"Few people really do know myself," recounted a sound bite from Ayrton Senna in the first minute of the acclaimed Senna documentary directed by Asif Kapadia. "They just don't understand what it takes from a racing driver. Somebody that has left behind, thousands and thousands of miles away, family and friends to live in Europe. Being so young, always in a fighting way, nothing has come easy."
Eventually, young Ayrton Senna from Brazil would become an international hero, adored and admired by fans from Rio to Tokyo. In 1991, Ayrton Senna won his third Formula 1 world title. Through his F1 career, Senna has driven for Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, and Williams. Senna has won 41 Grands Prix, stood on 80 podiums, and clinched 65 pole positions.
To date, Ayrton Senna still holds a number of F1 records, including most consecutive pole positions (8), most consecutive wins at a Grand Prix (Monaco from 1989-1993), as well as highest percentage of front row starts in a season (100 percent in 1989).
Unfortunately, Ayrton Senna's life ended prematurely on May 1, 1994. Senna was leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix when he lost control of his Williams FW16 at the Tamburello corner at 191 mph. Senna ran off the track and slammed into a concrete retaining wall. Senna was declared dead hours later.
Despite his tragic departure, Ayrton Senna's legacy remains. To this date, Senna is still regarded as one of the greatest racing drivers in the history of Formula 1. His philosophical approach to life and racing set an example for a generation of racing drivers including world champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.
Here are five Ayrton Senna quotes we have selected that celebrate his spirit and his passion for life and racing.
"Racing, competing, is in my blood. It's part of me, it's part of my life; I've been doing it all my life. And it stands up before anything else," during an interview at 1989 Australian Grand Prix.
"By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing, we are competing to win. And the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory, it's not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th. I race to win as long as I feel it's possible. Sometimes you get it wrong? Sure, it's impossible to get it right all the time. But I race designed to win, as long as I feel I'm doing it right," during an interview at 1990 Australian Grand Prix.
"On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, 'Okay, this is the limit.' As soon as you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high," during an interview for Racing is in My Blood, 1991
"Life would be very boring without feelings, without emotions... Either winning, or breaking a record, losing, going through a corner at a speed that a few seconds before you didn't think you could, failing, feeling luck, feeling anger, enthusiasm, stress or pain—only we can experience the feeling and level of it.... Our life goes by in seconds or milliseconds," extracted from The Life of Senna, by Tom Rubython.