Ayrton Senna: World pays tribute to a legend

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The 20th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna marked across the world

The triple world champion died following at crash at the Imola Circuit in 1994

Legends of motorsport flocked to the track to pay their respects to Senna

Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger died the before Senna

CNN  — 

He was a Formula One driver who transcended his sport and even 20 years after his death, Ayrton Senna commands the adoration of fans across the world.

This week marks the anniversary of the crash at the Imola Circuit in Italy which took the life of the Brazilian driver, just 24 hours after Austria’s Roland Ratzenberger had suffered the same fate.

Tributes have poured in for both drivers, with a memorial service held at the track which claimed the lives of both men on Thursday.

A collection of motorsport legends past and present were in attendance, where a minute’s silence was observed at 14:17 local time – the exact time of Senna’s accident two decades earlier.

Fans paid their own tributes to Senna, with many laying floral tributes at the feet of the bronze statue of the triple world champion which sits near the section of the track where he crashed.

Senna’s passing was the last time a driver has died as a result of a crash at a grand prix, in a sport which in its formative decades had become infamous for driver fatalities.

“Senna was very important for Formula One, as a driver and a person and his death led to a rapid acceleration in the process of increasing the level of safety in our sport,” Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen told the sport’s official website.

“That has avoided other tragedies from occurring. Unfortunately however, one cannot change the past, neither for Ayrton nor for Roland Ratzenberger.

“The only thing we can do is remember this champion, whose exploits defined the history of Formula One for a long time.”

The Imola Circuit will be open until Sunday for the public to pay their respects to the drivers.

Read: The life and death of F1’s forgotten man

In Brazil, Senna’s grave in the city of Sao Paulo was adorned with wreaths and bright bouquets. He was laid to rest in the Morumbi Cemetery.

Senna’s sister Viviane, unveiled an Azul Brazilian airline aircraft with the colors of Senna’s iconic yellow helmet on its nose.

Vivianne is the head of the Ayrton Senna Institute, which partners with major corporations to give educational opportunities to millions of children across Brazil.

Brazilian football team Corinthians paid tribute to one of the country’s most famous sporting icons by walking out onto the pitch in replicas of Senna’s brightly-colored helmet ahead of Wednesday’s match against National AM.

Read: Ayrton Senna’s greatest moments

Read: Remembering the “King of Monte Carlo”