.”

The Idolatry of Lewis Hamilton

The life of Ayrton Senna has already been portrayed on the big screen with the documentary “Senna: O Brasileiro, O Herói, O Campeão” (2010), but a fictionalized version of the pilot’s trajectory will arrive on Netflix in a six-episode miniseries. Starring actor Gabriel Leone, the production will show, according to the streaming service, “the trajectory of overcoming, disagreements, joys and sorrows of the three-time Formula 1 champion, exploring his personality and his personal relationships”.

“It’s an honor to be able to play one of the greatest national idols, not only in sport, but an icon that inspired our people and speed lovers around the world,” said Leone in a Netflix statement. Directed by Vicente Amorim and Julia Rezende, the production is led by Brazilian filmmaker Vicente Amorim and will feature the participation of the pilot’s family.

“He has a lot of potential to faithfully transmit Ayrton’s unique personality, especially the one that we as a family knew, off the track”, commented, in the statement, Viviane Senna. The starting point will be the beginning of Ayrton’s racing career, when he moves to England to compete in Formula Ford, until the tragic accident in Imola, Italy, during the San Marino Grand Prix. The release date has yet to be made official.

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