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‘An incredible legend of the sport’ – F1 drivers pay tribute to Ayrton Senna 30 years after his tragic death

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Ayrton Senna of Brazil, driver of the #1 Honda Marlboro McLaren McLaren MP4/5B Honda RA109E V10

May 1 is a date that carries emotional resonance for F1 fans and drivers alike, marking the day that the sport lost Ayrton Senna in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Three-time champion Senna transcended Formula 1, both with his prodigious driving talent that saw him net 41 Grand Prix victories and 65 pole positions between 1984 and 1994, but also with his passion for improving the welfare of citizens in his home country of Brazil.

READ MORE: Who was Ayrton Senna and why is he regarded as one of F1’s greatest drivers?

His legendary status means that Senna is still a touch point for Formula 1 drivers of today, with several at the 2024 Miami Grand Prix asked on Thursday – the day after the 30th anniversary of Senna’s passing – about what the Brazilian driver meant to them.

“He remains in all of our hearts and was, in the sport, such a role model,” said seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, made an honorary citizen of Brazil in 2022. “His family I think are doing a great job with the foundation [the Ayrton Senna Institute], still helping kids.”

Ayrton Senna is eternal - Viviane Senna tells her legendary brother's story

“He’s a legend of the sport,” agreed Aston Martin driver Lance Stroll. “Someone that changed the sport in many ways. He was a legend on the track and also off the track. He had a voice, he helped Brazil in so many ways, and really I think took the sport to another level in so many ways.

“Even from a drivers’ side of things, I think he really evolved the work ethic and how to be at another level as a driver. He's truly, definitely an incredible legend of the sport.”

READ MORE: Vettel to drive Senna's McLaren MP4/8 in tribute to icon at the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix weekend

Red Bull driver Sergio Perez, meanwhile, also hailed the work done by the Ayrton Senna Institute since its creation by Senna’s sister Viviane in November of 1994.

“We all follow the sport and for all of us, it’s super special to have had a figure like him,” said Perez. “He was a tremendous racing driver, very brave, but what I admire the most is how he behaved out of the car, what he did for his country, for the kids, for the younger generations.

“I think that’s the one thing that I really get inspired by Ayrton. I think it’s great that the family keeps doing a great job with their foundation, like Ayrton did when he was driving in Formula 1. I think he’s a great human being and this is why his legacy is so big in our sport.”

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 02: The Ayrton Senna memorial mural at the track is unveiled during previews

An Ayrton Senna mural was unveiled at the Miami International Autodrome on Thursday

While Senna drove for Toleman, Lotus and Williams during his career, it was with McLaren that he won all three of his titles – with the team’s current driver Oscar Piastri hailing Senna’s legacy at the team as “very, very special”.

“Obviously he spent a great deal of his career at McLaren, so I think for us it’s very, very special to have that legacy going on,” said Piastri. “For me, I was obviously not born when he was racing, but reading through the stories, watching the documentaries, seeing some of the videos of his qualifying laps, stuff like that – it’s very inspirational.

READ MORE: From his first win to that magical Monaco pole lap – 10 moments of Ayrton Senna brilliance

“I think it’s great that we’re still celebrating him, and… I don’t think it matters if it’s 30 years, 50 years, 150 years, I think the legacy will still be there. I think it’s very special for us all.”

A special Ayrton Senna mural created by the artist Kobra was unveiled in the Miami paddock on Thursday afternoon – while four-time champion Sebastian Vettel will drive an ex-Senna McLaren MP4/8 at Imola in two weeks’ time.

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