Atal, there have been F1 champions and then there is Ayrton Senna, a name that symbolises everything the sport stands for – romance, the daring, passion, emotions and of course, sheer talent.

The Brazilian is widely regarded as the greatest Formula One driver of all time, his race victories, at times against all odds taking on better cars, earning him the distinction. Till 2006, he was the record holder for maximum number of pole positions in F1, numbering 65, while his exploits in wet conditions are legendary. If it rained, Senna was unbeatable. Such was his skill.

Senna’s greatest legacy, sadly, was the fallout of his tragic death in 1994 at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola, Italy. That race weekend saw two fatalities – Austrian Roland Ratzenberger during qualifying and Senna during the actual race.

Before the race, Senna had convened a meeting of all drivers and had requested their support for a united quest to urge FIA to improve safety standards in the sport. It came a bit too late for the Brazilian but his death triggered huge changes in the sport.

Many safety improvements were made including improved crash barriers, redesigned tracks, higher crash safety standards (such as larger sills along the driver cockpit) and major cuts to engine power.

After his death it was found out that he had donated millions of dollars to children’s charities, something he had kept a secret while he was alive. The foundation named after him – Instituto Ayrton Senna – was established in Brazil by his family after his death and it has invested nearly $80 million over the last 12 years to offer children and teenagers from poorer sections of the country a better future.

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