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MADE IN HEAVEN

 

 

Iím taking my ride with destiny

Willing to play my part

Living with painful memories

Loving with all my heart

 

Iím having to learn to pay the price

Theyíre turning me upside down

Waiting for possibilities

Donít see too many around

 

Iím playing my role in history

Looking to find my goal

Taking in all this misery

But giving it all my soul

 

Made in heaven, made in heaven

It was all meant to be

Made in heaven, made in heaven

Thatís what everybody says, wait and see

It was really meant to see

So plain to see

Everybody, everybody, everybody tells me so

Yes, it was plain to see

Yes it was meant to be

Written in the stars...

Written in the stars...

 

  Sung by: Freddie Mercury

Lyrics by: Freddie Mercury

 

 

1994.

   

In 1984 young Ayrton Senna tried to catch up with his rivals with might and main in an uncompetitive car. The situation at the beginning of 1994 was compared to 1984 by the journalists. But was it a justified comparison?

Also in 1994 young enthusiasts were trying to catch up with their rival (because this time there was only one), but they werenít driving uncompetitive cars but "very competitive" ones so you get an impression that everything turned, in some bizarre way, to "hunting a person". ďWhen will they catch Senna?Ē, it was evidently the most important question which peeped out from every line of the newspaper articles, not who and how will and in which race beat Senna and get the title, but when will Senna be beaten. And for Ayrton began something his nerves werenít able to endure - incertitude. Because instead of the "car from a different planet" he got a very capricious vehicle that he couldnít completely trust, not in a single moment. "A car from a different planet is a desire I never wish to have again" - he confessed worried by incertitude which brought slight, but increasingly noticeable anxiety. One cycle in his life was coming to its end and he had to feel it. He sensed that a change was about to happen, but he didnít know what kind of a change. That wasnít in his hands anymore.

 

Senna didnít finish the first two races. Nothing to worry about when he was in question. And it wouldnít have been if there hadnít been Imolaís turn, because he didnít lose anything of his brilliance as a racing driver, three pole positions in three qualifying sessions are the best proof for it. Even in Imola, despite of the great pain in his soul, he forced himself to separate the professional part of his life and managed to master it perfectly - he started from the first position. He tightened his heart for who knows which time and he died with his heart tightened like that.

 

Ayrton at Pacific Grand Prix, Aida 1994

 

You surely noticed that no statistics have been mentioned in this story about Ayrton. Maybe now itís a good moment to do so because thereís one piece of information which is impossible not to mention. It is the statistic data which tell us the number of won pole-positions in the history of F-1. The first starting position can be won only in one way - out on the track. The car (which has to be perfect as a result of the maximum effort of the mechanics) and the man decide about the score. It involves no sort of politics, which was so cruelly embittering Ayrtonís life to the last moment.

 

  NUMBER OF RACES NUMBER OF POLE POSITIONS
AYRTON SENNA 161 65
JIM CLARK 72

33

ALAIN PROST

199

33

NIGEL MANSELL

185

32
JUAN-MANUEL FANGIO 51 28
NIKI LAUDA 171 24
NELSON PIQUET 204 24

 

Almost all drivers, whose names are underneath Ayrtonís are many-time champions, that is, they are all legends of F-1 sport.[1]

 

But letís get back to Imola 1994, to that sad and terrible weekend, when many things emerged to the surface in all their brutality and cruelty. The drivers had been talking for some time that there was too little concern about their safety. Ayrton was just warning but he didnít take any concrete steps. They were persuading him to initiate a driverís union, but he was skeptical - he knew too well the character of the authorities and how fights with the system usually end.

 

"I am the only world champion left - and I have opened my big mouth too often. Over the years I have learnt that itís better to keep my head down...", that was how he, a bit resignedly, explained his vacillation, and in Ď93 he described the condition in F-1 like this:

 

"The downside of F-1 is the political side and the decisions on the political side are not always correct or fair, but you have to accept them if you want to be in F-1 because you have no choice. Itís a general thing in sport, not just formula 1."

 

At the same time he was warning that the new rules for the Ď94 season arenít the best solution. "It is a big mistake to abolish all the electronics so suddenly. Cars will be as fast as before but harder to drive. The 1994 season is going to be a season with a lot of accidents. I will even risk saying that if something really serious doesnít happen, we will be happy", he said this aware of the fact that cars have to some degree become weapons. "The racing car can also be a weapon", his words from 1992 (although people didnít understand them differently except as a threat to Prost). And Ayrton became aware even then that the newest and super-fast cars require careful handling and that those machines donít tolerate a single levity any more. And by abolishing electronics and active suspension, which was one of the most important elements of active safety of the car, they literally became deadly weapons. (Electronics was abolished because "safe races" became uninteresting for the spectators and something to attract them again needed to be done. The price for that decision was paid in Imola.). Ayrton knew the size of the danger that was threatening the drivers if the full potential of those cars was used in the fervency of the battle, and that was the reason he was persistently talking that the aggressiveness of the young drivers must be controlled. After 10 years in F-1 he knew what he was talking about, but people thought he only wants a clean situation for himself, for the God-Senna.

 

Three days before his death he gave an interview for the Croatian television and he talked about it so patiently as if he was talking to little children. He was aware of the fact that people most probably wonít understand him, although the 1994 season began exactly as he feared: with accidents. Only his death slowed down this trend because it literally forced officials to act.

 

Rubens Barrichello was the only one who was to be really lucky during that ill-fated weekend, because he got away almost uninjured (in terms of F-1). It was the last happy moment that weekend, and after it only the naked, bloody, extreme reality of F-1 world followed, which is concealed behind all sorts of make-up just to keep it out of sight, but which is still one of the main allurements of this sport. It is exactly this that attracts many people to it - this possibility of being a witness of something terrible, to be shocked by that scene, and, at the same time, to feel the joy that you can simply continue to live. It is unwillingly recognized, but it is true.

 

And on Saturday deceased Roland was taken from the track. He was a newcomer in F-1 and his death was an inconvenience for the organizers but otherwise a matter of statistics: he was 35. driver who died in F-1 sport. The things would stay like this in this gladiator arena, if there wasnít for someone who was truly hurt by this direct look at the other side of motor racing. Ayrton was appalled but he didnít close his eyes and pretend that was the way it was absolutely supposed to be. He knew that it wasnít, and he wanted to find out, investigate and figure out why did it still happen. That immediately disturbed the authorities who knew they couldnít run away from him this time because if he had stayed alive, he would have used every available means and all his strength to put some things in F-1 in order. No pressures and intimidation from the bosses would have stopped him, not after Rolandís death. And because they knew him they rushed to strike first. Senna received a written warning from the Stewarts of the Meeting which said there was no reason for him to go to the scene of Roland Ratzenbergerís accident and that they demanded an explanation about what he had intended by visiting the place of the accident. Can you imagine that? That he should explain what was his intention...

 

Roland Ratzenberger

 

This demand came from people who wonít show their noses outside their safe offices and to whom the biggest threat is that the sky might fall on their heads if shares lost in value, they warn a person who will have to sit in an insecure (and therefore life dangerous) car in a few hours and who was now more than ever before aware of the fact that things for him or for any other driver could end up like in Rolandís case. Ayrton realized completely that that last thing which he always tried to preserve was taken from him here. This was how he explained this "last thing":

 

"I always try, even when itís not so noticeable, to create myself a small possibility of avoidance when I drive, slight reaction on the seat, a kind of a personal security range, like a shelter, to try to avoid some harder injury."

 

 

This small possibility was taken away from him here, in and out of the car, because for him, there wasnít a way of avoiding the start that Sunday: his personality was in such position in the world in that moment that a withdrawal would have meant a negation of everything that he had been fighting for so dedicatedly for all his life. Courage, determination, strength - he had to persist for those values here too, because if he hadnít raced because he was scared for his own life, it would have been a capitulation in the eyes of the millions. Who knows, maybe Ayrton would have allowed himself to mourn in peace the death of a colleague that Sunday instead of racing, if he hadnít been so fanatically admired. But he couldnít have done it in his situation although he knew that he would most probably be at the very limit during the race. He would have to drive with all the aggressiveness and potential, like in the early days, in an unsafe car. He knew all of this, but he still set out on his last journey, he didnít desist. He wouldnít have given up even if he had known he was going to die, because his work wouldnít have been completed without his last journey because "what ever will be will be, heíll just keep on trying, till the end of time."

 

It looks terribly ironically but it is a reality that millions of admirers in their hearts accepted his death easier than they would have accepted that Ayrton had been unfaithful to Ayrton Sennaís ideals. And so we are back at the beginning: the fact that many of the chosen get killed on their own path doesnít mean anything to them. They have to stay faithful to their inner voice.

                            

A few years later another brutal death happened, a death of a person who was adored by millions because of her struggle against the authorities and for ideals and who couldnít, despite the royal status, renounce the simpleness, which was her way. Paparazzi, who had to have the latest pictures of their favorite "state princess" at any price, chased Diana, princess of Wales, into death. Thereís nothing bad in the fact that they wanted to know what she was doing, they had really loved her and desperately needed her, as well as she them. But the situation is again bizarre because everything turned to a "hunting a person". Everybody who read yellow press with interest took part in that hunt alongside with the paparazzi that day. During Dianaís funeral it almost looked as if the mass of people was unconsciously feeling something like guilt. In any case, one red rose, as a symbol, was missing on her coffin; there wasnít anyone who could have put it there. And the irony again -  it was easier for people to accept her death, then her possible marriage to a foreigner (what a horror for the royal family!) and maybe just her plain happiness.

 

 

People in Brazil who followed Ayrton to the place of his final rest were showing something else - gratitude. People who have so little in the real live knew how to show gratitude for everything that Ayrton had defended, for himself and for them, until his death. And in the fact that as the only one among his colleagues in F-1 Michael Schumacher didnít attend his funeral we can sense a certain guilt. For on the eve of the Ď94 season there have been some rumores about Benetton team (in which Michael Schumacher raced) using illegal means. Ayrton was asked if he was perhaps worried about having to fight with unfair competitors. "I really canít say much about it. Itís difficult to talk about things one cannot prove", he carefully answered then. (The day when they proved this to Benetton Ayrton didnít live to see.) That is why Michaelís absence at Ayrtonís funeral talks for itself. Transparent excuses that he was afraid for his life look ridiculous, because we know that Michael Schumacher isnít a coward. This behavior will always remain a black spot on his otherwise dazzling career because he became the direct and (if we look only at driving skills) worthy successor to Senna. It is really a shame that he didnít say goodbye to this great man with the respect he deserves...

 

And that day, when millions said farewell to Ayrton, Michael really didnít have nothing to be worried about. It was written in the newspapers that during Sennaís funeral not a single murder, theft or riot occurred in Sao Paulo. The sorrow defeated violence if only for one day. This sorrow was global and it went around the planet because the greater the person is, the greater is the pain felt for him/her.



1 1997 statistics.