F1 legend Ayrton Senna died 23 years ago. I’m going to pay tribute to Senna, my favourite F1 driver of all time.
I was still a kid in 1994, but had been following the F1 races after becoming fascinated by Senna’s duel with his arch rival Alain Prost at that time. Those days there were no live telecasts of the races, yet I religiously watched the recordings despite already knowing the results of each race from the news.
My aunt, a fellow F1 fan who was staying with me at that time woke me up the morning after the San Marino Grand Prix accident at Imola.
“Senna died,” she said.
At first I thought she was mistaken.
‘No lah, That’s Roland Ratzenberger,” I said in reference to the Belgian driver of Simtek team who died in a crash during qualifying the day before the race. It was a really bad weekend at Imola. Rubens Barrichello who was driving for Jordan at that time was also badly injured in an earlier accident.
“It’s Senna. He’s really dead,” insisted my aunt.
I jumped out of bed and rushed to the living room to watch the news. TV3’s morning bulletin was still carrying news of Senna’s death. How Senna died was quite unbelievable to me at that time. He was going through the high speed but easy Tamburello corner when everything went wrong. The Williams car just went straight into the wall and Senna died upon impact.
It couldn’t be Senna’s mistake. Something was definitely wrong with the car. At that time I used to play the Microprose F1 game on my aunt’s Pentium-powered PC. It was the best of its kind then. Tumburello corner is the first one after the start of the lap. They built a chicane there to slow it down after Senna’s accident. So, I know a bit between an easy and difficult corner.
I actually memorised every corner of each F1 circuit while playing that game. It was necessary as I have to take each corner using the right gear and be ready for it before I reached there. I also learnt about taking best racing line when driving from the game. I didn’t go to class that day. Instead, I took a walk to the nearby 7-Eleven and bought all the newspapers to read more news about Senna’s death.
I was living in Section 6 Shah Alam at that time. The 7-Eleven is the one near the market there. Lots of memories from back then. I mostly lost interest in F1 for a while after that.