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Ayrton Senna is, perhaps, the greatest racing driver ever to have walked the planet. He was certainly the best qualifier of all time in Formula One racing, obtaining twice as many poles as the great Alain Prost. He was in pole position a remarkable four times out of every ten races.

It was in Sao Paulo, Brazil, in 1960 that Ayrton Senna Da Silva was born. His parents were wealthy, especially by Brazilian standards, so he did not have to experience many of the hardships associated with growing up there (his father was a thriving businessman and landowner). As a young boy, he had a reputation for being clumsy, which was later diagnosed as a motor coordination deficiency, but his father could see the racing driver in him, and bought him his first go-kart at the age of four. Young Ayrton showed remarkable dedication to the machine, both in racing it, and its maintenance. His father rewarded him by buying him another better kart, and at the age of eight, Ayrton Senna competed in his first race. This time also saw the emergence of the great Brazilian driver Emerson Fittipaldi, and it was he along with Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart, that proved to be a great inspiration for the young Senna. When Ayrton was thirteen he was allowed to enter kart races, and promptly won his first one in style, against some prodigious local talent. 1976 saw the great Brazilian win the South American Kart Championships, and by 1980 had finished second in two consecutive World Kart Championships, virtually unheard of for a driver with such limited experience.

By the age of twenty-one he was winning races in Formula Ford, and three years later, in 1984 he made his Formula One debut in a Toleman. However, even his brilliance as a driver could not make up for the technical shortcomings of this car, and that year saw a combination of failing to qualify and low place finishes. His first two Grand Prix wins came a year later though, by which time he had moved to Lotus. In 1986 Senna moved to McLaren where he won three world championships. Such was the strength of Senna’s character, he caused the great Alain Prost to leave the team – Senna’s arrival had caused Prost to play second fiddle.

1994 saw the death of the great man, while driving for Williams, a team he had joined in that same year. On his seventh lap at Tamburello, in a heated race with Michael Schumacher, Ayrton Senna crashed into a wall at high speed. He died later that day in hospital.

In all Ayrton Senna won 41 Grand Prix races, bettered only by Prost, who raced for many more years. If the brilliant Brazilian had lived to race for as long as Prost did, he would undoubtedly have broken every Formula One record there is.