Last Saturday, the Heineken F1 Festival – Senna Tribute brought together thousands of fans at the Ibirapuera Park Obelisk, in São Paulo, touching the hearts of fans and the big stars invited to drive Ayrton Senna’s historic cars, such as Emerson Fittipaldi, Felipe Massa, Pietro Fittipaldi, Caio Collet and Esteban Gutiérrez. The event is part of a series of actions designed to celebrate, in 2019, the 25th anniversary of the three-time champion’s legacy and to inspire a new generation of drivers.
The festival’s highlight was the exhibition of Senna’s cars: the Toleman model TG184 driven by the Brazilian during his first year in F1, 1984, and the iconic Lotus 97T, with which he achieved his first win in the category, at Estoril, Portugal, on April 21, 1985.
The crowd also enjoyed the modern F1 models, brought by Mercedes AMG Petronas Motorsport and Renault F1 Team, as well as the Mercedes 190E, with which Senna won the first race in the reopened Nurburgring circuit, in 1984, which boasted one of the most star studded starting grids ever, with Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg, Carlos Reutemann, John Watson, Denny Hulme, Jody Scheckter, Jack Brabham, Stirling Moss, James Hunt, Graham Hill, Alan Jones and so on.
“It was an unforgettable moment, maybe one of the most touching in a long time: our family was very happy to see the fans’ affection and to know that Ayrton [Senna] was honored in a way that lives up to what he means to all of us”, said Bianca Senna, the Ayrton Senna Institute’s branding director. Besides the three-time world champion’s niece, Ayrton’s siblings, Viviane and Leonardo, were also at the event.
It was from their hands that Emerson Fittipaldi received the Brazilian flag he carried while taking the lap in tribute to Senna that wrapped up the event. “It was an amazing party, in which we relived so many of the joys that Ayrton gave us”, said Emerson. “It’s great to see the Brazilian people’s love for F1 and the huge affection we all have towards Senna. To drive those historic cars was undoubtedly one of the greatest tributes we could have paid to the 25th anniversary of his legacy”, said Massa.
The next homage to Ayrton Senna will take place at the Interlagos Raceway, next Sunday, two hours before the start of the Brazilian F1 GP. Bruno Senna will take to the track, in front of the crowd in São Paulo, driving the McLaren MP4/4 with which his uncle won his first F1 world title, in 1988.