March 21, 2010,

Ayrton Senna would have been 50 today. I think not a race goes by without someone in the paddock talking about Senna, the triple world champion who died in a crash at Imola in 1994, and his spirit is certainly still present throughout the series.

Now, of course, his nephew Bruno Senna has arrived in Formula One. I was thinking while interviewing Bruno in Bahrain during the press scrum after his first day in the F1 car, about the huge contrast to his uncle’s career in the series. That is to say, Bruno was some 12 or so seconds off the fastest time in his first practice session in his new Hispania car in what felt hardly just for such a name. But then, as I saw the way Senna spoke about his day, and the guts and simplicity with which he has accepted to start off in such difficult circumstances, I felt complete respect for him.

And I can only imagine how his uncle would be coaching him and helping and encouraging him. And instead of the seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher now racing, perhaps history would have been completely different. Schumacher is the first to say that he would not necessarily have won that first title, at least, had Senna not died on May 1, 1994, at Imola in a Williams that would by the end of the season have regained much of its former strength.