Ayrton's alphabet

A as Ayrton Senna da Silva, born in Sao Paulo, Brazil March 21, 1960, who becomes a legend too early, on 1 May 1994 at Imola, at the seventh lap of the San Marino Grand Prix. In 1983, during the British Formula 3 Championship (which he wins), Ayrton decides to take his mother's surname, “Senna”, which is less common than the paternal one “Da Silva”: a tribute to the figure of his mother, fundamental presence in his life.

B as Brazil, a troubled land of a thousand shades; if today it is picking up, twenty years ago, it was in a full crisis. Senna, he was the ambassador of Brazil almost unintentionally, its spontaneous flag, symbol of revenge for a generation, that thanks to him began proud to say "I'm Brazilian".

C as the World Championships in Formula 1: Senna wins them three times, in the years 1988, 1990 and 1991, with the English team McLaren, which is always motorized by the Japanese Honda.

D as Lucio Dalla: as a good Emilian, the passion for cars flows into his blood as fuel in the cylinders, and he expresses it in some of his songs; "Nuvolari" (from the album "Cars" of 1976) is a cheerful and carefree photography of the races of last century, in order to celebrate, in particular, the Mantua pilot’s career. "The engine of 2000" (a song from the same album), is a vision or a hope for the future of men and cars, and the track "Ayrton" (from the album "Songs" of 1996) is a pure poem dedicated to the disappearance of the Brazilian driver : a delicate and a touching song.

E as Estoril: on this circuit, in 1985, Senna wins for the first time in a match valid for the championship of Formula 1, running with his Lotus-Reanult, in his second year in the category (he debuts in the Brazilian GP 1984 on Toleman-Hart). Under a deluge similar to that universal, he wins by surpassing Michele Alboreto on his Ferrari, and all the others, from the third down, dubbed. Yes, you read that right: he dubbes everyone.

F as Funerals. Before taking off to return the body of Senna in Brazil, the commander of the plane announces that he systematically refuses to follow the rules, according to which the coffin has to be placed in the hold. By removing some seats, the driver travels above the Atlantic accompanied by the prayers of passengers, before returning home. From the building of the Government of the State of São Paulo, then to the cemetery in Morumbi, a crowd, unprecedented for a sports man, never stops, never to pray, never to cry and to thank him for what he had done for his country. Five million of Brazilians give him their best homage.

G as Grida, which means “Shout”. Senna screams at the end of the Interlagos GP (Brazil) in 1991, where he wins with his McLaren-Honda having two gears missing and the gearbox failure after the race. All pilots had all three pedals and a real shift lever, and at most a dozen buttons for the set-up on the steering wheel, things that now seem to be prehistoric.

H as Honda. The Japanese house motoring sees good when someone points out a young Brazilian by the potential astonishing debut in Formula 1 in the mid-eighties; from that moment, the link between the pilot and the Eastern engineers is constant and profitable: it lasts since Ayrton’s last time with Lotus (1987) until his victories with McLaren (1988-1992).

I as Italy. There is also a bit of "beautiful country" in the career of Senna, and this is why he also speaks a good Italian. It all goes back to his beginning with the kart: after the Brazilian success in the national categories, a young Ayrton arrives in Italy to reach the team that hires him, the Dap, which runs the world championships of 1979 and 1980; he wins the title in both the occasions.

L as Lotus. It’s the English team among the most famous in the history of Formula 1, founded by Colin Chapman; the Lotus has written many pages of F1 in the sixties and eighties with its technological innovations and mechanic, its great pilots and technical genius. In 1985 the team takes with a three-year contract a young Brazilian, who makes his debut with Toleman in the previous year, and who brings to the English team important points. The boy promises very well and he is the so called Ayrton Senna.

M as McLaren, the team of the absolute consecration of Senna: six years -from 1988 to 1993-, three world titles for Ayrton, four for the team managed by Ron Dennis. It is among the rulers of Formula 1 in the late eighties - early nineties. Even a Ferrari fan pulls down his hat, or at least he should do that.

N as Vittoria Negata, which means Denied Victory. Senna could have already won in 1984, in his debut with Toleman, during the GP of Monaco. During the race, a real deluge comes down on the circuit and Ayrton is recovering one position after, by driving in the wet as no one. While he is in second position, the marshals decide to stop the race for safety reasons, so freezing positions just as Senna is about to pass the rider in front of him on the start-finish straight; the pilot who wins that race is Alain Prost with McLaren.

O as Obstructionism, which obvious one made by the FIA (International Automobile Federation) against Senna, who maybe is not politically correct but always direct in saying what he thinks, especially about driver safety or fairness of the Federation judgment itself on certain occasions. Memorable are the "barbs" between Senna and the then president of the FIA, Jean-Marie Balestre, during the pre-race meeting with all the drivers and the commissioners of the circuit.

P as Alain Prost: four times world F1 champion between the eighties and nineties. Great talent, he is called "the Professor" for a reason: he is managed to not mistreat much his car and to use it the most in case of duels after the race, witha usually impeccable tactic. Too good and too different from Senna, who he will meet: the rivalry between them can hardly find comparisons even vaguely similar in the Formula 1 today. They hate each other, maybe, but always with respect, even when it seemed not so.

Q as Quasi Assente which means Almost Absent. During GP official practice on Saturday for the pole position, Senna is so concentrated as to seem absent, in meditation, on another world, almost always sitting for long minutes aboard his car, watching the times of the other drivers who are already on track and its data collected in the days before. Then, he wears his helmet and gloves in the last few minutes valid and, very often, he goes to conquer the pole position.

R as Record. Senna is the rider to have won more pole in relation to the Great Prix (65), the third driver for the number of victories (41) and 5 of them are consecutives on the same circuit ( he obtains 5 wins at Montecarlo). Ayrton's records remain unbeaten for a long time, until the arrival of the Ferrari team with Schumacher in the early 2000s; they have had to struggle a lot to beat them.

S as Senna Foundation. It is founded by Ayrton's family and is particularly cared by his sister Viviane, since his death; it is among the most important non-profit private entities in the world that deals with child care on many aspects: education, health, education, sports, culture. The foundation is maintained thanks to the image rights of the brands associated with the figure of Senna, which his family devolves entirely to the initiative. For some years, among the main contributors free of charge beneficiaries, there was Alain Prost.

T as Talent. He is among the best drivers of modern Formula 1 races on a dry track; in races with the rain he is still considered as -The Talent-. Maybe Today some drivers have a good control of the car on a wet track, some above average, but they aren't quick and light like him: they will never be like Ayrton.

U as Humanity. Huge, overflowing, spontaneous, sincere, even more poignant when you consider the hectic world and cynical that it was becoming the Formula 1 in the years of Senna's career. Two examples to make the idea: in the cockpit of his Williams, after the latest incident at Imola in '94, it is found an Austrian flag that Ayrton has hoped to wave after winning or, at least, after have reached the podium, to commemorate Roland Ratzenberger, the pilot who dies the previous day, during tests on board of his Simtek Ford. Since that incident, he is among the few to sustain until the last that the race cannot be disputed in respect of the Austrian colleague.

V like Victory. Winning is the only thing that Ayrton thinks while he is on the track; he says: "It is the will to win that pushes me to move forward. This is my greatest motivation, the desire to win is what pushes me to compete." and "I want to win all the time. The vision according to which the most important thing is to compete, is an absurdity."

Z as Uncle. "If you think I'm good, wait until you see my nephew Bruno" says an encouraging uncle Ayrton about his nephew Bruno Senna. It is 1993, and in subsequent years Bruno has some exploits in the lower formulas, before arriving in Formula 1. But between technical and personal difficulties, the favorite nephew has never sparkled in the category, also thinking to stop running; he has recently found enthusiasm and some victories in the World Endurance Championship: viewing a Senna on a world podium makes always a certain effect.

Dario Buzzoni