Ayrton Senna

1 de August de 2018

Oi, pessoal! Today we’re learning about the greatest racing driver Brazil has ever seen. Ayrton Senna was a Brazilian F1 driver, considered to be one of the best. He made a name for himself and it has become a benchmark for Brazil and throughout the world when talking about racing. So, let’s learn about him and also the vocabulary of motor racing in Portuguese?

Early Life of Ayrton Senna Driver

Ayrton Senna da Silva, born in São Paulo, was always keen on wheels, he loved his little jeep that his family had given him and never stopped driving the thing around his family’s farm.

He started racing as young as 13 years old, driving go-karts and competing all over the country, including in the South American Kart Championship, which he won, and the Karting World Championship as runner up in 1979 and 1980 finally moving to one-seaters, winning the RAC and Townsend-Thoreson Formula Ford 1600 Championships, and then starting his career in Formula 1.
He first debuted in Toleman-Hart and began his great journey from there.

Formula 1 Career

Debuting in 1984 for Toleman, Senna had a bumpy road and started slowly, but quickly rose through the ranks, becoming a legend and winning nonstop. His first race was the 1984 Brazilian Grand Prix in Rio de Janeiro but his first win was not until the 1985 FIA Formula One World Championship in Estoril, Portugal. After this didn’t have a single year without a race win until 1994.  He raced for many teams, in order they were: Toleman, Lotus, McLaren and finally Williams amassing numerous records, many that he still holds to this day.


Talking of records, here’s what they were for:

Record Where
Most wins leading throughout a GP (19) 1990 GP
Most consecutive pole positions (8) 1988 Italian GP – 1989 United States GP
Most consecutive front row starts (24) 1988 German GP – 1989 Australian GP
Most consecutive wins on the same GP circuit (5) Monaco GP 1989 – 1993
Most pole positions on the same GP circuit (8) San Marino GP 1985 – 1991, 1994
Most consecutive pole positions on the same GP circuit (7) San Marino GP 1985 – 1994
Highest percentage of front row starts in a season (100%) 1989


Ayrton Senna Driver Accident

Senna tragically died in a crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at the age of 34.

It was a difficult day, starting with a crash right at the beginning between Finland’s J.J Lehto and Portuguese Pedro Lamy that had all the others drivers worried.

On Senna’s seventh lap, his Williams didn’t respond to his commands and he went straight for the Tamburello corner at 233 km/h (145 mph), after 2 minutes he was removed from the crash by the medical team and rushed by helicopter to Bologna’s Maggiore Hospital. He was reported dead at 18:40 that same day, but the official time of death is 14:17, exactly when he hit the wall and his brain stopped working.

A black cloud marked that weekend and it was considered a national tragedy, the Brazilian government declared a 3-day mourning and millions went to the streets to pay their respects to a true Brazilian hero.


Ayrton Senna. Ayrton Senna se tornou lendário.

Senna’s name is legendary in Brazil, it’s the primary reference when talking about F1 or racing in general.

Before his death he had spoken with his sister about building a charitable organization, Viviane Senna embraced this idea and started the Ayrton Senna Institute, which helps with the human development of young Brazilians and even have their own mascot; Senninha (Little Senna) to represent him as a role model for all children.

In July 1994, Brazil’s national football team won the 1994 World Cup and dedicated it to Senna by holding up a banner after defeating Italy in the final.

He inspire many songs, books, documentaries and memorials around the world in various forms. His name echoes still today as a god among men. Ayrton Senna will be forever remembered and as his tombstone inscription reads Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

Vocabulary about motor racing in Portuguese

Now let’s take a look at the vocabulary of motor racing in Portuguese:

O piloto Driver
O piloto de corrida Racing driver
A corrida Race
As rodas Wheels
Dirigir/Pilotar To drive
O campeonato Championship
Vencer To win
A vitória Victory
O recorde Record
Largar To start
A primeira fila Front row
O acidente Accident
A batida Crash
A volta Lap
A curva Corner/Curve
O legado Legacy
A bandeira quadriculada Checkered flag
O sinal de largada Signal to start
O box do piloto/time Driver/team box
O pódio Podium 
O troféu Trophy
O boné Cap 
O capacete Helmet
O carro  Car
O carro de um assento Single-seat car
O circuito de rua Street circuit
A transmissão Transmission
A caixa de marcha Gearbox
O volante Steering wheel
Os freios Brakes 
 A asa/ o aerofólio Wing / Airfoil 
 A área de escape Escape area 
 O pneu Tyre 
 O circuito Circuit 
 O pit stop Pit stop 
A bandeira vermelha Red flag
A bandeira preta Black flag
A bandeira verde Green flag
A largada Start
A última volta Last lap

And that’s it! Now you know who Ayrton Senna was. Control the urge to cry knowing that he will be forever loved, not only by god but by all those who ever met him or simply heard about him.

Want to feel closer to Ayrton Senna learning more about Brazilian culture and Portuguese grammar? Check out our new online Portuguese course and come talk to us! 

Stay tuned for more Dicas here at Rio & Learn, see you later!

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