I was only 6 years old on the 1st of May 1994. Not really old enough to understand much, but old enough to observe, and old enough to be impressed upon.
I don't remember much about the weekend, but I remember quite clearly what little of the race I got to watch. My Dad and I were watching the race at home on TV, then Senna crashed, and it was bad. I remember seeing him motionless in the cockpit of his Williams for a few brief seconds. The next thing I remember is being taken out somewhere by my dad. Suddenly we had to go and do something else, something out of the house.
It was later that day when we came back to the house that we heard the announcement of his death on the radio of our family's Ford Escort. I remember explicitly telling my family that there must have been some mistake. "He can't be dead!" I exclaimed. Like many others, I'd seen accidents far worse and in my young, uninformed head that meant he would be just fine.
My family tell me that I always used be glued to our TV, watching anything to do with motor racing, but F1 in particular. I used to play with the toy cars I owned until I fell asleep, face down on the carpet, cars still in hand. I would have seen a lot of Senna. It's clear that he was present in my life from a very early age, yet I barely remember him. Only bits and pieces, nothing truly substantial. I simply wasn't old enough at the time to truly appreciate him.
As I've grown older, I've thought more and more about the almost mythical figure of Ayrton Senna. What is Ayrton Senna now? What is he now in 2014? This is a question I've wrestled with a lot recently, and honestly I don't know the answer. However, I think it could be said that in death, Senna has become something more than what he might have been had he lived. He is the last of the lost F1 drivers, and the loss motor racing has never really recovered from.
By what measure do we really define death? Certainly in the case of Senna, it's far more than just the loss of his physical form. He is spoken about on an almost daily basis by lovers of motor sport worldwide. As readers, viewers, and fans, we often find out something new or meaningful about him, in the words he spoke or the actions he took. Surely even in 2014, if he still influences and impresses upon us, just as he did when I was a young lad, then he is not truly "dead". The power of this man's character and spirit seems to be utterly timeless, and his actions and words are well recorded; forever to be studied or admired.
The death of Senna (and Roland Ratzenberger, never to be overlooked) brought about a string of safety changes which to this day make the sport of F1 much, much safer for drivers. Safety is paramount now, and it speaks volumes that we haven't lost another driver in Formula 1 since that terrible weekend. We can watch the sport we love comfortably, knowing we are incredibly unlikely to see a weekend like that again.
It's always nice to imagine a Formula 1 world with a living, greying Senna taking part. Maybe he'd become a five, or even six time world champion. Maybe he'd have had classic gripping races with Michael Schumacher, or maybe he'd have retired, got married and entered politics. I do think it's important to consider that in the Senna we have, exists have a timeless, iconic, and revered personality, forever to be remembered and forever at the forefront of the motor racing world. His influence, even now; twenty years on, simply cannot be understated.
John Lennon once described death as "getting out of one car, and into another." Senna still drives, just as he did in life; on a different level to all of us.
Driven by an intense passion for cars seemingly since birth, Jonny throws himself into his writing as if it was a twisty corner in his native region of Devon. A region he once described as "one of the best places in the world to analyze a car". Whilst lost, he once drove around aimlessly for nine and half hours inside central Paris, and he's still getting over it. He currently writes for both www.drivingspirit.com and www.roadmag.co.uk.