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HomesportThe legendary yellow helmet disappeared 30 years ago

The legendary yellow helmet disappeared 30 years ago

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A Brazilian driver disappeared three decades ago after an accident, still unexplained, at Tamburello Curve on a dark Formula 1 weekend. The rivalry with Prost, the championships in Japan and the elections were decided… before Pele.

On Wednesday 1 May, Ayrton Senna da Silva, considered by many to be the greatest driver in Formula 1 history and voted by the magazine to be the greatest driver in the history of Formula 1, disappeared. look Like the Brazilian athlete of the twentieth century, in a football-obsessed country that had, among others, a player named Pele.

To this day, Ayrton Senna's death remains a mystery. Tamburello's corner at the San Marino Grand Prix turned out to be fateful. This race weekend was, by all accounts, a dark one for the highest discipline in motorsport.

On the eve of the Grand Prix, during qualifying practice, Austrian Roland Ratzenberger violently crashed into a wall at a speed of 314 km/h. Anyone who watched the documentary “Watch Cena” would not care to see the turmoil in Williams’ pits while watching doctors resuscitate Ratzenberger on television. Senna could no longer see and walked away, visibly upset by the scene that had left him stunned as well as an accident involving his compatriot Rubens Barrichello on the first day of practice.

Ayrton Senna was very concerned about safety, and he talked about it often, although much of the talent he showed at driving had to do with the dangers he posed on the track, whatever they were.

On that day, April 30, 1994, Formula 1 doctor Sid Watkins saw a different Ayrton Senna, without smiling, a rarity for the São Paulo native. Here the doctrine differs. There are those who guarantee that Senna was worried about the car, which did not give him any guarantee of success, and others confirm that Ratzenberger’s accident affected him greatly, and his girlfriend at the time, the model Adrienne Galisto, revealed that the couple had an ugly argument because it was not well accepted by the Brazilian’s family, which I preferred Xuxa, the pilot's ex-girlfriend. Maybe all of this made Cena different.

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Frank Williams, boss of the British team of the same name, was apprehensive when he was at Senna's last dinner and did not realize whether the Brazilian would perform on the track the next day, but Senna, when his doctor and friend Sid Watkins both challenged him to leave the “circus” And going fishing, he was adamant: “I can't, I have to run.”

Four minutes long

Senna's competitive spirit was above all else. A new phase in his career began with Williams and he abandoned the first two Grands Prix of the season. Without points and seeing rookie Michael Schumacher (Benetton) performing at a great level, Imola was the kind of situation not to be missed on the title train. Senna complained backstage that Benetton had erratic technology that benefited its cars on the track, while at the same time complaining about its single-seater and the car's instability.

The calm atmosphere around Senna minutes before the start contrasted with the frenzy that prevailed at Benetton and even at Ferrari. The Brazilian starts the race in front, always harassed by Schumacher, but on the seventh lap an era in Formula 1 ended, as he lost control of the car, hit the wall and was so unlucky that the right arm of the front suspension hit him below the eyebrow. 10 centimeters up or down and Senna would have left the car with his foot.

It took four long minutes to get Senna out of the car and into the helicopter that would take him to Bologna Hospital, but everyone was convinced that the Brazilian had died on the track, despite official information from the hospital unit indicating otherwise.

The pilot's funeral was held just three days after his death. Brazil was struck by general unrest, and the government decreed three days of national mourning and awarded the ceremony the honors of heads of state. More than a million people watched Cena's final farewell. The funeral ceremony was as poignant as the drama experienced by Brazilians.

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The greatest rivalries

In the context of the tragedy, it was nice to see fellow runners carrying the urn. Emerson Fittipaldi, Gerhard Berger, Rubens Barrichello, Michele Alboreto, Damon Hill and even Alain Prost. Yes, Alain Prost.

The Frenchman witnessed the greatest rivalry in Formula 1 history with Senna, thanks to the enthusiasm on the track, which extended abroad, where Formula 1 gained fans. No one should doubt that.

Ayrton Senna was not that poor boy who had great talent for sports. None of this. Senna's family lived freely and allowed the young man to live in England after he proved himself in karts. His talent was beyond doubt. After successive performances of value in the lower disciplines, Senna arrived in Formula 1 driving a Toleman car and scored points in his second Grand Prix. In the first season, with a very limited car, he reached three podium finishes, one of them in Portugal.

Estoril was his talisman. Estoril and the rain. Now we combine the two components and from here comes Senna's first victory, on April 21, 1985, at the wheel of a Lotus.

But Lotus was also too small for Senna, and McLaren, in 1988, managed to bring together the two best drivers of the time: Alain Prost, the Professor, and Ayrton Senna.

Everything seemed to be going well until it was realized that there were two roosters sitting on the same perch. The Frenchman thought he would remain dominant and may have underestimated Senna. In year one, the Brazilian became world champion for the first time, a title that was sealed in Japan after an epic race in which he started with problems, but going from 17th to leading with a 13-second lead over the Frenchman was something of an ace. For a walk.

Prost realized that Senna was a worthy rival and relations between the two cooled significantly in the second year. The titanic battle between the two continued in 1989 again until Japan needed a win to have ambitions of retaining the title in the final race.

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However, Prost and Senna collided, but the Brazilian returned to the track with the help of the race marshals and took first place. Immediately after the shock occurred, Prost headed to the judges' room. In the end, Senna was disqualified, the Frenchman became world champion, and the exchange of words between the Brazilian and the president of the International Automobile Federation, Jean-Marie Pallister, reached an unexpected level. The same Pallister who realized a few years later that he preferred his compatriot Proust.

The following year the same film, again at Suzuka but with a different winner. Now it was Prost who needed to win, but the shock, with the responsibility falling heavily on Senna's shoulders, gave the Brazilian his second title.

Prost left for Williams, which had a better car, but Senna won his third championship in 1991, a year in which he had a unique moment, finally winning his country's grand prix – and how he celebrated victory at Interlagos. .

Between 1991 and 1993, Senna had doubts, and realized that he could not compete, but he also could not go to Williams, as Prost stipulated that the Brazilian would not be appointed.

With Prost moving to Ferrari, Senna joined Williams. This is what you know. But there was still time for Senna and Prost to reconcile when Senna made contact with the Frenchman in Prost's final race. He immediately pulled him to the highest place on the platform.

Relations returned to normal, and Prost carried Senna's coffin and became one of Senna's most committed collaborators at the Ayrton Senna Institute, set up after his death by his sister Vivien to help educate children, one of Senna's interests during his life.

It's been 30 years since the legendary yellow helmet disappeared, and it has never been forgotten and is considered by many to be the most brilliant driver in Formula 1 history who only had one dream left to fulfill – to represent Ferrari.

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