Life lessons we can learn from Ayrton Senna

The king of racing and how he loved to relax

The man, the icon, the sometimes infamous Ayrton Senna.

The man who is often regarded as being one of, if not, the greatest racing driver ever would be turning 60 years old this year. Despite losing Ayrton Senna da Silva at just 34 years old in 1994, motorsport fans like myself still admire every single thing about him – not just as a mighty racing driver, but also as a compassionate human being who wanted to make the world a far better place.

Senna drove a total of 161 races in his career, winning almost a quarter of them. With three World Championship Titles in his trophy cabinet, he may not have as many as Schumacher or Hamilton, but it was the way he controlled a race that made Senna the favourite of many. Some of his quotes pre and post race are simply extraordinary, making little sense until you saw the footage back of him doing what he did best: overtaking everyone on track.

Despite being a formidable character in the F1 paddock during the 90’s, Senna believed that he wasn’t just put on the earth to win races. He believed that he also had a purpose to help people out along the way and that’s why we can all learn something from a few of the mantras that Senna lived by. 

Always have fun

© AyrtonSenna.com

The wandering circus that is Formula One is a gruelling business. Travelling to countless countries sometimes hours after finishing a 70+ lap race in torrential rain is enough to get anyone down, meaning when you do get a chance to relax, make sure you do it in true Ayrton Senna style.

After fulfilling his commitments to the team, the press, sponsors and fans, he left the circuits as quickly as he could and flew to São Paulo. There he would swim, play racket sports and fly model aircrafts with his family, allowing his ever active mind to switch off from the madness of Formula One and separate himself from it, just for a while. Nowadays F1 is more of a mega-circus, more tracks, huge sponsorship deals and immense pressure all day, every day, making it even harder for drivers to switch off. These photographs of Senna in his downtime show his passion for life outside of Formula One, looking extremely relaxed and happy.

“WINNING IS WHAT MATTERS, THE REST IS A CONSEQUENCE.”

Be fiercely competitive

Senna competed in an era of motorsport that was home to some of the greatest ever drivers; Schumacher, Prost, Mansell, Hakkinen, you name them, Senna fought hard with them. His will to win often landed Senna in trouble, and although seemingly indestructible mentally, his competitors regard his only flaw was that he would do almost anything to win. As we know, Formula One is an incredibly dangerous sport, with deaths and life-changing injuries not uncommon during Senna’s era, which was seen as being far safer than when the likes of Graham Hill and Stirling Moss raced. This fear of dying didn’t seem to affect Senna’s mindset, he was racing to win, and everyone else out on the track were simply obstacles to leave in the dust. Sadly there isn’t as much footage of racing as there is nowadays, but the footage we have of Senna racing is just so good, his first win in Portugal ‘91, the frankly ridiculous first lap in Donington 1993 and of course, that Monaco qualifying lap in 1988.

Senna Racing

The qualifying lap and the race itself in Monaco really is something else, and even studying the stats from that session it’s difficult to work out how Senna managed to bring home his McLaren a staggering 1.427 seconds faster than team-mate Alain Prost in second place. Senna himself is quoted to have been physically ‘frightened’ by the lap he’d just completed; “I was in a different dimension.”  He went on to lead Prost by over 55 seconds, eventually pushing too hard and crashing out just before the tunnel.  

 Whether you’re working hard for that promotion or even want to get the bins out before your neighbour, I think we can all learn from Senna’s will to win at quite literally anything!

The qualifying lap and the race itself in Monaco really is something else, and even studying the stats from that session it’s difficult to work out how Senna managed to bring home his McLaren a staggering 1.427 seconds faster than team-mate Alain Prost in second place. Senna himself is quoted to have been physically ‘frightened’ by the lap he’d just completed; “I was in a different dimension.”  He went on to lead Prost by over 55 seconds, eventually pushing too hard and 

 Whether you’re working hard for that promotion or even want to get the bins out before your neighbour, I think we can all learn from Senna’s will to win at quite literally anything!

Senna on Podium

Keep your friends and family close

Some of the greatest photos of Ayrton Senna are usually him outside of the car, his helmet and balaclava would hide his beaming smile and humorous nature, which in some rare photos of him with friends and family shows Senna’s real happy place. Formula One becomes a family for anyone who’s involved with it, employees often spend more time with the team than they would their own family, travelling to countries all over the world for months at a time. The drivers are in the exact same position too, meaning friendships are often formed very quickly within the F1 world.

 

After seeing the incredible 2010 documentary movie on Senna, many took the intense rivalry between Prost and Senna literally, that they were the arch nemesis of each other and wouldn’t be seen within 500 yards together until the lights went green, but Prost has debunked this theory, and has openly spoken about how untrue it really was. Yes they were rivals, but they were two completely different personalities trying to make their mark in the fierce F1 world. 

 

After his untimely death, a staggering 3,000,000 people lined the streets of Brazil during the three days of mourning for Senna, making it one of the largest funeral services in history. Drivers, athletes, ministers, everyone felt the loss of Ayrton Senna. He lived his life to the absolute fullest, doing what he loved and the world loved him for it.

One thing is for certain, Ayrton Senna will always be remembered for being true to himself. His passion for racing and life is truly inspiring, regardless of whether you’re a motorsport fan or not, he had a unique outlook on life that hasn’t been replicated since. He may not have won the most F1 races, may have caused a bit of controversy in his time, but he sparked emotions for everyone who saw him step into the cockpit, his archived videos are still captivating to watch, and will be for centuries.

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