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Essential nuggets to make you seem like an expert on the racing legend

THE buzz around Netflix series currently streaming Senna may have piqued your interest. It is one the topics trending on your social media feeds and it is the name to drop at all the cool parties.

So why the big fuss over a driver who did not win as many Formula One titles as Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton? Why is Ayrton Senna so legendary in motorsports that his name is always mentioned in reverential hushed tones?

Here are a few choice nuggets to make you appear all clued up on the Brazilian daredevil.

Died young and left a pretty corpse

His tragic death at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994 at the age of just 34 probably feeds into his legend. He inexplicably lost control of his Williams car and crashed into the barrier. Actual cause of death was impact to his head from flying debris.

A playboy image

Make no mistake, Senna was a very good looking dude who set ladies’ hearts fluttering, regardless of his celebrity stature. He dated a string of glamorous models and TV personalities befitting the playboy lifestyle of a jet-setting race car driver.

$!Senna helped develop the Honda NSX, widely considered to be one of the best handling sports cars of all time. – WIKIPEDIAPIC

Film treatment

Apart from the Netflix series which stars Gabriel Leone in the titular role, the Brazilian ace was also the subject of an award-winning documentary by Asif Kapadia. The latter, also titled Senna, won a string of awards at prestigious film festivals such as Sundance and the Baftas, bringing the Brazilian ace’s story to the fore and cementing his legend with a new generation of motorsport fans.

Cool cars

Senna drove for Toleman, Lotus, McLaren and Williams Formula One teams. The all black livery of the Lotus cars were especially menacing as were the Malboro-man machismo of the McLaren rides. But did you know that Senna was instrumental in developing one of the most iconic sports cars of all time – the Honda NSX? His input allowed the Japanese firm to build a cost-no-object super car to rival the glamour marques from Italy and Germany.

Even cooler iconography

Senna was determined to stand out from other drivers and this extended to his head gear. The legend of Senna is almost always accompanied by images of his bright yellow helmet with the blue and green stripes which became his trademark. It also became the warning signal to other drivers when they spotted the yellow helmet in the rear view mirrors that they were about to be overtaken.

$!This year is the 30th anniversary of Senna’s tragic passing. – WIKIPEDIAPIC

Daredevil champion

Senna won three F1 titles. In total, he won 41 Grands Prix and set 65 pole positions, with the latter being the record until 2006. Not as many as the aforementioned Schui or Hamilton who have more titles but part of fans’ obsession with Senna was his fearless attitude to racing. Some viewed his driving style as “reckless”, not least his arch-rival Alain Prost who claimed that Senna drove that way because he believed he had divine protection.

Conspiracy theories

FW16 chassis No. 02, the car Senna crashed at Imola, was for years afterward impounded by investigating authorities in Bologna, Italy, before being returned to Williams in 2002. The team destroyed it, along with its Renault V10 engine. Needless to say, the web is abound with all sort of conspiracy theories about what went wrong with the car to have caused an experienced driver like Senna to lose control.

$!Leone plays Senna in the Netfix series. – NETFLIXPIC

Hot-blooded South American

It certainly burnishes the legend when the his public persona was that of a passionate, adrenaline-junkie determined to win at all cost. Compare and contrast against other champions like Mika Hakinen or even the great Schui, their ice cool demeanours do not particularly lend itself to legend building.

So now you know some morsels that fuel the Senna legend, you can join in the water cooler discussions or chat groups without looking like an ignorant philistine.

The six–part series Senna is streaming now on Netflix.