May 1st marks the 23rd anniversary of the accident that claimed the life of Brazilian racing legend Ayrton Senna at Imola. RaceDepartment mark the anniversary of his death by looking back at the legend that was Ayrton Senna da Silva, Brazilian patriot and three time Formula One World Champion during his 10 years in the sport. Just to simply look at Senna's career statistics paint an incredible picture of a driver who many believe to have been the ultimate competitive sportsman during his Formula One career. Driving in an era where mechanical failures were par for the course during a racing season, and where the likelihood of receiving serious injuries from accidents on tracks now regarded far below the acceptable standard of todays track designs, Senna rose above an exceptionally talented field of drivers throughout his time in the sport and quickly became synonymous with the daredevil lifestyle of a racing driver the world over. However behind the uncompromising mask of a driver known to give his all whenever sat behind the wheel of a racing car sat a complicated and reserved individual, deeply spiritual and often displaying contradictory behaviours when competing wheel to wheel with his rivals at over 200 mph. Known to be an advocate of the wellbeing of his fellow man, Senna would often think nothing of pushing a rival dangerously close to a major accident in order to retain a competitive advantage, even going so far as to controversially collide with bitter rival and one time teammate Alain Prost at the championship deciding Japanese Grand Prix in 1990, securing a title for himself and his McLaren team against Frenchman Prost's Scudaria Ferrari car. Despite the controversy that often followed Senna and his actions out on circuit, the driver cultivated a cult like status in his Brazilian homeland, seen by the millions of Brazilians the world over as a champion of the people. Senna and later the posthumous activities of his Ayrton Senna Foundation charity have raised countless millions of dollars to support those less fortunate within his beloved home country. Following the fatal accident that claimed the life of Senna aged just 34 during the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1st 1994 Brazil went into a state of emotional meltdown, with the Brazilian government even going so far as to declare three days of national mourning, such was the reach of the driver within his homeland. The great champions funeral held in Sao Paulo was thought to have been attended by over 3 million people, including almost everyone who was anyone in the world of Grand Prix motorsport. Perhaps of the greatest legacy left by Senna's time in Formula One comes the raft of improvements to driver safety introduced by the FIA following both Senna's accident and that of Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger on the Friday of the same event. Following such a high profile fatality aired live worldwide, the governing body of world motorsport sought to greatly improve safety within Formula One racing after admitting the sport had become complacent in recent seasons. With the introduction of high cockpit sides for the 1996 Grand Prix season having been directly attributed to saving serious injury or even fatal consequences since it's introduction, the legacy left by one single Brazilian sportsman following his dreams in a foreign country resonate through motor racing to this very day. Ayrton Senna da Silva was an incredible talent, a complicated man and a legend of a sport built on the back of legendary characters. Without doubt the mark made by Senna during his career in Formula One is unlikely to ever be repeated again. I for one am proud and honoured to have seen much of his career unfold on my TV screen live, and can clearly remember where I was, what I was wearing, what I was thinking and the tears I shed as Senna exited the Tamburello corner for the final time on Sunday 1st May 1994. A driver died that day at Imola, a legend lives on. Ayrton Senna Career Statistics: Races: 162 Race Starts: 161 Drivers' Titles: 3 Wins: 41 Poles: 65 Podiums: 80 Points: 614 Fastest Laps: 19 Laps: 8236 Teams: Toleman, Lotus, McLaren, Williams For more Formula One news and discussions, head over to the RaceDepartment Formula One sub forum and get yourself involved in the action! Did you ever see Senna race in person or on TV? Do you regard Senna as one of the most complete racing drivers of all time? Let us know in the comments section below!