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Sempre Senna: F1 honors Ayrton Senna on 30th anniversary of his passing

Updated: May 23

A sticker on the wing of a Visa Cash App RB F1 car with Ayrton Senna's eyes and "Senna 30 Years."
Formula 1 teams, including Visa Cash App RB, paid tribute to Ayrton Senna on the 30th anniversary of his death. Credit: Rudy Carezzevoli, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Even though the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix is considered a home race for Ferrari, the 2024 race weekend wasn't covered in red, but in yellow.

For the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna's passing, Formula 1 paid tribute to the Brazilian driver and his legacy. Senna is a name that will forever live in the sport's history and lore. The three-time world champion died tragically on May 1, 1994 at the age of 34 during a crash at Imola's then-San Marino Grand Prix.

The 2024 race at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari was filled with T-shirts, car decals and heartfelt words to express gratitude for Senna's impact. The tributes will extend into the next stop on the F1 calendar, Monaco, a track that Senna mastered like none other.

McLaren unveils Ayrton Senna tribute livery for 2024 Monaco GP

Senna's legacy was etched in stone during his time with McLaren, where he won his three world championships. He won the Monaco Grand Prix five times with the British squad and finished his career with six victories at the street race.

On Tuesday, McLaren unveiled its F1 livery for the 2024 Monaco Grand Prix, which is a tribute to Senna. The papaya orange is replaced with the yellow of the Brazilian flag and a splash of green on the back of the car. There are also blue elements, including "Senna" written on both sides of the front wing. Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri will have special edition racing overalls for the competition.

"Senna remains revered and respected as Formula 1’s greatest icon, and McLaren’s most decorated driver," McLaren CEO Zak Brown said in a statement. "His impact on McLaren is enormous, not only through his racing record but also presence within the team, and now his legacy, so it’s an honour to race for him at his most successful circuit in his green, yellow and blue colours. ... With it being the thirtieth anniversary of his passing, the team are choosing to recognise and celebrate his life at one of his favourite and most successful places to race, Monaco. We look forward to racing in this vibrant and beautiful livery this weekend.”  

The company also introduced a special edition of the street legal McLaren Senna. It has a handpainted exterior featuring a blend of blue, green and yellow and a dot portrait of the Brazilian icon.

A yellow McLaren F1 car and multicolored McLaren Senna paying tribute to Ayrton Senna.
McLaren unveiled a yellow livery for the 2024 F1 Monaco Grand Prix and a special edition McLaren Senna to pay tribute to Ayrton Senna. Credit: McLaren Racing

“It's a fantastic way to celebrate his life and legacy through his iconic colours on both cars," Senna's niece, Bianca Senna, who is the CEO of Senna Brand, said in a statement. "McLaren meant a lot to him, and together they achieved a lot of success, much of which he is still remembered for today by so many. It will be special to see it race the streets of Monaco, a circuit which gave him so much joy and many triumphs."

Norris, who got his maiden win at the Miami Grand Prix earlier this month, said on social media that his helmet for Monaco will pay tribute to Senna as well.

Sebastian Vettel drives Ayrton Senna's McLaren, leads tribute run at Imola

Fellow world champion Sebastian Vettel paid tribute to Senna by driving the late icon's 1993 McLaren MP4/8 for an exhibition run at Imola ahead of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix on Sunday. Vettel wore yellow racing overalls to pay tribute to Senna's Brazilian heritage and a split yellow and white helmet to remember the lives of two drivers.

Senna's death wasn't the only tragedy that fateful weekend. A day earlier, Roland Ratzenberger died in a crash during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix. His death was overshadowed by that of the three-time champion. But Senna had plans to make sure Ratzenberger's memory was not lost. According to, when Senna's car was examined after the crash, officials found an Austrian flag that he was supposedly going to fly in honor of his fellow driver.

Vettel held out both a Brazilian flag and an Austrian flag during his demo run, which was met with loud applause. He further electrified the crowd with a series of donuts and, after parking the car, knelt down and bowed to the flags.

"It's so great to see so many people, so much joy and excitement they have when they see the car," Vettel said after his demo run. "When I brought the flag out, I think it was exploding when it comes to emotions, so really special. I was shouting their names under the helmet. Certainly, one of the most emotional moments I had behind the wheel. ... One of these moments you'd like to sort of freeze and hold onto a bit longer."

On Thursday, Vettel organized a run in honor of the two fallen drivers. Many of the current F1 drivers and other members of the teams braved the rain and joined while wearing yellow T-shirts that said, "#Forever" for Senna and red and white wristbands for Ratzenberger.

Credit: Mark Thompson, Getty Images/Red Bull Content Pool

Pierre Gasly pays tribute to 'huge inspiration' Ayrton Senna with yellow helmet

There were many other tributes throughout the weekend at Imola. Visa Cash App RB and Red Bull had a decal on each car's wing that said, "Senna 30 Years." Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon wore a yellow balaclava under their helmets that said "Senna" on the side.

Pierre Gasly wore a yellow helmet by BS Designs in honor of his childhood hero. The French driver revealed the helmet during a special exhibition at Silverstone before heading to Imola.

"He was a huge inspiration since my first days karting and I had the chance and privilege to drive his first ever F1 car (a Toleman 1984) in Silverstone couple of days ago," Gasly said in an Instagram post. Senna made his F1 debut as a member of Toleman 40 years ago and scored his first points in the car. After a few ownership changes, Toleman is now Alpine, which Gasly is a part of. "It was an incredible experience and feeling to be sat in his car with this special helmet. It was such a unique feeling to get a taste of what it was like back in the days, just a man and his machine. A feeling and a day I won’t forget. Thanks to all the people who made it possible."

After the race, Gasly signed the helmet and it went up for auction with F1 Authentics where fans can bid on it through May 28. Proceeds will go to Instituto Ayrton Senna, an education and youth development program.

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