Pope Francis received, this Wednesday, in the Vatican, a bronze sculpture depicting driver Ayrton Senna, sculpted by visual artist Paula Senna Lalli, a niece of the driver. Besides the “Meu Ayrton” [“My Ayrton”] piece, Bianca Senna, Paula’s sister and the Ayrton Senna Institute’s Director, also gifted the Pope with one of her uncle’s helmets.

 “It was a very emotional day. It’s an honor to meet the Pope in the Vatican, on the week of Easter, to deliver such a special piece made by my sister, Paula. He thanked us and complimented the bust. Today’s sermon was about reaching out to God on difficult times, and that reminded me of Ayrton, because he always did that”, said Bianca.

“We’d also like to thank Claudio Giovanonni, who knew that my uncle’s faith was one of his core values, and who helped us to experience this unique moment”, added Bianca.

The action is another tribute to Senna in 2019, when we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the legacy left by the three-time F1 champion. “My Ayrton” started being conceived and sculpted in early 2016, when the driver’s mother, Neyde Senna, personally commissioned it to her granddaughter, visual artist and composer Paula Senna Lalli.

 The masterpiece was first displayed to the public today, during the meet between Bianca Senna and Pope Francis, and now belongs to the Vatican Museum. “It was a great honor to have my sculpture delivered to Pope Francis”, says Paula, who has just given birth to her second child – which was why she was represented by Bianca.

The artist created the sculpture during her first pregnancy, using pictures and memories as reference. Paula was also helped by relatives, who posed for her in order to bring life to aspects of Ayrton’s anatomy that images couldn’t capture.

“I was very proud to be given this mission by my grandmother, who wanted to portray the way he is remembered by the family, with lots of warmth. I took on the challenge, even though I knew it would be hard: not many pieces like this are approved by our family, and even fewer by grandma (Mrs. Neyde), who is known for having high standards”, says Paula.