A ground-breaking study spearheaded by the FIA - The Federation International de l’Automobile and Formula 1 sponsor Amazon Web Services has bestowed the title of the fastest driver in history upon the legendary Ayrton Senna. By employing machine learning to scrutinize the qualifying performances of drivers spanning 37 years since 1983, the research has given a nod to Senna's extraordinary prowess on the race track.
Ayrton Senna, who emerged as the unequivocal speed titan, held a remarkable record of 65 pole positions throughout his 162-race career. Senna was known not just for his exceptional speed, but also for his uncanny ability to read the nuances of a race, his daring overtakes, and his almost mystical rapport with his vehicle. He had an unparalleled understanding of the car's mechanics and could adapt his driving style to any situation, a trait that set him apart from his contemporaries.
What's even more impressive about Senna's speed is that he was often quicker by a tenth of a second per lap than another racing legend, Michael Schumacher, who himself achieved 68 pole positions across his 308-race career. This gap, though seemingly minor, underscores Senna's supremacy in the realm of raw speed, considering Schumacher's own extraordinary record.
While the current racing sensation Lewis Hamilton secured the third rank, trailing 0.275s behind Senna, despite his recent achievement of a 92nd pole position, it provides an indication of Senna's enduring impact on the sport. The Brazilian champion was a force of nature on the track, and his records, even decades after his untimely demise, continue to be a benchmark for the sport's greatest.
Senna's legacy goes beyond his victories and pole positions. He is revered for his audacious spirit, his steely determination, and the captivating charisma that made him one of the most beloved figures in the sport. His uncanny skill to command his car, irrespective of weather or track conditions, and his insatiable appetite for success, have ensured his legacy remains alive and continues to inspire future generations.
The study, by spotlighting Senna's speed, serves as a potent reminder of his extraordinary contribution to Formula 1. While the rankings also featured current drivers such as Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, and Sebastian Vettel in the top ten, Senna's place at the apex is a testament to his enduring dominance and influence in the world of motor racing.