40 Best Ayrton Senna Quotes

Ayrton Senna portrait

Ayrton Senna is a legend—a one of a kind driver who was relentless in pushing his limits. He was a three-time world champion racing driver, with 41 Grand Prix wins and 65 pole positions in his bag. Because of the dozens of recognitions and titles he won during his racing career, not to mention his blazing passion for racing and life itself, he is deemed to be one of the best drivers F1 has ever had.

Known to dance across the track in the wet, Ayrton Senna defined his own brand of racing and managed to permanently place himself on a level of his own, perpetually illuminating the sport we all love for generations to come.

Ayrton Senna: The Beginning of a Legend

Ayrton Senna da Silva was born on March 21, 1960, into a Brazilian family. Having received a miniature go-kart from his father when he was four years old, he became obsessed with racing. His colourful and adventurous childhood was pretty much filled with racing—from Grand Prix mornings in his early years to racing for the first time at the young age of 13. He was 21 when he went single-seater racing in Britain. The only way was up from there.

He made his Formula 1 debut with Toleman Motorsport in 1984. Senna confirmed his phenomenal talent in racing during Round 6 at Monaco—after winning 2nd next to Alain Prost’s McLaren. It was the only Grand Prix that was run in wet conditions.

In 1988 he won his first Formula 1 championship with Honda Marlboro McLaren, where Senna beat his teammate Alain Prost eight wins to seven. This started one of the most infamous feuds in Formula 1 racing. The following year, Senna lost the championship to Prost, only to come back again for the next two years and snag the title both times. This event made him one of the youngest racers to win three ‘Formula 1 Championships’.

His best performances came during his final season with McLaren, after which he moved to Rothmans Williams Renault for the 1994 season—the season that ended what could have been the most glorious career in Formula 1.

On May 1, 1994, at the San Marino Grand Prix, Senna speared off the Imola track and hit a concrete wall. The impact resulted in Ayrton Senna’s death. The whole world mourned his untimely demise.

One of the greatest Formula 1 drivers of all time, Ayrton Senna continues to hold this reputation to this day. He was an inspiration to many with his work, writings, and life.

To celebrate the life of this racing legend, we compiled our favourite quotes and thoughts by Ayrton Senna illustrating his intense love of racing and life.

Best Ayrton Senna Quotes

  1. “Whoever you are, no matter what social position you have, rich or poor, always show great strength and determination.”
  1. “The danger sensation is exciting. The challenge is to find new dangers.”
  1. “The past is just data. I only see the future.”
  1. “You commit yourself to such a level where there is no compromise. You give everything you have, everything, absolutely everything.”
  1. “You must take the compromise to win, or else nothing.”
  1. “Racing, competing, it’s in my blood. It’s part of me, it’s part of my life; I have been doing it all my life and it stands out above everything else.”
  1. “I continuously go further and further learning about my own limitations, my body limitation, psychological limitations. It’s a way of life for me.”
  1. “On a given day, a given circumstance, you think you have a limit. And you then go for this limit and you touch this limit, and you think, ‘Okay, this is the limit’. And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further.”
  1. “I cannot live on an island of prosperity when I’m surrounded by a sea of misery.”
  1. “Just because I believe in God, just because I have faith in God, it doesn’t mean that I’m immune. It doesn’t mean that I’m immortal.”
  1. “You either commit yourself as a professional racing driver that’s designed to win races or you come second or you come third or fifth and am not design to come third, fourth or fifth, I race to win.”
  1. “With regard to performance, commitment, effort, dedication, there is no middle ground. Or you do something very well or not at all.”
  1. “And suddenly I realized that I was no longer driving the car consciously. I was driving it by a kind of instinct, only I was in a different dimension.”
  1. “I am not designed to come second or third. I am designed to win.”
  1. “The weak goes nowhere.”
  1. “I believe if you are doing something like competing, like motor racing, you either do well or forget it.”
  1. “Wealthy men can’t live in an island that is encircled by poverty. We all breathe the same air. We must give a chance to everyone, at least a basic chance.”
  1. “I have no idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.”
  1. “Each driver has its limit. My limit is a little bit further than others.”
  1. “You will never know the feeling of a driver when winning a race. The helmet hides feelings that cannot be understood.”
  1. “It shows how much you can touch people, and as much as you can try to give those people somehow it is nothing compared to what they live in their own mind, in their dreams, for you.”
  1. “Money is a strange business. People who haven’t got it aim it strongly. People who have are full of troubles.”
  1. “We are all looking for emotions, it’s only a question of finding the way to experience them.”
  1. “These things bring you to reality as to how fragile you are; at the same moment, you are doing something that nobody else is able to do. The same moment that you are seen as the best, the fastest and somebody that cannot be touched, you are enormously fragile.”
  1. “I believe that we start to see our true personalities when we go through the most difficult moments.”
  1. “Everything that I’ve gotten out of life was obtained through dedication and a tremendous desire to achieve my goals…a great desire for victory, meaning victory in life, not as a driver.”
  1. “With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.”
  1. “Being second is to be the first of the ones who lose.”
  1. You do something very well or not at all.”
  1. “The same moment that you are seen as the best, the fastest and somebody that cannot be touched, you are enormously fragile.”
  1. “If a person has no dreams, they no longer have any reason to live.”
  1. “Many times, it’s through a mistake that you learn. And the main thing is to make sure you learn through your mistakes and get better.”
  1.  “I believe in the ability of focusing strongly in something, then you are able to extract even more out of it.”
  1. “My biggest error? Something that is to happen yet.”
  1. “You must take the compromise to win, or else nothing. That means: you race or you do not.”
  1. “Of course, there are moments that you wonder how long you should be doing it because there are other aspects which are not nice, of this lifestyle. But I just love winning.”
  1. “It was like I was in a tunnel. Not only the tunnel under the hotel but the whole circuit was a tunnel. I was just going and going, more and more and more and more. I was way over the limit but still able to find even more.”
  1. “The main thing is to be yourself.”
  1. “When you are fitted in a racing car and you race to win, second or third place is not enough.”
  1. “It shows how much you can touch people, and as much as you can try to give those people somehow it is nothing compared to what they live in their own mind, in their dreams, for you.”

Ayrton Senna was known to have profound thoughts and undeniable wisdom and it showed whenever he spoke, especially about racing.

When did Ayrton Senna say, “if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver”?

Ayrton Senna said this famous quote during the interview at the 1990 Australian Grand Prix when he won his second championship with 78 points.

The complete quote was “Being a racing driver means you are racing with other people and if you no longer go for a gap that exists you are no longer a racing driver because we are competing.”

During the 1990 Formula 1 season, Prost was also second with 71 points, Piquet third with 43, Berger fourth with 43, Mansell fifth with 37, Boutsen sixth with 34, Patrese seventh with 23 and Nannini eighth with 21.

Why is Ayrton Senna considered the best?

Various motorsport polls have repeatedly ranked Senna as the most influential Formula One driver of all time. From 1989 until 2006, he held the record for the most pole positions with his qualifying speed over one lap. His wet weather performances also earned him respect and admiration—such as the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix, the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix, and the 1993 European Grand Prix. Monaco Grand Prix has seen him win six times, including five in a row from 1989 to 1993, and he is also the fifth most successful driver of all time.

Who did Ayrton Senna say was the best driver?

“I have no idols. I admire work, dedication and competence.”

True to this quote, the three-time F1 world champion did not name specific idols in his entire life. However, he did show respect and admiration for a few great drivers. His appreciation was also evident through his actions, such as when he hugged Juan Manuel Fangio after winning the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1993.

There were 5 notable instances when the Brazilian racing driver showed deep admiration for his fellow drivers.

Terry Fullerton

During an interview after the 1993 Australian Grand Prix, Ayrton Senna had declared Terry Fullerton as the competitor he had the most fun racing against.

Senna and Fullerton clashed on the go-kart race tracks at the end of the 1970s.

Jim Clark

Jim Clark’s brilliant career highlights his record for the most pole positions in Formula 1 until Senna broke it in 1989. The Brazilian matched Clark at the Mexican Grand Prix and surpassed him in Phoenix. 

Clark was one of Senna’s inspirations. He raced in the main category of motorsports for 8 years bagging 25 wins, scoring 33 poles and ending up on the podium in 32 out of 72 races. His illustrious career ended when he had a fatal crash in a Formula 2 race in 1968.

Senna visited a museum in Duns, Scotland, during the middle of the 1991 season, when he had already won two of his three world titles. This museum houses a historical archive dedicated to the late British driver.

Emerson Fittipaldi

The first Brazilian driver to win an F1 race, Emerson Fittipaldi later became an inspiration to all Brazilians who made it to the category.

Emerson, who won the world championship in 1972 and 1974, gave Senna his first taste of F1, introducing him to team principals and other important people in the world of racing.

Juan Manuel Fangio

Fangio was born in Balcarce, Argentina, and won five world titles (1951, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957). From 1950 to 1958, Juan Manuel Fangio raced in Formula 1. There was always a great deal of admiration between Senna and Fangio.

After the controversial decision to award the 1989 title to Alain Prost, the Argentine offered some advice to Senna. Fangio congratulated Senna for the second time in his home country in 1993 when Senna won the Brazilian GP at Interlagos. A hug between the two drivers made F1 history.

Gilles Villeneuve

Despite never winning a world championship, Gilles Villeneuve was one of the most daring drivers in F1 history. Senna was inspired by Gilles Villeneuve, Jacques Villeneuve’s father, for his way of driving, always pushing the envelope.

Is Ayrton Senna the greatest driver?

Even by today’s standards, Ayrton Senna is undeniably one of the best. But is he the greatest?

Statistically speaking, he’s not. He does place among the top at least.

In terms of statistics, Lewis Hamilton has won more races and has accumulated more points than any other Formula 1 driver throughout his career. The Briton has won in 30 different countries and a race in every season he has raced. He is currently tied for the world championships with Michael Schumacher (though he does have the chance to edge him out in 2022). With a contract that runs through 2023, Hamilton looks to be able to improve even further on many of Formula 1’s records.

But statistics are unfair. Those numbers do not tell you how the driver won, only that they did.

Ayrton Senna was a powerhouse of raw talent, commitment and unrelenting charisma. He won through brute force and strategy. He always pushed past his limits and never chickened out of gunning the engine to the checkered flag which we think was very instrumental in bagging him his 3 title wins.

Had he survived to race past the 1994 tragedy, he could have achieved more.

Was Senna better than Schumacher?

As long as Formula 1 exists and continues to hold races, debates like this will never die down. Nevertheless, one of the aspects that make sports so entertaining is the ability to compare players and competitors endlessly. Comparing drivers from different eras is even more thrilling!

However, it is impossible to tell which driver was better in this regard. It is not as easy as comparing Senna’s 3 championships to Schumacher’s 7 (because in this area, the latter has already won). To determine whether one of them is superior to the other, we can try to look at their achievements statistically.

Stats Ayrton Senna Michael Schumacher
Starts 161 306
Wins 41 (25.47%) 91 (29.74%)
Poles 65 (40.37%) 68 (22.22%)
Fastest Laps 20 (12.42%) 77 (25.16%)
Podiums 80 (49.69%) 155 (50.65%)
Points 610 (3.79 avg) 1566 (5.12 avg)

Here’s some food for thought…

Ayrton Senna raced in an era where there were drivers equally as legendary as he was—there was Mansell, Piquet, Lauda and even Prost who was his teammate—and every time he proved his prowess on the race tracks with 41 wins and 65 poles. Senna was pretty much on his own when on the race tracks.

On the other hand, Michael Schumacher, during his five-title stint at Ferrari, always had a wingman as a teammate who was responsible for facilitating his championship triumphs. This meant Schumacher got the better car and even had teammate Rubens Barrichello pulled over to allow him to pass for the win on one very controversial occasion. Formula One changed its rules in response to that situation.

This is to say that Schumacher could have shown his full potential had he raced in Senna’s era. Besides, Schumacher already proved his phenomenal talent.

Both drivers performed exceptionally well in the rain. The rain performances of Senna, however, had a greater impact on his legend than those of Schumacher. Remember when Senna drove his unimpressive Toleman from 13th to 2nd place in torrential rain at the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix? It was legendary.

Another instance where Senna proved his exceptional driving skills happened in 1993 at Donington. He took his car from 5th to 1st place in the opening lap of the race. He had a grip that no other racing driver found on the track, not even Schumacher. He lapped the entire field that race!

Statistically, Senna was a better qualifier than Schumacher.

Ayrton Senna managed 65 pole positions in only 161 starts, compared to Michael Schumacher’s 68 poles in 306 starts. In his career, Senna ended only 3 pole positions behind Schumacher’s pole count, but 88 races behind Schumacher’s starts.

Schumacher was on pole for 22.2 per cent of his career, whereas Senna was on pole for 40.37 per cent of his career. 

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