May 1, 2008

Ayrton Senna da Silva. March 21, 1960 - May 1, 1994

Fourteen years since that day at Imola. Also fourteen years since losing a driver in Formula 1, a testament to the FIA's leadership on safety. Kubica and Kovalainnen's recent crashes would not have had the same outcome without that work.

I guess everyone has seen these classic videos, we posted the red NSX one last year on May 1st. The other (white NSX, white sox and loafers) is where you get to see that characteristic Senna right foot doing it's own analog traction-yaw control. Great to see, those NSx must have had great throttle response.

Anyway, enjoy and remember Ayrton.


  1. I'm not seeing a pattern with his foot tapping the accelerator and the slip angle of the car. I heard some speculation that maybe he's just used to driving that way because the turbo f1 cars of that era. Whatever, if it worked for him, it worked well.

  2. Great post AC. I will always have Senna on top of the charts no matter how many Schumis come after.

    It also illustrates my point about what it really takes to be on the limit on a street car. It is not smooth at all. There's a lot of pedal modulation an opposite lock.
    Senna didn't drove that way his F1 car, is just a different animal. F1 cars are far more reactive and inputs at the limit have to be small and very smooth.
    Street cars, even hard-core sportscars, are spongy soft (real rigidity: sqrt(k/M)), bigger drift angles and need more aggressive corrective inputs like Senna illustrates and how I was shown the faster way to drive an Exige S around VIR by Matt Becker.

  3. Interesting how far he sits from the wheel in video 2.
    Staggering feet, hands, and eyes in video 1.


    ps- Schumi was just as good CG.

  4. CG: I think I remember Johnny Herbert on a Schumi documentary mentioning how Senna was always tapping on the accelerator midcorner and how MS was instead more steady.

    Freep: maybe the wide angle lens on the camera exaggerates the distance, but I thought the same too at first

    Dan: I think he's just playing toss and catch with the car. trying to provoke just the right amounts of yaw...

  5. I´d like to think that all those records on Schumacher´s lap would be Senna´s if it wasn´t for that day at Imola. The one that hurt me the most was number of poles, he was truly the master at qualifing.

  6. In the F1 car he use to constantly blip the throttle mid corner to put hot exhaust gases into the exit of the diffuser which apparently gave him slightly more rear downforce grip. He always ran a little less wing than Prost (who didn't use the technique) so maybe there was some truth to it ? Whatever I remember the BBC documentary after his death where John Watson said he was on a warm down lap when Senna came past him into a fast corner and literally had the car dancing across the asphalt in a way he had never seen before. He said he knew then that his time as an F1 driver was over.

    Whatever people say about Senna V's Schumacher the bottom line is Shumacher would not have been world champion on a number of occasions if Senna would have lived. When Senna span out in Brazil he was a lap ! ahead of Hill and then at the end of the year Hill was fighting Schumacher for the title.

    Nuff said.

  7. As Andres said.

    Do you think Schumacher would put 2 seconds into Prost qualifiying around Monaco ?

    Not a f**king chance : )

  8. Unreal how it's so fashionable to bash the hell out of Schumacher just because he's the one who lived. It's absurd. This is a comparison you simply cannot make because you don't have enough information, and that's cruelly because Senna's time was cut short. These "2 seconds on Prost" suggestions are reckless speculation. Senna & Schu's timeframes just didn't match up... Schumacher wasn't yet into his prime when Senna died (incidentally at the peak of his own prime). Regardless, I think you should be (much) more respectful of what Schu went on to accomplish. Bashing Schu's performance to try to make Senna more of a legend is nothing but plain-old poor sportsmanship.



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