Death of Ayrton Senna 25 years ago : Alain Prost tells of their rivalry legendary

The 1st of may 1994, at the Grand Prix of San Marino at Imola in Italy, Ayrton Senna soars to pole position at the wheel of his Williams-Renault. The day before, he had cried after the fatal accident of Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, 33 years old, during the qualifications. During the sixth lap, the brazilian driver lost to turn control of his car and became wedged against a wall. Senna was transported by helicopter to a hospital near Bologna. Two hours after the end of the race, which was won by Michael Schumacher well incapable of celebrating anything, the death of the Brazilian 34-year-old is confirmed.

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The rivalry of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna on the circuits around the world has durably marked the history of F1. In an interview with the AFP, Alain Prost remembers that this rivalry is one of the reasons why their sport has reached a wider audience : “To summarize, it was moved from a world of specialists from the F1 to a world that is completely open. It was there that we saw the mainstream media because there was this battle with human pilots to the characters or to the different charisms, different cultures, upbringings are different. This rivalry was amazing, but it was also related to the framework and, unfortunately, the death of Ayrton has been that it has remained frozen, considers Alain Prost. In reality, I did run two years with him in the same team, only four or five years in all. I have done lots of things, I’ve won plenty of races and championships out of him, but our history is completely linked (…) Not only my career but also my life are related to him. I live with this for the last thirty years.

There was this battle with human pilots to the characters or to the different charisms, different cultures, upbringings different

Their relationship was not limited to this sports rivalry that divided F1 fans in two camps. At the retirement of Alain Prost, the two men are discovered in a new light : “After my arrest in 1993, it was already different. Fortunately, there were those six months of friendship from the moment I withdrew from F1, until the accident. It changed the relationship completely.” If some fans diehards still revere Senna while hating Prost, a lot, “the vast majority rallied around a common history (…) and that is beautiful“, analyzes the French.

Ayrton Senna received the funeral national. Three days of mourning have been observed and a half million Brazilians have attended his last lap of the track in Sao Paulo, his native city. His death has led to instances of F1 to impose new security rules on both circuits, in the place of the events, that of the builders.

For the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna, a survey, quoted by AFP, showed that “47% of the inhabitants of Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, the considered him as the greatest athlete in the history of the country“. The footballer Pelé, recently came to Paris, had collected 23% of the vote.

His legacy is not only sport : in his lifetime, Ayrton Senna and funded many educational projects and charitable in his country. Vivianne Senna Lalli, and his sister, has created a foundation in his name in order to continue this work on a larger scale, as early as November 1994.

Always to the AFP, Alain Prost tells that each of its visits to Brazil, he receives a particularly warm welcome : “I am perhaps better known than in France and there is an incredible fervor because there is something that has become of the respect as I am part of the Foundation Senna and I have always been very close to the family.” In 2019, Ayrton Senna would have been 59 years old.