In most lists of the best drivers of all time, you’ll probably find Ayrton Senna’s name at the top. A three-time F1 world Champion, Ayrton Senna never cited specific idols in the sport, but he always showed a lot of respect and admiration for a few great drivers.
The Brazilian also made his appreciation clear through actions, like when he hugged Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1993. Another great moment took place alongside Emerson Fittipaldi, in 1982, when the two-time F1 champion handed Ayrton the trophy for his Formula Ford win, at Hockenheim. While Emerson was interviewed by Reginaldo Leme, a Globo TV reporter, Ayrton looked at Fittipaldi with admiration in his eyes.
The driver also showed a lot of respect for one of his greatest rivals in karting and other F1 idols. Take a look back at some great names in motor sports who inspired the three-time F1 champion on the track.
Well-known to all Brazilians, Emerson Fittipaldi was the first Brazilian ever to win an F1 race, and later became an inspiration to all drivers of the country who made it to the category.
A world-champion in 1972 and 1974, Emerson literally opened the doors to Senna, introducing the young driver, at the time still in the entry categories of British motor sports, to team principals and other important people in the world of F1.
Briton Terry Fullerton had his greatest moment of fame when he was named by Ayrton Senna in an interview after the 1993 Australian GP. Ayrton said that Fullerton was the rival he had the most fun racing against.
The duels between Senna and Fullerton took place in go-kart races at the end of the ‘70s, when both were fighting for the main titles in the world of karting. In fact, Fullerton was the 1973 karting world champion.
One of the most daring drivers in F1 history, Gilles Villeneuve is considered one of the greatest divers of all time among those who never won a world championship. Jacques Villeneuve’s father, Gilles was an inspiration to Senna due to his way of driving, always pushing the envelope.
Jim Clark held the record for most pole positions in Formula 1 until 1989, when Ayrton Senna matched him at the Mexican GP and surpassed him in Phoenix, in the US. A two-time F1 champion, with titles in 1963 and 1965, the British driver was one of the Brazilian’s inspirations. Clark raced in the main category of motor sports from 1960 to 1968, winning 25 times, scoring 33 poles and reaching the podium in 32 out of 72 races. In 1968, however, the Briton had a fatal crash in an F2 race at Hockenheim, in Germany,.
In the middle of the 1991 season, when Senna had already two of his three world titles, the Brazilian visited the “Jim Clark Room”, a museum located in Duns, Scotland. The place houses a historic archive honoring the legendary British driver.
Juan Manuel Fangio
Juan Manuel Fangio raced in Formula One from 1950 to 1958. Born in Balcarce, Argentina, the driver is still one of the category’s greatest champions, with five world titles (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956 and 1957). Senna and Fangio Always showed a lot of admiration towards each other.
The Argentine even gave the Brazilian some advice after the controversial decision of the 1989 title in favor of Alain Prost. And, in 1993, Fangio Made sure to congratulate Senna on the podium of the Brazilian GP, at Interlagos, when Senna won for the second time in his home-country. The scene of the hug between both drivers went down in F1 history.