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gasly senna imola

Gasly: Senna Sempre! A special Imola tribute for my sporting hero

gasly senna imola

It was thirty years ago that Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna perished during one of the darkest weekends for motorsport, Formula 1 in particular, and for this occasion, Pierre Gasly has a special tribute for his Brazilian hero.

The Alpine driver will wear an Ayrton Senna tribute helmet, iconic yellow with green and blue stripes unmistakenly an ode to the Brazilian triple F1 World Champion. A replica of the one we all saw shudder one final time in the cockpit of that ill-fated Williams.

That car was powered by Renault, as was the V6-turbo-engined JPS Lotus 97T in which Senna claimed his legendary maiden victory in the pouring rain of Estoril. Gasly drives a current-era Renault V6 turbo-powered Alpine.

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In his preview of the 31st edition of a Grand Prix at Imola, Gasly said: “This weekend will be special for many reasons, not least as we remember the legend Ayrton Senna 30 years on from his tragic death. I will be paying tribute to one of my sporting heroes – and inspiration for getting into racing – by wearing a special Senna Helmet during the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

“The helmet will be auctioned after the race to raise money for the Ayrton Senna Foundation aimed at supporting children’s education in Brazil,” added the 28-year-old Frenchman.

Gasly: I had the privilege of driving Senna’s first Formula 1 car

gasly senna toleman

In the preview, Gasly also revealed how he revelled in the opportunity to drive the Toleman TG184: “A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of driving Senna’s first Formula 1 car, the 1984 Toleman, at Silverstone. That was a truly special day and something I will remember for the rest of my life.

“It is going to be a Grand Prix weekend filled with many emotions to remember Senna on track in Imola,” predicted Gasly, who tends to wear his heart on his sleeve. His visits to Anthoine Hubert’s crash site at Spa-Francorchamps each year, and his Francois Cevert tribute helmet a couple years ago are examples of that.

Alpine teammate Esteban Ocon is also aware of the significance of this year’s Grand Prix at Imola: “This year marks the 30th anniversary since the passing of Ayrton Senna and I know every team and driver will be paying their respects this weekend.

“Ayrton is a legend and icon of our sport and raised the bar in terms of speed and commitment. Rewatching some of his pole laps back, he was always right on the limit and hustling the car through the corners. Amazing to watch!

“We also return to Imola for the first time following the devastating floods last year, which caused so much damage and displaced so many people in the Emilia Romagna region. It will be a week of reflection and it will be great to see the fans again. Hopefully we can put on a great show for them,” ventured the 27-year-old Frenchman.

Famin: No significant upgrades over the next few races

Alpine bring first A524 upgrades for Japanese GP

Away from the nostalgia, on the reality front the French team are enduring a shocking 2024 F1 season thus far with little light at the end of the tunnel. Ocon has one point, with Gasly yet to score.

Alpine are P8 after six rounds in the 2024 F1 Constructors standings. Last year they had 35 points ahead of Round 7, and were P5 at this stage. They finished last season P6. The slide to the back of the grid has been alarming.

Despite no upgrades in store for forthcoming races, Bruno Famin tried to see the bright side ahead of the Emilia Romagna GP weekend: “The first point of the season in Miami shows that we are making progress after a very difficult start to our campaign.

“In the last two races we have demonstrated a slight rise in competitiveness and ability to race in more encouraging positions on track. Even if part of that is due to some track specifics, we have been able to unlock some performance courtesy of our upgrades.

“We will not be bringing any significant ones over the next few races, but we keep pushing hard at the factories to improve the car and extract more performance,” added Famin.

News that won’t be music to his drivers’ ears. But at least Gasly’s Senna tribute helmet will sprinkle Alpine with some luck this weekend. They sure do need it.