I've been watching Formula One since I can remember. I am 22-years-old and I can still remember May 1st, 1994. I was eight and I don't think I have ever cried so hard in my life. That was the day I never thought would come, the day my immortal hero was gone, the day Ayrton Senna left this world.
With Senna's death, the F1 world seemed to have a black hole that couldn't be filled. Michael Schumacher burst into the scene that same year and took the next two championships, but then came an era of non-spectacular, non-charismatic champions like Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, and Mika Hakkinen. Finally, in 2000, we saw Schumi back on top and in 2001 came a driver who looked like he could have some legendary battles with the German, Juan Pablo Montoya.
However, the Ferrari was unbeatable for four years and the seasons were boring, and the greatest racing series in the world turned into a never-ending red parade. So in came Fernando Alonso and a Renault team that for two years was king. There was a clear changing of the guard once again. Alonso was bold, brash, and daring, but still, something was missing. I missed the old two or three team battles, the pure dislike felt by Senna towards Prost, and the great abundance of talent from the 80's and 90's.
And suddenly in 2007, it began to happen.
Ferrari had two drivers at a similar level, McLaren had two teammates who despised each other, and the bitterness translated beautifully on the track. It didn't matter whether you were an Alonso fan or a Hamilton fan, you had to love their battles and their Senna-Prost like hatred for one another. In some strange way it was also a perfect ending—Hamilton and Alonso winding up empty-handed, in part due to their struggles against each other, and Raikkonen strolling in, taking the title in the final race.
F1 was back to what it once was, people were bickering and fighting, but most importantly, the talent was incredible on both the dominant teams.
Could 2008 get any better? It turns out it could. Just add a third dominant team, take Alonso back to the squad that brought him success, and mix in a 21-year-old driver with so much talent who could bring the team that used to be perennial losers, Minardi, their first ever win in Formula One.
14 years have passed since the light when out on Ayrton Senna's spectacular life. His talent, along with Prost's retirement in 1993, left Formula One with only sadness and yearning for the times when three, four, and even five drivers battled for championships. Now, the overwhelming talent is back. The charismatic, loved, and hated drivers are out in force and we better brace ourselves for some more years of dramatic, controversy-filled finishes just like when Senna ruled the racing world.
Let's just hope Sebastian Vettel gets into a good car and steps up to the fight as well.