Born in S?o Paulo, the son of a wealthy Brazilian landowner, he quickly developed an interest in motor racing. Encouraged by his father, a racing enthusiast, young Ayrton got behind the wheel of his first kart at the age of four. He entered karting competition at the legal age of 13. In 1977, Senna won the South American Kart Championship.
Heading for Europe in 1981, he entered the British Formula Ford 1600 competition, which he won. He also adopted his mother's maiden name, Senna, as da Silva is a very common name in Brazil. In 1982 Senna combined the British and European Formula Ford 2000 Championships, winning both. In addition to winning the prestigious and high-profile Macau Grand Prix, Ayrton saw off the challenges of Martin Brundle in the 1983 British F3 championship and secured a seat with the Toleman-Hart F1 team in 1984. His talents did not go unnoticed, especially after he impressed at the Monaco GP under wet and difficult conditions. The next year, Senna joined the Lotus team and won his first GP at Estoril, Portugal under treacherous conditions.
In 1988 Senna joined the McLaren racing team with Alain Prost as his team mate. The foundation for a fierce competition between Senna and Prost was laid, culminating in a number of dramatic race incidents between the two.
On the track, Senna could be ruthless at times, showing extreme determination and precision, especially in qualifying, a discipline he had mastered like no one before (resulting in a record 65 poles). In the wet, Senna was unchallenged, and in 1993 at the European GP at Donington Park, Senna demonstrated his exceptional wet driving skills by humiliating his opponents at the wheel of an...