In the mid-80s, I was introduced to the world of Formula 1 racing through the-then, India’s only sports magazine called The Sportstar. India was and is a one-sport, cricket crazy nation. It was natural for the media to cover everything about cricket. But if you were lucky, you would have one page on motorsports. And most often, it was after the championship.
In the ‘90s, the invasion of cable television happened. Even those televisions weren’t geared for this revolution (most televisions had 12 buttons as channels). I had to wait till I cleared higher secondary school before we could get cable television at home. My telescope into a world miles away!
It was in April 1994, when I actually saw an F1 race live on television. Formation laps, the pits, the commentators and the grid girls – everything was new and mesmerising. This was more exciting than that single page article. I felt I was right there! Still, India wasn’t ready for F1, as Sachin Tendulkar had taken over the heart and mind. Even today, I remember my cousins laughing at me back then for watching cars go in circles. But those who missed F1 then missed the roar of the loud engines.
Like millions of Ayrton Senna fans, I followed the journey of the champ from McLaren to Williams. Unlike what I’d read about him, it was unfortunate for me to see him struggle with the new car. Things weren’t going the way we hoped for.
Then, in May 1994, we know what happened. It’s clear in my memory; where I was sitting - the color of the television cabinet. It was a horrific crash and the legend was no more. I felt that my world was shattered because I could no longer see my hero race. What is Formula One racing without Senna? I went off F1 for a very long time!
Now, after the invasion of high-speed internet and portable devices, I still see old races of the greatest driver. My admiration for him has grown because it wasn't just his skills that mattered, but his mental toughness and dedication to the sport. And when we hear about his charity work and kind heart, we realise that we truly lost a legend way too early.
Though I’m a MotoGP follower and don’t follow F1, Ayrton Senna is one of the greatest sportspersons ever, and a person I admire the most. This design is a tribute from my end, to him and his will to win.