Only a Game? Here’s to Williams and here’s to Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna.
Ayrton Senna.

They will not win the 2014 Formula One Championship but Williams have won my respect.

Ayrton Senna will be dead 20 years on May 1 this year and to mark the anniversary of his death, Williams will feature the image of the three time world champion on the side of their cars for 2014.

Senna died in 1994 when his Williams F1 car crashed during the San Marino Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher will probably be remembered as the greatest ever racing driver but Senna captured hearts and imaginations in a way no one else ever could.

Senna was 34 years-old when he died but I was a pre-pubescent 12 year-old at the time and to me, he was like my best friend.

I remember being in the car with my father and younger brother after a Sunday spent walking in Downhill. The song on the radio stopped and the news reader apologised for interupting the broadcast; then came the words I will never forget: ‘Ayrton Senna has died’.

I’d never experienced anything close to loss or grief at that stage in my life but when Senna died it was as if my world was over.

Obviously, looking back now, it’s utterly ridiculous for me to suggest I felt a sense of profound loss at Senna’s passing. I didn’t know him but I was still sad nonetheless. He was my hero and when you’re a 12 year-old boy growing up, your heroes have more influence over you then than at any other stage in your life.

Senna was a genius. He was bigger than Formula One. Fans flocked from far and wide to get of glimpse of him in his unmistakable yellow and green helmet.

There have been no F1 deaths since Senna died and whilst the sport has changed sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse over the years, 2014 will be a special year as it gives F1 fans from all over the world to remember and bask in his genius.

The big hitters in the 2014 championship will no doubt be Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Lotus but when it comes to class and sincerity, Williams win hands down for t its decision to remember the Brazilian racing driver the way he would have liked.

Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton was not to my liking until last year. When Hamilton was with McLaren he was irksome and akward but last year he certainly impressed me.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel drove a super car last year and although the German won his fourth consecutive world championship, Hamilton proved he is one of the quickest and most naturally gifted drivers on the grid.

Hamilton will be 2014’s dark horse.

Chianti and F1

If McLaren beat Ferrari in this year’s Formula One championship I owe a civil servant from Derry a bottle of rum.

I’ve never met Jim Nicholas, in fact if he walked past me in the street I wouldn’t know him but as a result of the wonderful world of social media we are able to exchange F1 themed insults.

Jim might have his eyes on a bottle of rum but when Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso lead Ferrari to their first constructor’s championship since 2008 I will be salivating over the prospect of Jim delivering a tasty bottle of Barone Ricasoli Rocca Guicciarda, Chianti Classico Riserva.