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The eternal legacy of Ayrton Senna

On Saturday, the Circuit de Monaco hosted a very special parade in honour of the great Brazilian champion. A spectacular line-up recalling the major stages that led him to his greatest successes, at the pinnacle of Formula 1. 

One go-kart and four single-seaters that have gone down in legend. What they all have in common is that they all passed through the hands of the master driver, Ayrton Senna. This parade in tribute to his career was made possible thanks to the work of teams from the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM), in close liaison with the Instituto Ayrton Senna, Lotus Héritage and the McLaren Academy.

At the wheel of these machines from another era, renowned and up-and-coming drivers took to the track for a few laps, much to the delight of the many spectators who stayed in the grandstands at lunchtime so as not to miss a crumb of this exceptional spectacle. Young people were also involved in this tribute, as two members of the McLaren Drivers Academy, Gabriele Bortoleto and Cristina Gutiérrez, were invited to drive the Brazilian legend’s 1977 go-kart and a Formula Ford Van Diemen RF82.

Moved to tears, Eddie Irvine savoured every moment of his few minutes in the Ralt RT3 of the 1983 Macau Grand Prix. Then came the F1 years! Starting with the Toleman TG184 in which Ayrton Senna made his debut in the sport, driven by Stefan Johansson, while Thierry Boutsen flourished in the 1985 Lotus 97T in which Ayrton Senna won his first two Grands Prix, in Portugal and Belgium.

And how could you organise a parade in tribute to this ace driver without lining up a McLaren on the track? Wearing an evocative helmet in the colours of Brazil, Bruno Senna, the nephew with 46 F1 starts to his name, revved up the engine of this MP4/5B from 1990, at a time when Ayrton Senna shared the McLaren garage with Gerhard Berger. “It’s an incredible car, I had a lot of fun driving it, and with the noise of its Honda V10 engine, I think the spectators were very happy,” said Bruno Senna in the pits after the parade.

This commemorative moment was punctuated by the presence on the starting grid of H.S.H. Prince Albert II of Monaco. A souvenir photo taken for the occasion will live long in the memory. Other big names in the sport, such as Zak Brown and Monegasque Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, also attended this moment suspended in time.

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