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Ayrton Senna: 1960-1994: Race Car Driver

Carved History With Mclaren

Senna returned the favor after returning to Suzuka one year later. Senna deliberately ran Prost's Ferrari off the track going into the first corner of the race, taking the 1990 Championship. Senna retained the title in 1991, despite continuing battles with Prost and Britain's Nigel Mansell. Senna finished fourth in the 1992 Championship and second in 1993, as McLaren lost its competitive edge. All told, Senna compiled a remarkable record racing for McLaren, including three World Championships and 35 Grands Prix. Prost announced his retirement from F1 in 1994, when the Williams team announced its intention to sign Senna. Senna threatened to do the same, so incensed was he by Prost's decision to retire on his account.

Senna reached a career high in 1994 by signing a $20 million per-year contract with the formidable Williams team. Despite taking pole position in the first three races of the season, Senna failed to finish in the points. He took pole position again at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. He was leading the race in the seventh lap when his car entered a curve and swerved into a concrete wall, killing him. Williams technical director Patrick Head and former team designer Adrian Newey were later charged with manslaughter in Senna's death. The prosecution charged that a poorly modified steering column broke as Senna entered the turn, causing him to lose control of the car. Head and Newey were acquitted of the charges in 1997, but an Italian court threw out the acquittals. In January of 2003 the Chicago Tribune reported that a new trial was expected.



Henry, Alan, Grand Prix Champions, Motorbooks International, 1996.


Chicago Tribune, January 29, 2003, p. 8.


"Ayrton Senna," Formula One Art & Genius, http://www.f1-grandprix.com/senna.html (January 15, 2003).

"Ayrton Senna," Formula One Database, www.f1db.com (January 15, 2003).

"Ayrton Senna," GrandPrix.com, www.grandprix.com (January 15, 2003).

"Ayrton Senna," Grand Prix Hall of Fame, www.ddavid.com (January 15, 2003).

—Brenna Sanchez

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyAyrton Senna: 1960-1994: Race Car Driver Biography - Outstanding Kart Career, Charged Into Formula One, Proved His Mettle In The Rain, Carved History With Mclaren