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Ayrton Senna, Forumla 1 Legend, Died 19 Years Ago (PICTURES)

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Nineteen years ago today the sporting world was shocked when Williams Forumla One driver Ayrton Senna died at the San Marino Grand Prix.

The Brazilian, three times F1 World Champion, entered the high-speed Tamburello corner on lap seven only for his Williams car to leave the track and hit the concrete retaining wall at around 135mph.

He was declared dead hours later at Bologna's Maggiore Hospital, a day after Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger perished during qualifying. In Senna's wrecked vehicle was an Austrian flag he planned to unfurl at the finish line in tribute to Ratzenberger.

There have been no further fatalities in F1, mainly thanks to the sport's neurosurgeon Sid Watkins. A great friend of Senna's, Watkins was too distraught to travel to South America for his funeral. He died, aged 84, in September last year.

senna

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Senna's success in the sport occasionally lifted the gloom which loomed over his impoverished country. Brazil's hegemony in world football had ended and Senna's success elevated him to national hero.

Three days of mourning were declared in the his home country after his death, as an estimated three million people flocked to the streets of São Paulo to pay their respects.

Aged 34 when he passed away, Senna's legacy and life-story in the sport and he was immortalised in Asif Kapadia's superb 2010 documentary, which won a Bafta.

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