Ayrton Senna – An illustrated synopsis of his Formula 1 career

May 1 marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Brazil’s triple Formula One champion Ayrton Senna in the San Marino Grand Prix at Italy’s Imola circuit. He was 34 years old. The following details the main points of his career:

British Formula 3 Championship

Born Ayrton Senna da Silva in Sao Paulo on March 21, 1960. Began in karting, then moved to Europe and won the British Formula Three championship in 1983 with nine wins in a row and 12 in total. Also won the Macau F3 Grand Prix.

Formula One World Championship

After testing with Williams, McLaren, Brabham and Toleman, Senna signed for the latter team and made his Formula One debut in Brazil in March 1984. His first podium finish was in Monaco that June when he started 13th and came second – in the rain.

Formula One World Championship

Moving to Lotus for 1985, Senna celebrated his first grand prix victory in Portugal in April. He had seven pole positions that year and also won in Belgium.

Formula One World Championship

In 1987 the Brazilian claimed the first of what would be six Monaco Grand Prix triumphs, a record that still stands in the principality. He chalked up five wins in a row there between 1989 and 1993.

Formula One World Championship

Senna joined McLaren for the 1988 season, racing alongside French double world champion Alain Prost. Over the next five years the pair would establish one of the greatest and most bitter rivalries in the history of the sport.

Canadian GP

The Brazilian took his first title in 1988, winning eight races to Prost’s seven in McLaren’s most dominant season. Prost had more points but under the scoring system of the time only the best 11 races counted.

Ayrton Senna of Brazil is given a push from circui

In 1989 the rivalry reached boiling point, with Prost taking the title after the pair collided at the penultimate round of the season in Japan. Senna had needed to win at Suzuka and did so after rejoining the race but was then controversially disqualified. He was fined, had his superlicence suspended and considered retiring from the sport.


With Prost moving to Ferrari, Senna had a new team mate in Austrian Gerhard Berger in 1990. He won his second title after another collision with Prost at Suzuka. He made clear a year later that the coming together was payback for 1989.


In 1991, Senna became Formula 1’s youngest triple champion at the age of 31. Britain’s Nigel Mansell, at Williams, was his closest rival that year.

Formula One World Championship

One of Senna’s greatest wins came in his last year at McLaren in 1993, at a wet Donington Park in Britain when he went from fifth at the first corner to lead at the end of the first lap and ultimately lapped all but second-placed Damon Hill.

Formula One World Championship

Moving to Williams for 1994, Senna had started on pole position in the first two races but failed to score a point. The San Marino Grand Prix was the third round of the season. His racing record stands at 65 poles, 41 wins and 19 fastest laps from 161 races started. (Reuters)

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