From The Driving Seat header



Pierre Gasly experiences Senna’s first-ever F1 racer

Honouring 30 years since motorsport lost a legend 

Curtain-raiser for tribute display at Silverstone Festival

Revving up for the very special tribute display of Ayrton Senna’s race cars at this summer’s Silverstone Festival, current Formula 1 driver, Pierre Gasly, was recently at Silverstone putting the Brazilian’s first-ever F1 car through its paces.

Senna made his Grand Prix debut 40 years ago in the history-making Toleman TG183B back in 1984 and also scored his maiden World Championship points in it. The Toleman will be one of the many iconic machines on show over the Bank Holiday weekend (23-25 August). 

During his stellar career, Senna scored more victories at Silverstone than any other circuit and, honouring his extraordinary achievements, Silverstone Festival will showcase many of those exalted winners. 

Gasly’s laps in the Toleman were filmed by Sky F1 as part of a moving tribute to Senna’s incredible legacy being aired over the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, 30 years after the tragic accident at the same Imola circuit.  

Although he was born nearly two years after Senna’s death, the BWT Alpine F1 driver is a huge admirer of the three-time world champion and is racing at Imola in an hugely evocative Senna-inspired helmet with the support of the Senna family. Fuelling further memories, he wore the same poignant helmet when piloting the South American’s breakthrough Toleman at Silverstone. 

“I can’t remember such an incredible experience,” admitted a clearly stirred Frenchman. “Driving Senna’s first-ever F1 car exceeded all my expectations. It was so emotional. I had never before been in a racing car older than me and the purity of the driving was incredible – just three pedals and a simple steering wheel, quite unlike what I’m used to in a modern F1 car. It was a once-in-a-lifetime episode that I will never forget. Very, very special.” 

There was added significance, too, as the ambitious little Toleman team for which Senna made his F1 debut was later purchased by Benetton and then Renault before evolving into the Alpine F1 organisation for which Gasly races today.

Silverstone Festival visitors will be treated to displays from both ends of the spectrum this summer. The milestone Toleman will be one of the many amazing highlights in the unique display of star cars paying tribute to the great Ayrton Senna for which the Senna family have given their blessing, while the latest Alpine A524 will be one of a number of current F1 show cars wowing crowds in the event’s ever-popular FanZone. Admittance to both exhibits is included in the price of all Silverstone Festival tickets.