January 31st is known as World Magician’s Day, and there was no one more magic on the driver seat of a racecar than Ayrton Senna. In several moments when most people doubted he could come out on top, the Brazilian driver managed to pull a rabbit out of his hat, overcoming unimaginable obstacles to win big.
Take a look at six of his magic moments:
1 – 1984 Monaco GP
Starting in 13th place, and Racing in Monte Carlo for the first time, Senna was about to put on a spectacle in the rain. The Brazilian started overtaking renowned rivals, like Keke Rosberg, Niki Lauda and Michele Alboreto, peaking at the second position, when the race was suspended 31 laps in. It was only his sixth F1 race, and the Brazilian had already earned a place on the podium.
2- 1985 Portuguese GP
The story of how Ayrton Senna won his first F1 victory, at the 1985 Portuguese GP, sounds like a supernatural tale. Once again under heavy rain, Senna gave a driving master class. Starting in the pole position, the first in his career, the Lotus driver peeled away, even lapping Patrick Tambay, who was in third place, and twice-lapping Nigel Mansell, who was in fifth. Michele Alboreto, who finished in 2nd place, crossed the finish-line 1 min02s978 behind the Brazilian.
3- 1993 European GP – Donington Park
The rain was to Ayrton Senna like a pack of cards is to a magician – it ensured a good performance. At Donington Park, the same track in which Senna’s first Formula One test took place, ten years before, he was responsible for the best lap of all time. Starting from 4th place, he took the lead before the first lap was over. Not to mention that, later in the race, he did the fastest lap while driving through the pit lane. He won after lapping Alain Prost, who finished in third place, driving a Williams.
4- 1991 Brazilian GP
Ayrton Senna spent several years almost winning the Brazilian Grand Prix, but victory always eluded him. In 1991, it seemed that history was going to repeat itself, when Senna stopped switching gears in the last few laps, allowing Ricardo Patrese (Williams) to close in on him. Suffering with gearbox issues, the Brazilian had to pull off a miracle to take his McLaren across the finish line using only the sixth gear, just 2s991 before the Italian driver.
5- A win without brakes – 1982
At Snetterton, in England, during the 1982 Formula Ford Championship, Senna did something that even experienced mechanics thought was impossible. He started in the lead, but soon found out he had no brakes. Senna gave up a few positions before figuring out a new driving style. But he soon took back the lead and won.
After the race, the Brazilian told what had happened and the mechanics confirmed that his front brake discs were cold, meaning that the driver hadn’t used them.
6 – 1988 Japanese GP
At the start of the 1988 Japanese Grand Prix, Ayrton‘s engine flooded, and the driver fell to the 16th place. Luckily, no one crashed into Senna, and since the starting grid was located on a slope, he managed to push-start his car. Overtaking one rival after another, Senna clawed his way back to the lead after passing Alain Prost, and was able to celebrate his first world title in Suzuka.