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Ayrton Senna legend status not just due to his death - Ron Dennis

Ayrton Senna, McLaren, British GP 1988

Perceptions of Ayrton Senna as arguably Formula 1's greatest driver are not just the result of his life being cut short in its prime, says his former boss Ron Dennis.

The Brazilian's status has continued to grow ever since he was killed at Imola in 1994, with the F1 world's outpouring of emotion on the 20th anniversary of that weekend showing how highly he is still regarded.

But while Senna's death has helped immortalise his legend, Dennis says that the three-time world champion's talent and human qualities are just as important in explaining why he is still worshipped.

When asked why he believed so many people consider Senna to have been the greatest, Dennis said: "I think because he was so good for all the period he was on the planet.

"I can see no positives in the fact that he had an accident and lost his life, but what you didn't see is any decline.

"You remember he was just unbelievably competitive and then boom, he is not there. So what do you remember?

"I have never thought, 'I wonder what Ayrton would look like if he was here today.'

"But above all, he was great. He had good human values. He was very principled.

"I remember of course the race in Suzuka [in 1990], where he and [Alain] Prost collided at the first corner.

"I looked at all the traces, the brake and the throttle pedals, and you didn't need to be Einstein to work out what happened. He came back to the pits and I said, 'I am disappointed in you'.

"He got it. He didn't have to say any more. It was one of his rare moments of weakness."

This week's AUTOSPORT magazine - available online and in shops from Thursday May 1 - is an Imola 1994 special, commemorating 20 years since the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger:

The Imola grid looks back
The drivers from the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix recall their experiences from one of motorsport's darkest weekends.

Senna's legacy in Brazil
Brazilian correspondent Lito Cavalcanti investigates how Senna changed Brazil, and how he is still remembered.

Prost on Senna
Senna's great rival talks about how their rift healed in the final months of Ayrton's life.

Berger on Senna
Senna's former McLaren team-mate on how the duo became good friends.

Ratzenberger remembered
Adam Cooper looks back at the Austrian's pursuit of his F1 dream, which ended so tragically at Imola.

Brabham on Simtek
David Brabham reveals he feels lucky to have got out of the 1994 San Marino GP alive.

Analysis: how Imola 1994 changed F1
Edd Straw assesses the way Formula 1 reacted to the deaths of Senna and Ratzenberger.

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