As well as figures of Senna’s era, Formula One’s current stars have explained how the Brazilian influenced them as they progressed through the ranks.
Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button—who have eight world championships between them—have touched upon the impact of Senna’s death on F1’s safety standards, while explaining what the loss of the three-time title winner meant to them as youngsters.
Vettel, a four-time world champion, believes that the sport cannot become complacent in terms of safety, despite the fact that no driver has died in an F1 car since Senna’s demise 20 years ago.
The German told Adelaide Now:
Formula One is safer today but it is still not completely safe because there is still so much that can happen.
You must never feel too safe.
Unfortunately it always took accidents and negative events for us to learn the most.
There is always the possibility that something strange can happen with serious consequences.
Hamilton, Alonso and Button, meanwhile, have all been quoted by Ian Parkes of the Daily Mail in paying their respects to Senna.
Hamilton, who wears a Senna-esque yellow helmet—complete with green foam padding—said:
When I was a kid I had all the books, all the videos, he was the driver I looked up to, way before I even started racing. He kind of inspired me to be a driver, and of course, on the day of his passing, his death was...it was very difficult for me to show my emotions in my family so I went off to a quiet place and it was very difficult for several days...your hero's gone.
Alonso explained how the influence of Senna was unavoidable, even in Spain, a country with little F1 coverage and motorsport heritage at the time, stating:
He was an inspiration. I remember some of the races we could see in the news in Spain, because we didn't have the TV coverage of Formula One, but yeah, I remember I went to school—on my book, I didn't have (pictures of) girls, obviously I was too young to have girls on the book, but I had Ayrton there and the same in my room.
I had a big poster of Ayrton, and even my first go-karts were in the colours of Ayrton's McLaren because my father also liked him. It was a very sad moment (when he died).
Button has recalled how the news of Senna’s death impacted a karting event in Italy that weekend, saying:
I was 14 years old, still very young obviously, but I was racing in Italy that weekend, karting. I had just started racing there so it was a massive shock. Basically the kart meeting was over as soon as we heard the news from Imola. A horrific day for everyone, but sometimes it takes something like that—a terrible tragedy—to really change the sport for the better, and in terms of safety for us guys, it's had a very big impact.