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How Can I Go On?


When all the salt is taken from the sea

I stand dethroned

Iím naked and I bleed

But when your finger points so savagely

Is anybody there to believe in me

To hear my plea

And take care of me


How can I go on

From day to day

Who can make me strong

In every way

Where can I be safe

Where can I belong

In this great big world of sadness

How can I forget

Those beautiful dreams that we shared

Theyíre lost and theyíre nowhere to be found

How can I go on


Sometimes I tremble in the dark

I cannot see

When people frighten me

I try to hide myself

So far from the crowd

Is anybody there to comfort me

Lord... take care of me


Sung by: Montserrat Caballť, Freddie  Mercury 

Lyrics by: Freddie Mercury, Mike Moran



1988.  "MONACO 1988"


This was the year Ayrton got "the real racing car". McLaren Honda, in his hands, could result with only one thing - the world championís title. But it wasnít all that simple as it may appear. One would say, thinking superficially, that to driver of Ayrton Sennaís size, who was gifted with so a great talent (although it wasnít just given to him; he brought his indisputable talent to perfection through hard work and comprehending his responsibilities), it wasnít difficult to get hold of the world title. And how far from the truth that is because Ayrton didnít win a single race without a fight or outstanding efforts. He fulfilled every single obligation honestly and with devotion. And apart from all those details familiar only to the people in this dangerous sport, there was also a special "human factor" for Ayrton, there were "those who couldnít understand". They were an additional aggravating circumstance because they very frequently blocked him, withheld his due not being able to see him as a outstanding human being he was whom, in their lack of understanding, they called a "man-machine".  


Portugal 1988


And Ayrton had a turning point in his career that year: " Monaco Ď88" happened to him. First there was the qualifying session. Particularity of his style of driving through the session set him apart. Later, Ayrton himself tried to describe it:


"I felt as though I was driving in a tunnel. The whole circuit became a tunnel... I had reached such a high level of concentration that it was as if the car and I become one. Together we were the maximum. I was giving the car everything and vice versa... Suddenly it was as though I woke up and noticed that I had somehow been on a different level of consciousness. I was really shocked, and I went straight back to the pits - and I didnít drive any more that day. I realized that I had been in a kind of unending spiral. Faster and faster, closer and closer to perfection... But also more and more vulnerable, with less safety margin..."


This was the point where Ayrton came closest to what he was craving for, to perfection, but at the same time he saw the price for it. In shock he realized if he gives himself up to the call of speed to the full it will cost him his life, and if he doesnít do it, there arenít many reasons for driving because the mere world title, after these experiences, has a little meaning. The most important moment for Ayrton Senna in his whole career was inexorably getting closer. He said the following about that moment:


"The mistake I made changed me psychologically and mentally."


This mistake happened on Sunday: he was leading the race with 49 seconds gap, 12 laps before the end and suddenly, he found himself in the fence. One second before he was holding everything in his hands and also had additional unused potentials in reserve and the next second everything was gone incomprehensibly fast. All the glory and misery of peopleís aspirations flashed in front of his eyes in that moment. And the only thing that the others saw was Sennaís capital loss of concentration. Everything else remained hidden, Ayrton immediately went away from the track and he withdrew himself into absolute solitude. Many questions needed to be answered by him: consciously and irrevocably. And one was crucial: why am I still sitting in the racing car and risking my life over and over again  when the boundary lines are so thin, human being so fragile and the reward so relative? He was searching for the real answer to that question for days because now he knew that the real answer has to exist. He realized that values must be disposed differently otherwise everything wouldnít make any real sense. And he found the real sense not with his intellect but with his big heart which had room for the entire world. He realized that he wasnít racing only because he wished so, only because he loved speed and victories, but that F-1 is means, a way for him to act most efficiently and broadly in this world because many people had needed him so they could have experienced dignity and feeling of success through him - several moments of happiness. His words spoken to dr. Sid Watkins (when he was asked a day before his death why doesnít he finally quit), also prove that in Monaco Ď88 Ayrton realized the essence of his activity in F-1 and stayed loyal to it to the last moment: "Sid, there are some things over which we have no control. I cannot quit, I have to go on", he said.


Monte Carlo 1988


This was the reason he didnít quit, not even in Imola Ď94 (although he surely knew then that he had dangerously drawn to the boundary-line), because he didnít belong only to himself any more. He became the possession of millions because for people abstractions are never enough. People need concrete examples, they want to see their ambitions and aspirations incorporated, they need a point of support. Ayrton became that point of support and there was no way back for him, not for a man like Ayrton.


Once he spoke about what had happened to him in Monte Carlo : "It was a growing need for answer to me, about me, about our lives. All the things we are aware of and all those we are not aware of in our lives were given to us by God, regardless of whether we understand or not why we live in a certain way."


Ayrton has in any case been loyal to his mission till Monaco '88 unconsciously and from that time on consciously. That was how the second part of his career began, although it remained exactly the same at first sight because Ayrton didnít change his habits. He only consciously and with full responsibility took upon himself the weight of his mission. And from that time on he always tried to stay on this side of the boundary-line because he realized the value of the most precious gift that was given to a man - life.


"Life is something that God gives us but in most instances it is up to us to use our commonsense to show God that we understand that life and health are great gift from him. Itís our responsibility to preserve such an important gift", he said. That was the reason he never again allowed himself to go so far like on qualifying in Monaco 1988. " I didnít allow myself any more to go so far that I reached this state again. I can control it before it gets to this point. Itís too risky", he explained. Here we can see that he was neither fanatic, nor gambler, nor madly craving for fame, and they were still persistently accusing him of not caring for his or anybody elseís life...


This very important season in the life of Ayrton Senna also had its dramatic and a very special ending. The fight for the title ended in Suzuka. He described what happened to him during that race:


"That was an incredible day. First pole, then a lousy start. I already lost it all, but still I managed to find strength to fight, I had to drive with the highest aggressiveness without making a single mistake. That was one of those days when everything comes out of you, all your natural abilities, you donít find a day like that always. I said to myself go, go, go and then I crossed the finishing line.

I was thanking God for this victory, for this great gift, when I saw before me a huge picture of Jesus. It was incredible! I was actually still driving with full concentration, with everything that I had - and yet there was suddenly this vision." 




It was indeed an incredible day. His engine stalled on the start. "It was partly the clutch, partly my fault", he explained. And a stalled engine at the start means the race is over but not this time, not for Senna in Suzuka. The slope of the track saved him.


"I dropped the clutch and got going and the engine stalled again but I managed to pick it up a second time and staggered away. I was really lucky", Senna described this late start. After lap 1 he was on the eighth place and his only real competitor (and teammate) Prost was on the first. Everything changed until lap 19, Senna was now behind Prost. And after next eight laps he took the lead. Ayrton drove through the last lap with a cool mind like a surgeon, careful not to make a single mistake. As he was coming through the last bend, on such a high level of concentration, something special was waiting for him and it wasnít just the world championís title. He got the real prize when he was coming through the last bend; it was the confirmation that his work was noticed and adored. During the winnerís lap he lifted his visor and rain blended with his tears: 


Suzuka 1988


"Yes, I cried as I drove through the finish", he confessed without hesitation. These were a different sort of tears from those that awaited him at this same place next year.

This is how Ayrton Senna won his first title.





Psychological experiences such as those canít stay unnoticed. They canít be hidden behind any sort of mask and a person who experiences them inevitably changes, begins to understand things in their real light. Unfortunately not many people are prepared to talk about those experiences also in public. They are afraid because they know people will laugh at them. Ayrton wasnít afraid, he talked. It isnít hard at all to imagine what some people said about his experiences: he has a screw loose. He asserts he saw God! - they unavoidably came to such a conclusion.



It was a well-known thing that Ayrton prayed before each race Ė ďhe prays to be the first at any costĒ - that was all that people could conclude out of it. And he didnít pray to be the first at any price. He prayed to do the job he had to do to the best of his abilities, the most fairly, properly, to achieve the best possible result that circumstances were allowing and bring the work of many hands to its end with his own strength, in the best possible way. That was the reason he could walk away from the track when his car broke down, disappointed but peaceful in his heart. His thoughts were already on the next race, on the improvement that could be done to the car, but he couldnít get over the situation when he was prevented in racing by stupidity, or even worse, injustice, hypocrisy of those who were setting double rules. Injustice would make him sick, but he wouldnít surrender, he always tried to fight.                           

"Justice, honesty - thatís what itís all about, those are important values in my life", he was talking in front of the crowd of cynical journalists at a press-conference in Adelaide 1989 trying to explain the depth of the injustice caused by disqualification in Suzuka for him while the tears were in his eyes. Because Ayrton wasnít able to suppress tears when he came across a situation in life which called for tears. His eyes would always disclose what he felt and think in a certain moment. He could never hide pain and sadness as well as joy, after all, no matter how he tried. And also in Imola Ď94 he wasnít able to hide the tears for Roland. Others were able to do it but he wasnít. People found that strange because tears, sincere and unabashed tears are rarely seen; only very few people carry in their souls so great values that they are prepared to defend them publicly and with tears. Ayrton had "a gift of crying" (this is how Dostoevsky called this outside aspect of a gentle heart). But in this world "a gift of crying" is no sort of gift at all, it is more a kind of a curse.


    And why wasnít Ayrton able to suppress his tears in Adelaide in 1989? Because the iniquitous judges were acting. They didnít choose the means against him any more, maybe because when you donít understand someone you must consider him crazy, dangerous, your enemy... "Ayrton has a small problem", Prost said. "He thinks he canít kill himself because he believes in God and I think thatís very dangerous for the other drivers."


"I didnít cause the accident in Suzuka", Senna was explaining, "It was never my responsibility and you should see that in the video, not by my own words."  


Suzuka 1989


We saw. We understood. It wasnít his fault. And he didnít give up after the crash with Prost: he came back to the track and drove to the end of the race. He didnít just think he was the winner, he was the winner. He became one in front of everybody but still, he was disqualified, deprived of his victory, chance of winning the title, they prevented him from going to the podium... He tried everything in human power to fight out for the justice. He opened his heart, bared his soul and asked for support like a child. He said the truth about the real state of things to everyoneís face. A dangerous way since he was alone against the system and thatís a fight that always ends the same - the system wins. He was forced to drink a cup of ill blood to the bottom - it was a lesson he never forgot but it didnít change him. "I never forget that", he said a few years later when he was asked about it. And he didnít forget, but he forgave.


Suzuka 1989


It is a great irony that Ayrton had to live the hardest moments of his career in Japan of all places because he was something special for the Japanese. He was adored in the whole world, Brazilians loved him unreservedly, Europeans respected him, but Japanese were the ones who understood him most. And right here, in Japan , he spent long moments of incertitude absolutely alone, waiting for the officialsí decision. Those moments and the cruelly unfair decision which was made hurt Ayrtonís soul more than anyone could expect because he wasnít prepared for them. He simply couldnít believe something like that is possible. That explains why he needed so much time to recover. But there wasnít any way for him to avoid this bitter injustice. He unavoidably had to live it through, similar to the feeling of absolute solitude which he once experienced on a lonely beach directly confronted with his great loneliness. These experiences were inevitable and in the end they have enabled him to find the answer to the hardest question of all which everyone whoís trying to live according to Godís laws sooner or later will have to face. And it is an answer to those horrific words of Jesus spoken on the cross: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" These words and the way in that somebody accepts them are a point where one forever loses or strengthens ones faith. We can realize what kind of an answer Ayrton found if we look in the most personal part of his soul. We owe our gratitude to Adriane Galisteu for giving us that view by publishing the song-prayer Ayrton always kept by his side after he found that answer in her book ďMy Life With AyrtonĒ. Here is that song:






































Ayrton Senna



ďHope put off makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life


Proverbs, 13, 12



After that arduous end of the season even more arduous arguing about issuing his Super License followed. All that conditioned that he started the 1990 season without joy:

"Itís only out of responsibility to the team that Iím driving at all... So many people and their jobs depend on my decision, I have to think about that, too", he said this at the beginning of the season forced to do it by the structure of his soul which didnít allow him to walk away from something just like that Ė that irrational factor again. And what about people around him? They had trampled down the most sacred thing that was the essence of life for him, and then they wanted to show how generous they are, they offered hands of reconcilement, and since Senna was "a believer" that seemed to be understandable by itself. But it still wasnít the right time. There was no hate in Sennaís heart, only bitterness, and only time would soften it. As time went by Senna forgave everyone in his heart, but now it was still too early. And the end of the season showed exactly how much too early.


Suzuka again. And iniquitous judges as well as unfair decisions. When Senna already won the pole and wanted a fair fight for the title, out on the track, and then let the better man win, him or Prost, the authorities deprived him again. They decided he has to start from the right, worse side of the grid although he and Gerhard Berger agreed with them on Wednesday before qualifying (and Prost agreed with it, too) that whoever gets the pole will start from the better, left side. But, the boss Balestre didnít like it because Ayrton won the pole position, and he said "NO". When he couldn't stop him, he at least tried to make his way towards victory more difficult. And Ayrton? How must have he felt then when he knew very well from the previous yearís bitter experience that cry for justice wonít yield up any fruit regardless of so obvious deliberate injustice.

It is written in the Bible that Jesus was once full of anger and sadness because of the hardness in hearts of people which were around him. And he said to them: "O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?" I'm sure something-similar was in Ayrtonís heart at that moment. Wrath and sadness are the feelings which filled his heart. Wrath because of the injustice and sadness because of not being able to prevent it. But when you know youíre right, you have to go on, and he himself explained to us best how he was going to do that: 


Suzuka 1990


"I was so frustrated I promised myself that if after the start I lost first place, I would go for it in the first corner, regardless of the result. I would go for it and Prost wouldnít turn into the first corner ahead of me."


Pay attention to these words: I will go forwards at any cost, IMMEDIATELY, if Prost gets the advantage because of the unfair decision! If they had started fairly, their duel would have lasted for much longer, but we will never know its outcome, and in this way the race ended after 10 seconds for both drivers. Prost needed the victory in order to hold the chance of winning the title, Senna didnít and due to Prostís giving up Senna immediately became the champion.  


Suzuka 1990


This winning of his second title brought him the most criticism. Still, he didnít expect that they would attack him so vehemently. Exhausted, he withdrew behind his wall with words: "I donít care". This time he didnít at any cost try to explain what is the cause and what the consequence because whatís too much is too much.

Despite this, the race in Suzuka 1990 entered the annals as "Sennaís revenge" - Senna deliberately put Prost out of action in the first bend as a retaliation for the Ď89 - this was (and stayed) a general conclusion. Since this sentence explains that incident so rationally and logically and seems to be so final in its judgement, who would still dare to offer some other explanation! Shall we try anyway?


Letís go little back to the past, to Imola 1989. The two team mates and rivals, Prost and Senna, had made a pact there that they wouldnít take unnecessary risks in the early stages of the race so that whoever would be first in the first bend could stay in the lead till the end of the race. A great agreement, as it seemed, but it was seen later that it wasnít so great, because it was very imprecise, without clearly defined places where they were not allowed to overtake one another. Ayrton pointed out later that the arrangement was only referring to the braking zone while entering the bend but this can be interpreted in various ways because every driver defines the braking zone for himself. Prost understood the situation in his way and confident in his advantage he was driving in Tosa bend like "a professor entering a classroom"- far more relaxed than he would have been if there hadnít been for that unfortunate pact. He was also braking much earlier than necessary and that was a mistake because right behind him was the Brazilian who already regretted for having made any sort of agreement at all. He was at pains to drive behind Prost because it was a limitation, "driving along with everybody else", everything that his nature didnít bear. It is possible to overtake him before the braking zone - detected Sennaís racing sensors which couldnít stand waiting and were faster than Senna himself. Prostís style of driving enabled that and it also called for it in one hand because Senna was forced, in full swing of velocity, either to overtake Prost or to brake like mad risking to very dangerously block everybody behind him. Later he explained:


Imola 1989


"I had to do it for self-protection, because he started braking so early that others would have crashed into us if I hadnít passed by."


After all, this wasnít the first time something like this happened. Senna often bitterly complained about the drivers who would suddenly block everyone behind them by braking too early. He saw those situations as extremely dangerous.

So, thatís how it happened that Senna, despite the pact, took the lead to Prostís great consternation, a real shock. It hurt Prost deeply. He felt jeopardized. Ayrton realized it, he saw that he threw his balance into disorder. He respected sincere feelings of another human being and he was also aware that their pact wasnít a precise one and that Alain had good reasons to think he was cheated: that was why he relaxed from his principles and apologized himself.


Without knowing all the details of the agreement between Prost and Senna we canít judge here how much Ayrton was to blame. Based on the available information we could conclude Ayrton made a mistake in the fervency of the combat. He just simply couldnít resist not to seize the opportunity. But this would be a correct conclusion if they had had clearly defined points where they werenít allowed to attack but it looks this wasnít the case here. And another thing is that this pact wasnít valid only in Imola 1988. It was Prostís idea and the two drivers were practicing it over a longer period of time in different ways. If they were on good terms it was valid and if not they ignored it (so it means that it wasnít sacred as we could conclude from Prostís tumultuous reaction.)  


Brazil 1990


Supposing Ayrton did make a mistake on the track, Prost most certainly made one outside the track because no matter what has happened this conflict had to be settled in the way that the agreement itself was made - internally. But Prostís wish to punish his disobedient student was too big. Something that would have passed unnoticed on some other occasion was used as a weapon here. Prostís entire frustration rose to the surface. It was hard for him to bear the fact that Senna wasnít what he was hoping he would be - a second fiddle. He made such a fuss that even Ron Dennis had to intervene because he was afraid for his dream team to fall apart. They pressurized Senna from every direction, trying to make him apologize to Prost so he calms down. Nobody could have talked Senna into something like that because he didnít think he had betrayed the agreement and didnít consider himself guilty if he himself hadnít sensed the disharmony in this situation and become aware of the fact that the competition couldnít continue without reestablishing the equilibrium. That was the reason he apologized to Prost and, as it immediately turned out, it was a mistake because his apology wasnít accepted in the same way it was given - in a wish to normalize things, but as a public confession of his guilt (and we know the rule: once guilty, always guilty).

Only few days later it was Ayrtonís turn to be consternated. "Senna apologized to me in tears", "I donít want to have anything more to do with him, heís not sincere" - those were the headlines from the French newspapers screaming at his face. The unfortunate Prostís tendency to politicize and prattle hurt the modest and discreet Brazilian to the core this time. He withdrew without words. His imaginary wall was bigger than ever before. If the Frenchman had been more tactful, they would had never become such big enemies but in this way all the respect the Brazilian had towards him was gone. Ayrton said the following about it on one occasion: "I have long since lost my respect for Prost".

And from that time on Prost, who despised being pushed and forced to change his style of driving, always reacted in the same way whenever he saw the nose of Sennaís car getting closer in the bends. He would immediately try to "close the door", regardless of the consequences. Thatís how we got Suzuka   Ď89 and Ď90, the most famous consequences of rivalry between Prost and Senna.



Senna got to know Prost and his reactions very well. And that was on his mind when he said this enigmatic sentence on Saturday before the race in Suzuka 1990:

"Perhaps I will be the world champion tomorrow before the race is finished." And really, on Sunday, Prost hastily "closed door" on Senna, because still he wasnít hoping that he Senna would attack IMMEDIATELY, already in the first bend, so that he didnít have time to think that he would eliminate himself from the race by doing that. He focused too much on trying to escape the Brazilian already at the very beginning of the race, because he saw his biggest chance in it Ė he had a better car.

Now carefully read these few sentences which Ayrton said, some of them the same day after the race (because the journalists were pressurizing him even late in the afternoon to confess how he deliberately put Prost out of the action), and some not until one year later when he allowed himself to say what he felt. It is meticulously noted that he was using a lot of expletives because Ayrton would sometimes (just like all of us) use bad language when the situation in life called for it.

This is how Ayrton was trying to explain the incident in Suzuka 1990:


"Prost knows very well that I always drive to the maximum. It is his fault that he blocked my way. First he made an impression that he was leaving me enough space, and then he blocked me. He had to realize that I have a bigger acceleration. He made a mistake when he ignored me. He took the risk and it didnít pay itself out. Prost simply made an error in computing. Am I responsible for him?"


"If you get (...) every single time when youíre trying to do your job cleanly and properly by the system, by other people taking advantage of it, what should you do? Stand behind and say "thank you, yes, thank you". No, you should fight for what you think is right. And I really felt that I was fighting for something that was correct because I was (...) in the winter and I was (...) when I got pole. I tell you, if pole had been on the good side last year, nothing would have happened. I would have got a better start. It was a result of a bad decision. And we all know why. And the result was the first corner. I did contribute to it, yes, but it was not my responsibility." **


And in one book it is noted that he answered the question about possible prevention of the crash through braking by another question: "And what is dishonest in wishing to want to win?"


Prost watching Senna


What else can be said about the famous Suzuka? They could have been the greatest sporting duels in the most positive sense because their protagonists were exceptional sportsmen if they hadnít been destroyed by politics because Prost wasnít a lonesome fighter like Senna, he had the system behind him.   





The 1991. season brought Senna his third title. So, the season was very successful but when we analyse it carefully we can again see how much extreme efforts Ayrton needed to put in it. But he had had one mitigating circumstance since 1990. Gerhard Berger became his teammate that year of whom we can say that heís Sennaís Hephaestion*** (Prost ran away from the crazy Brazilian to Ferrari). Ayrton liked the cheerful Tyrolean and his good character and so he could finally say that he found a friend among colleagues. It is certain that Gerhardís support on and off the track made Ayrtonís way towards winning the title easier. The Brazilian thanked him in his own manner. Victory in Suzuka at the end of the season wasnít given to Gerhard, he earned it. Senna suddenly slowed down there near the finishing-line and by doing so, let the victory over to Berger. "It was a small gesture to Gerhard who helped me a lot in the past and, I say small, because he was as fast as I was in the race", Ayrton was later explaining this unusual gesture, because it provoked different surmises.


Senna & Berger, Suzuka 1991


And that year Ayrton realized that McLaren wasnít functioning as perfectly as it used to, it wasnít possible for him to be satisfied any more. There were a lot of mistakes and points were being unnecessarily lost - the great era was over. That year Alain Prost wasnít one of the Sennaís biggest competitors and also Prostís fellow countryman, head of FIA, was relieved of his duty, so that Senna fought this year more with the problems on his own car and with the superior Williams (driven by the hasty Mansell) and less with the authorities.


Letís look back at the race in Interlagos to understand to the full how well was Ayrton able to cope with unpredictable problems which occurred during races and how much willpower he was able to invest in it. Because the 1991 season is Interlagos: the first victory at the home track and most probably the best personal victory of Ayrton Senna (except the race in Donington 1993, which is as much important as this one, but out of different reasons). Here, in Interlagos, Ayrton surmounted extremely huge difficulties on the car that followed in succession with literally almost only superhuman will power. It was a complete win of spirit over matter.

"I felt it was my duty to win in Brazil ", Ayrton said later. Very simple words, but we can foresee all the drama of this race from them. He had to drive the car with one hand and manage the gears with the other and then the gears also wouldnít engage. That put him in despair which was replaced by panic. And in that state of panic he managed to draw hope from his own innerself that there was still something that he could do. And he did it. He got into a gear - the sixth - the only one that was still working. But, this wasnít the end. Now he had to drive a few more endlessly long laps:


"It is incredibly difficult to drive so long in sixth gear. When you have to break from 300km/h to 70 without being able to change down, the engine is still pushing you forwards on full power. I was very often on the brink of sliding off!", he was talking about it.


Beside all that, there was also a constant danger for engine to stall: Senna had to change his driving style completely in this new situation, he had to suppress terrible pain in his muscles, which was coming in waves, and, moreover, he had to be careful, because the track was getting wet. At the first impression it looks like rain wasnít his ally this time, but yet, if look a bit more carefully we realize it was, because Patrese, who was driving the second Williams car (Mansell was out), would have probably at least tried to attack Senna if, along with everything else, rain hadnít come down. And when there were Senna and rain in front of you, the second place was the first.

And Ayrton pushed himself forwards: "Iíve always said to myself itís OK, you can do it, itíll work..." And he prayed his short prayer: My God, my God, please donít leave me... "I believe God gave me this victory" , he unbosomed himself to us.




And in the moment when he crossed the finishing line in front of all Brazilian people as first, he also crossed the limit of a mortal. A driver who has drawn out from himself and from the car everything a human being possibly could (and a little bit more), was sitting feebly in a stalled car a few meters from the finishing line. In that moment he found himself in vacuum and the only reality was the ripping pain which was finally allowed to break out. They helped him to come out of the car because there was still something he felt obligated to do at any cost. He had to go on winnerís podium there. From that moment on he stayed forever on that podium for his countless admirers. He moved among gods. Death that took him only sealed this status - he became immortal. Here we could witness how gods originate among people. Greek and Roman immortal heroes rose in a similar way and already mentioned Alexander the Great transformed (while he was still living) from the king of Macedonia and leader of all Greek people to divinity in front of whose sculpture sacrifices were being offered and all because he knew how to turn lost battles into victories.


"In many ways we are a dream for people, not a reality. That counts in your mind. It shows how much you can touch people and as much as you can try to give those people something, it is nothing compared to what they live in their own mind, in their dreams, for you. And that is something really special, something really, really special to me", these are Ayrtonís words on that subject.


Here in Interlagos thereís one scene which touches a person very painfully in the heart. I know it will look extremely contradictory when I try to describe it but Iím simply not able not to mention it. Namely, when absolutely exhausted Senna is going out of the official car one can see his face and eyes for a moment. He was happy then, he said so himself. He was really happy, happy because of the incredible way that he had won, happy because of the fulfilled dream of countless fans, happy because of himself, but then again that wasnít a face of a truly happy person. It was a face of an extremely lonely person, face of a person which shows a need to immediately share this almost unbearable moment with somebody who would understand it. The eyes are searching for a person so special and close that he could lay his head on her shoulder, in order to find a rest for at least a second. The fact that he laid his head on his fatherís shoulder doesnít mitigate, but emphasises this loneliness, because his family wasnít away from Ayrton, it was a part of him. And his soul mate who would correspond with ideals worn in his heart and who would understand him in his special spiritual world Ayrton had been searching for all his life unsuccessfully. In that seeking he came across many people whom loved him but love doesnít necessarily include understanding. That was the reason why, at that moment in Interlagos, among endless mass of admirers, there where people loved him so much they would give their lives for him without a thought, Ayrton da Silva was absolutely alone, alone with his thoughts. There wasnít anyone who would follow him in those thoughts.


His most intimate wishes never came true. "One day I will have a wife and children and I hope I will know how to help them and to pass on to them the experiences I have collected", he confided to us when he was asked about his dream.

He had one more wish (which he knew would always remain only a wish), a kind of a vision of his own future. "One day I will allow myself to pay off all the money, note for note and then Iíll live only in harmony with nature."

And something professional? He had that kind of wish, too: he wanted to finish his racing career driving for Ferrari. "Even if the Ferrariís car is a slow as a Volkswagen Beetle I still want to be driving it on my last start, my last lap, my last race. Ferrari is the myth of Formula 1. The tradition, the soul, the passion."   


Those were the most intimate wishes of Ayrton Senna, painfully modest for a person who could have wanted and achieved everything which this world was offering to him. But it seems that he wasnít of this world.


Mexico 1991


Something else also strikes oneís eye in 1991. Ayrton was injured more times that year. The accident in Mexico looks frightfully cautioning when we are thinking about it retrospectively like this. A sight of the ripped wheel with a stick reminds us of one damnedly similar wheel a few years later. So, this means everything that happened later was constantly possible, only at that moment the time for it hadnít come yet, Ayrton hadnít completed his mission yet to be able to leave.





That year it was definitively clear that Williams was the best car. And Nigel Mansell was driving it. It must be admitted that he, most of all people, was trying to beat Senna out on the track. He succeed in it that year. Even a driver like Senna couldnít overpower technological advantage of the Williams. "It was hopeless from the beginning" - confessed Senna, but some races are still his and they are remembered. Like the duel with Mansell in Monaco. In general terms races in Monaco belong only to him in a certain way. We can see on videotapes some parts of these races which were taken with a camera inside a car. When we follow these scenes we begin to understand the assertion that Ayrton drove faster than himself, which means faster than a car, because he was driving on two levels: he was simultaneously inside the car physically and in front of it in his mind. In this way he would eventually return to himself. Thatís why it was possible that special things happen to him. He tried to describe what he experienced during the warm-up in Monaco 1990:

"I could suddenly see myself from outside sitting in the car. Around the car and around my body there was a white line - like a wave. I saw strength and protection in it."    



What kind of extreme concentration is necessary to experience something similar, only very few people know and for a racing driver it is a precious quality. For us, spectators, it is only a man and a machine functioning in harmony and only some extraordinary situations which disturb this functioning make us excited. And every extraordinary situation is a shock to nerves for a driver, going in for an exam anew. Thatís why all the racing drivers are people with special nerve structure and an average person in normal life never experiences that kind of pressure. Ayrton tried to describe how he experienced races a couple of times:


"Every thin vein of my body is more sensitive, my head works like in no other situation. I can smell the grass on the edge of the track, gravel and asphalt too. I also take seriously the smell of brakes when I step hard onto them at high speed. The sensors of my body receive every vibration of the car. All information of this sort rush simultaneously into the head but Iím still able to distinguish, understand and individually interpret them. It is an unbelievable, fascinating feeling - you become a part of the whole."


Senna & Mansell - Monte Carlo 1992


Indeed, his nerve cells were functioning in a special way and in Monaco probably most impressively. He loved to win there. In 1992 he equalized G. Hillís record and already the following year he made a new, his own - six victories altogether, five in a row. Why did Ayrton love to win in Monaco? The track there is extremely demanding and that motivated him, he would test himself there. He described it like this:


"As a circuit it is the greatest challenge in the whole championship because you are driving relatively fast and there isnít the slightest room for a single mistake. Because there simply isnít any space. Monaco is demanding physically because one bend follows the other, and psychologically because you have to be so attentive, so precise the whole time. The walls form your limit..."


But otherwise Ayrton didnít like to stay in the notorious principality what people couldnít comprehend at all although the reason is very simple. Monaco, with its jet set, games-of-chance residence Monte Carlo, is an artificial creation made for rich people, for idle members of the jet set, it is a recourse of vanity. From that place on the planet every sign of poverty, penury, illness and oldness has been artificially removed. There, in that illusory state people close their eyes in front of the horrible reality of life. And if somebody didnít close his eyes in front of the misery of reality it was Ayrton Senna. His only real home was in Brazil and Brazil is a synonym for penury, and because of that people could in no way understand how it could be that he, a multimillionaire, has a home there, and he could without worries live in a fabulous place such as Monte Carlo! They were consternated hearing him passionately explaining his life attitude when he was asked about it. And last year of his life, before Imola, he said:


"I would like to go to Monte Carlo as late as possible. Too much concrete, too noisy, too much chaos, too much tittle-tattle."



Belgium 1992


The 1994 race in Monaco was held without him. Position no.1 on the starting grid remained empty. The fashionable and to Ayrtonís heart foreign city lost its idol without changing its concrete style of life even a little bit. The change happened somewhere else: in the hearts of many people all around the world, where Ayrton moved in forever.





Although it wasnít known then, 1993 season was the last full season for Ayrton Senna and it was extremely demanding. Ayrton was fervently searching for a way to go on that season. He was driving for McLaren without a permanent contract, only from race to race; the whole year was in fact a fight on more fronts for him. He was still persistently trying to get hold of the Williams car which was the best car at that moment and fervently wanted to achieve his aim (he even had to fight out his own death!). A piece of information that he offered Frank Williams (who has a reputation of a curmudgeon) that he was willing to drive the Ď93 season for free, reveals how ardently he wanted to drive a competitive car again. The irony is that the only thing he achieved by doing this was that Frank Williams didnít even think to seriously take the world champion Nigel Mansell into consideration any more and pay to him the amount he wanted, so that embittered Mansell left F-1 and went to America.


And Ayrton was, besides all the maximum engagement in F-1, also intensely working on his other projects because it was long since he was living only for F-1 as one might think when looking at his constant, 100% dedication to this sport. F-1 was his passion, his means to express himself best, but he was also involved in many other projects in order not to become despondent, because sometimes the situation in F-1 was of such a kind that it would force him to say words like these: "Forget it, Iím getting to the point where I donít care..."


He fought in his own manner against moments of despondency such as these:


"I have experienced that a few times during my career and I have also learnt from it, learnt to cope with it. One way of dealing with it is to do different things, to have different projects and to see how they develop. For then they become a motivation, a source of satisfaction and positive feelings. And you can transform that into energy in order to continue. You need plans for the future, things that you see gradually growing, that you can be glad about. If you donít have that and just wait for something to fall from heaven then itís much more difficult. And you need different things. Then if one thing isnít going so well you can turn to another one, and suddenly perhaps the first one will start working better again, too. You have to create new things and invest in the future. Thatís the only way to live for the future."


He saw to the future of his projects. At the beginning of 1994 he said:


"1994 will be the year in which the "Ayrton Senna Group" will really become independent, from which all my business projects will develop their own existence independent of my career as a racing driver". Unfortunately, it turned out to be literally so.



Ayrton Senna after winning in Interlagos 1993 


The 1993 season also seems to be a short account of the whole Ayrtonís career. As if all important elements from previous seasons were joined together in this one season, as if he had to live them all through again because his time was coming to its end. He had an inferior car and he couldnít win the championship despite his great effort. But winning one more title wasnít of any deeper importance at all any more because Ayrtonís life mission wasnít winning the most titles in the history of modern F-1 era.


In 1993 the time came for Ayrton to win in a different way. "Do you now have the feeling that some of the things which happened in 1993 were perhaps predetermined?", he was asked at the end of the year, and he replied: "Yes, I really believe they were."                             

Really, some events that year were destined to show things in their real light and to through it soften the bitterness which weighed down on his heart painfully for a very long time. First he unexpectedly won in Interlagos the second time and celebrated this victory "over the moon", as he expressed himself. In general terms he didnít care much for parties. He very much loved and enjoyed showing what he knew and how he could do it but as soon as he would cross the finish line he would say "over" in his spirit and direct his thoughts to the next race which awaited him. Congratulations, celebrations and everything else that goes with it werenít of any special importance to him. He was happy, of course, but the celebrations were more of a dedication to all people who took part in achieving this victory and to all fans - a present for them so they have something to be happy about. The same was with all trophies, victories and titles. They still werenít a priority to him although this assertion looks preposterous at first sight because what has been important for Ayrton in that case? What was the true reward that belonged to him only? He answered that question to us, too.


Two legends of F-1 - Ayrton and Juan Manuel Fangio, Interlagos 1993


"In the seconds before the start, when the engine is started, I let myself go, somehow let myself fall. All conscious thinking ceases, everything flows on quite naturally as though of its own accord. There is a rhythm, something like a perfect melody. Not always, but there is always the eternal search for it. When I find it then I drive in another dimension. Controlled, but totally free, steered only by my very own, I would almost say innate instincts. I am there in present, but I am also ahead of myself and of time. I sense intuitively much more than I calculate. Unfortunately, those are only rare moments, but wonderful ones."


That was that something he was constantly looking for. It was the true reward for his absolute giving, reward which was showing him anew that his work is noticed and adored. Thatís why it is possible to place two assertions of Ayrton, which sometimes seem to be contrary, next to one another, without making a true contradiction. Sometimes heíd say: Statistics don't interest me. My goal isnít breaking Fangioís record, it will always remain matchless; and sometimes the following: Only victories satisfy me. To be second means to be first of the losers. These statements would be absolutely contradictory without understanding of Ayrtonís soul and the emotional states which he was experiencing. Apparent contradictions such as these are typical for people who are forced to live according to commonly accepted rules and who, at the same time, have to follow their own fatefully.

But in 93, Ayrton exceptionally celebrated victory in Interlagos in the usual way - tempestuously, until the early morning hours, and on that occasion he also met a "dream-girl" who brought him an illusion that last year that he had found "the real thing". The future showed us everything was really only an illusion although he himself surmised some things. It wasnít possible for him not to see that this 19 years old woman was mentally still a little girl but her image was cut deep into his heart and her simple-mindedness was a rest for him. In a way characteristic of him he took responsibility for her hoping that she will succeed in learning the real values in life and that they will be able to plan their future together. Adriane was also showing credulity beside her simple-mindedness and he had to fear such a innocence. Only a few days before his death, he said:


"Even when you are beside a woman that you love you might think she could make you unhappy in the future. The relationship between a man and a woman is the oldest thing which exists in humanity, and there are still no formulae to guarantee love, peace and success of a relationship. For this reason relationship must be valued day by day. It is not only the dream that most of us have but the reality that we must evaluate."


Although he influenced Adriane in an educative sense, he wasnít jealous as journalist had written, and neither did he forbid her to follow her profession as a fashion model. He only knew how things in that branch work and he tried to protect her from humiliation. She talked about it herself in her book and affirmed best that she didnít understand Ayrton at all. She was just nodding her head without understanding the essence. The best proof for that is the situation when he let her to decide for herself and make a story for the magazine "Caras". With a credulous confidence Adriane gave herself into the hands of people who took advantage of what was offered in a very perfidious way. The pictures which were taken are right on the edge of what we call "good taste". They didnít cross it, but they allude more than too much on certain things (Adriane who was in love with herself wasnít able to understand the very fine line which divides good taste from bad). You can imagine how surprised she was with Ayrtonís reaction after seeing the final result. She didnít understand a single word of what he tried to explain to her. The only thing she understood was that he was angry with her and she looked so beautiful on those wonderful photographs... Adriane didnít comprehend the complete impression and allusions.  


Adriane Galisteu at Ayrton's funeral 


And what was left for Ayrton to do in that situation because he realized he couldnít leave her to act alone any more until she learns some codes which were understandable for those in his immediate circle? He set out to mitigate the bad impression - he sent photographs to ďCarasĒ which he chose by himself and those truly wonderful art photographs present him and Adriane as a couple. Here he had to use his own personality to try to worthily present Adriane as his beloved. And he asked her to obtain the slides which were taken of her own accord - he wanted to get those ambiguous pictures under control. This proves that he sincerely fell in love with a little girl (this is how he called her), to that extent that he wanted her to become his wife. He asked for those slides because he was thinking of the future, of that future which he didnít live to see and which showed to us that what seemed to be naivety and credulity is most probably a personality trait, because Adriane permitted everything what was denoted with allusions on those pictures from "Caras" to come to its vulgar end after Ayrtonís death. She cruelly humiliated herself and through herself also Ayrton, she is the only person who succeed to hurt him even after his death. A glance at her pictures from the Playboy really hurt. When we see them we canít help asking ourselves how it is possible that at least an echo of Ayrton didnít remain in the soul of that girl, how could she turn out to be so empty? With no intention to be cynical, a conclusion suggests itself to me that Adrianeís role in Ayrtonís life was only to be a "warriorís repose" in his last months, because how would it otherwise be possible that absolutely nothing of their year wasnít strong enough to be remembered? Under what sort of influence did Adriane fall after Ayrtonís death to make the final result so crushing? Or did she carry all of this inside her heart all the time which then makes it even more crushing. But, was it supposed to end like that? If the little girl had been officially secured with an annuity from Ayrtonís money, maybe that would have prevented this big humiliation or at least there wouldnít have been an excuse for it. Ayrton would have surely wanted it no matter what had happened, Adriane was the person he loved and this fact had to be respected because nobody knows how things would have developed if he had stayed alive.


Adriane was often with Ayrton during the races that year but she wasnít present at the most important one in Donington where one of his greatest victories took place. That race was a satisfaction in every way. We know that we canít direct our lives, but when we talk about Donington, we get an impression that the director there was Ayrton himself. Because the circumstances folded in such a way that he was able to show his ability to everyone and even to himself. "That race told me everything to myself. It was what I wanted to prove to myself", he said. No one could have known then that this was his swanís song.


Donington 1993


His main opponent was Prost again, who had in the best car occupying Williams just for himself: he ensured himself with a clause in the contract that Senna mustnít be his teammate that year. So he bound Ayrton to, at the time already uncompetitive McLaren. And the race in Donington started, with such relation of power, on one cold rainy Easter Sunday. The rain had to be a part of the show at any cost. And it wasnít just raining to be clear: put on the rain tires and letís go. Here it was raining, then it stopped - the track got dry, then it would start raining hard, then it wouldnít rain - the parts of the track would get dry again. Now imagine Senna in this scenario. The way all his sensors worked, the way he put to work all his abilities - it was an art. Formula 1 reporter from Slovenia called him "the poet of velocity". This name confirmed itself here completely. "Ingenious, fantastic, it is pure Senna, the car doesnít count in", an example of a commentary of this race, this time from James Hunt. The whole race, from the beginning to the end, was absolutely unique.

If there was a time when Prost was completely beaten it was here, although Ayrton tried to mitigate this aspect. He didnít want to profane this race by reducing everything only to retaliation. But here it was incontestably Prostís turn to swallow a bitter pill, but in Sennaís way. Nevertheless he stayed "professor" till the end - during the winnerís interview he complained about the steering wheel and the problems when changing gear, about blocking the rear wheals and so on and on. That made Ayrtonís lucid spirit to suddenly refer to him: 


"Perhaps we should change cars."


After this race, the ice which was tightening Sennaís heart began to melt. Thatís why it was possible to sincerely shake hands with Prost at the end of the season. The time for it had come.


"With all the differences, the problems we had, we are both sportsmen, both world champions, we both love racing. I think what has happened should be left like this. It showed my feelings as well as his".

This is how Ayrton was talking about his feelings and, shortly before his death in Imola 1994, he said goodbye to his long-time rival and real enemy at moments, in the best possible way: "A special hello to my dear friend Alain. We all miss you Alain...", he sent word to him from his Williams car. These words reveal the essence of his relation towards also a great racing driver, Alain Prost: Alain was his complementary match in racing - where Ayrton was strong, Alain was weak and vice versa. And because of that, Prostís image next to Ayrtonís dead body was despite everything an image of a friend.  


Senna & Prost - England 1993


Another big enmity was removed from Ayrtonís heart already in 1991 in December at the presentation of 1991 World Championship, during the FISA annual prize-giving in Paris , where he gave his helmet to ex-chairman of FISA, Balestre (the same person who prevented him from climbing the winnerís podium in Suzuka 1989):


"We have had our differences in the past, Jean Marie. I donít want to get back to it. I know you want to have something from me as a personal thing. As far as Iím concerned, today I try to close any misunderstanding between us. What happened in the past is past", Ayrton said at the occasion.


He just simply couldnít hate and he never revenged himself, although many people thought the opposite. Sometimes it would happen to him that he would burst out in anger in situations where there wasnít any deliberate injustice and sometimes he reacted a little bit too quickly before all the fragments combined to the whole and showed the real picture. But that happened only when he thought people were trying to thwart him in something he was 100 percent sure he was doing it right. He was aware of these drawbacks and was trying to correct them.


"I must learn to have patience", he was thinking and once, in an interview, he answered the question "What would you like to change in yourself?" like this: "Perhaps to be able to accept easier how human beings are. Itís difficult to accept certain things, but I wish in the future I could be more flexible towards people, accepting the way they are; some with their excellent qualities, some with their big flops. But the way they are."


Pay attention to these words: I donít want people to accept me the way I am, but I want to be more flexible and accept them as they are. Because, people were often tactless and they troubled him disturbing his concentration or keep importuning at the wrong time and place like, for example, the well-intentioned sympathizer who advised him uninvitedly, during supper in a restaurant, to stop racing because he might get killed. And Ayrton was in that restaurant and having dinner with Adriane only to try to forget that and things like that, that is, he only wanted to live normally for a moment.


He himself was very tactful and always careful not to disturb other people unnecessarily. He was sparing people and things just not himself. That was also the reason you had to give your best if you were at his side in a certain moment. All the drivers who were so fortunate or unfortunate to drive with him felt that best. He was very tolerant but only to the limit that was defined by his balanced soul structure. If you crossed it he would burst into anger regardless of the consequences (like in Irvineís case). The furious reaction provoked by the Irishmanís impudence brought Senna unpleasantness and criticism but when we look at it today everything what happened is not so important, although itís characteristic. Ayrtonís slap in Irvineís face wasnít assigned to him only as to a person who was bold, but it was also a slap to the system and its indolence and hypocrisy.


"Nothing justifies hitting him and Iím not justifying myself. Iím just saying what took place in the race was absurd in many different ways. And nobody did anything about it, during or after the race. I went to see him and he was like a wall. He made me lose my temper. I couldnít help it because respect is very important between drivers. The problem was he wouldnít even think about it, let alone say he was wrong", this is how Ayrton tried to explain it.


And the system showed its real face once again. Senna turned out to be the only guilty party because there was no word about what was really important (and that was Irvineís deliberate, unfair behavior on the track). And this is very characteristic: the consequence, not the cause is punished and almost always when Senna is in question. The lack of understanding is enormous not only among authorities but also among journalists and especially English journalists whom Ayrton was at war with for all his career. He didnít want to discuss that incident with them and he explained why: "Because what I really say never comes across." And when British journalists tried to provoke him again, he didnít fail to answer: "In any case you have no idea...", he told his mind to their faces. Here it is also possible to see how large was the lack of understanding when Ayrton was in question, but despite this Eddie could keep the Great Brazilian in his memory without bitterness if he gave himself the trouble and comprehend the lesson about fair-play he got from him. But unfortunately during all these years after Sennaís death it is seen anew in every season that the Irishman doesnít exert himself all that much, and what is more, it looks as if he intentionally fosters the image he got thanks to the Brazilianís slap.  



Ayrton's last victory for McLaren - Adelaide 1993

And the Great Brazilian ended the 1993 season again with a victory, which secured the McLaren team predominance in the history of F-1. With 104 victories they became "number one" ahead of Ferrari. Could you think of a nicer gift to the team to whom you are saying goodbye? Because Senna was definitely going to the Williams. Prost couldnít block him any more so he preferred to retire, with four titles in his pocket, and Ayrton was looking forward to a new season like a child. It finally seemed to him he would be able to drive the way he wanted in his spirit, that is, "faster than himself", and to do that, he needed "a car from a different planet". The Williams car promised to be that exactly but the beginning of the 1994 season immediately showed that this was only his second illusion. "I feel I have arrived here two years late. The car drives funny", he complained in his most intimate circle dissatisfied with the car which he got, and during the testing in Jerez , on the eve of the second Grand Prix in Aida, he wasnít able to restrain himself any more, not even in public. This sentence escaped him:


"Typical, Iíve hardly arrived at Williams and they promptly screw things up with the car..."

* The author of the song is Margaret F. Powers. She published it and described its history in the book ďFootprintsĒ (HarperCollins, Toronto, 1993). This true story has inspired many and one of them was also Ayrton Senna.

** Here I was forced to quote censored Ayrtonís words, because all to me available sources presented them in this way.

*** One of the generals of Alexander The Great and his best friend.