Motorsport fans around the world will remember today (and yesterday) as two of the worst days in racing history. 18 years ago yesterday, the world lost the young Roland Ratzenberger, who was racing for the Ford-Simtek team, and a day later we lost Ayrton Senna, considered by many people the greatest driver who ever lived.
Ayrton without a doubt had a natural talent for driving. After watching hours of race footage, the excellent Senna documentary, and interviews of other drivers on their opinions of Senna, I have come to the conclusion that it is impossible to deny his presence among the all-time greats in F1.
Not only was his driving spectacular, but he was also a great character and a kind person. Even though he was incredibly aggressive on the race track, he was genuinely concerned over the safety in F1, and was a strong advocate of several safety reforms throughout his career.
My favorite Senna moment was during qualifying of Spa in 1992, when Erik Comas crashed heavily and was knocked unconscious with his foot on the throttle. The following video explains what happens.
Senna knew that if Comas kept his foot on the throttle for two long, it could result in an explosion or a fire, which would kill Comas. Instead of driving past like the other drivers at the scene, Senna took the time to get out of his car and sprint across the track to rush to the side of Comas. Senna cut the engine and prevented what could have been a tragic event for F1. It is this level of compassion and respect for other drivers that made Senna so special in my mind. His aggression while competing for the title, contrasted with actions like these to save the lives of other drivers makes Senna one of the most interesting characters in F1 history. Some argue whether he was dangerous or not, but nobody can deny that he was a fascinating piece of F1 history.