Ayrton Senna: The Legend

James RossiCorrespondent IJanuary 10, 2010

27 Apr 1997:  A monument to the late formula one driver, Ayrton Senna  who died in 1994 during the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola.  \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Cooper /Allsport
Michael Cooper/Getty Images

Ayrton Senna transcended sport. He is, and was, one of the few who manage to step outside of the circle named 'profession', and reach out to young and old, black or white, religious or non-religious. Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Pele, Churchill - he belongs in a select group that is known almost worldwide.

Many professionals profess to using the power of the mind over the power of the heart. They say that emotion mustn't rule over logic. Yet, is it not the power of the heart that brings out the best in all of us, the rawest of emotion, the best of performances? Do Formula 1 fans worldwide remember with more detail; Senna's blunt admission at deliberately taking out Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990 due to his grievances with the authorities, or Schumacher & Brawn's tactical 4-stop victory in Magny-Cours? 

You see, Ayrton Senna went beyond the "should I, or shouldn't I" moment when racing wheel to wheel at over 150mph. The thought of your family, your children, your livelihood, when weighing up a risk within a tenth of a second. This is what stops most drivers, successful or not. Ayrton Senna went past the point of self-preservation. He raced with his heart, which is why he was adored in his home nation, adored by all F1 romantics, adored by all who wanted to see a winner.

A deeply religious man, Senna was not just a sportsman, but a tremendously charismatic and philosophical individual. From his admission on a Monte Carlo qualifying lap that he realised he was no longer consciously driving his car (which proved correct, where he went over a second faster than the next fastest driver, Prost), to the revelation after his death that he had secretly given millions of his earnings to charities in Brazil, to the discovery of a furled Austrian flag in the wreckage of his fatal accident (in homage to Roland Ratzenberger, who had died the previous day)....he was a rare human being that wasn't commonly found in the ultra-rich, superficial world of professional sport.

In the age of corporate drivers that we live in now, the ilk of Senna has no room. Individuality and a 100% cast-iron will to win must now be tempered with politically correct interviews and verbal straight-jackets. We must never forget Senna, a gift from God that we might never see the like of again.