25 years after his death, Ayrton Senna remains the last great Brazilian idol


Your helmet yellow with a fringe blue and other green he made history on the tracks and his genius marked a generation that learned from Brazilian Champion F1 Ayrton Senna, for many, the biggest sports myth in the country, to proudly shake the Brazilian flag.

When the pilot, just 34 years old, fell on May 1, 1994 against the wall of the Tamburello, in the Italian circuit of Imola, he not only remained silent in his native country. The accident shocked millions of people who watched on television in real time, the sad farewell of the charismatic and controversial icon.

A quarter of a century later, its image is still associated with trademarks and social campaigns; he is the last great Brazilian idol, for many even greater than the mythical King Pele.

"We lived in the 80s, with hyperinflation, was military dictatorship; It made little sense to feel pride in Brazil, but Senna circled the world carrying the flag as a symbol that made so many proud Brazilians"says Alexander Grünwald, a journalist specializing in motorsports.

According to Grünwald, Senna's legacy was "transforming the sport". Its differential, besides being an exceptional pilot, was to address other aspects, such as physical and mental preparation, understand the vehicle and the technology and take care of its image.

A survey carried out in 2014, on the twentieth anniversary of his death, showed that 47% of the inhabitants of his hometown, Sao Paulo, the most populous in Brazil, considered Senna as the biggest name of the national sport. Pele came in second with 23%.

"Pele lived for a while where people listened to football on the radio or read the newspaper. They did not live with the same intensity and emotion. With Senna, he went on Sundays with his family "in front of the television, explains Grünwald.

On Wednesday, the "Senna Day" at the Autodromo Interlagos, in São Paulo, with sports and cultural activities.


Triple World Champion with McLaren (1988, 1990 and 1991), where it shone from 1988 to 1993, Senna won a GP in three (35 wins in 96 races) with the British team.

From the early years on the team dates its famous international rivalry with the French Alain Prost, a team-mate who, after so much money and public money, visibly moved, would help carry Senna's coffin.

This antagonism is perhaps the most controversial point in his biography, addressed in books and documentaries. "Of course it was not perfect (…); had rivalries inside the track, but its positive aspects outweighed the negatives, "he says. Fred Sabino, journalist editor of Formula 1.

"Determination" and "dedication" are the words that are repeated when their close collaborators evoke their trajectory. There are also the values ​​recommended by the Ayrton Senna Institutewhich her sister Viviane founded in late 1994 to provide opportunities for children with limited resources.

Documentary and books They show a Senna committed to a mystical point with his career. In interviews, the pilot talks about his Catholic faith and how crucial it was for motorsport to keep mental work so strict that, he said, sometimes allowed him to climb to another dimension while maneuvering.

In the videos you see charismatic and cheerful. Slim and handsome, he sometimes seemed genuinely exalted, cheerful to tears or stiff with tension. Other images show a young Brazilian high class who enjoyed the pleasures of life champion of one of the most expensive sports in the world.

He had romances sounded with Xuxawell-known television star with Adriane Galisteu, then a young model with whom she shared her last months of life.


Before Senna, Emerson Fittipaldi (champion in 1972 and 1974) and Nelson Piquet (three-time champion in 1981, 1983 and 1987) placed Brazil on the world motorsport map. But then the line was cut off.

Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa, with eleven podiums each, but without world title, were in the last quarter of a century the greatest Brazilian exponents of F1. There are currently no circuits.

"There were some successes After Ayrton Senna, we had about fifteen years of achievements, but the lack of internal structure of the Brazilian motorsport did not allow this development, explains Grünwald.

Senna went the third rider in a line of champions (…) But in motorsport there is this cyclical thing. The names that came later ended up suffering a bit with allegations of a fanaticism that was used for the victories, "says Sabino.

"Senna was Brazil who worked, the great idol, a superhero (…) He ended up dying on the track, which also helped consolidate the myth, "he adds.


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