Senna logo on the Williams, Monza, 2019

Why Williams have stopped carrying a tribute to Ayrton Senna on their F1 car

2022 F1 season

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Williams CEO Jost Capito has confirmed the team will no longer feature a tribute logo to Ayrton Senna on the nose of their Formula 1 cars.

Since the death of the three-times Formula 1 world champion during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, while driving a Williams FW16, each subsequent Formula 1 car manufactured by the team has featured both Senna’s personal logo as well as a graphic of the driver with the slogan “Ayrton Senna sempre” – meaning “Ayrton Senna forever” in Portuguese.

However the logo is not present on images of the livery the team’s new FW44 will carry this year. Capito explained that the team will no longer run with the tribute to the team’s former driver on their cars moving forward.

“The decision was that we want to move on in the future,” Capito said. “We have a new era, we have a new car and we also refurbished our museum where have a special area to celebrate Ayrton.

“I think we had to look now to the future and not showing the drivers the ‘S’ every time they get in the car and being reminded of what happened. I think it’s now time for the team to move on and be very honourable to Senna and having a very dedicated space to him in the museum to honour him there.”

Williams FW44 livery, 2022
Images: Williams present their new livery for 2022 season
The decision, Capito says, was made without the consultation of the Senna family or the Ayrton Senna Foundation, a non-profit organisation to support underprivileged youth in Brazil which was set up by Viviane Senna, Ayrton’s sister, and currently run by Bianca Senna, his niece. But Capito said that the despite removing the tribute from their cars, the team will continue to support the Ayrton Senna Foundation.

“We didn’t have a consultation or talk with the family,” Capito explained. “But we are working with the foundation and we will increase our efforts with the foundation and then work with the foundation how we can support the Senna foundation more.

“I think that there are more people that will benefit from this and if it can help people especially through the foundation and I think that’s a very good programme but it has to be still finally defined.”

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 49 comments on “Why Williams have stopped carrying a tribute to Ayrton Senna on their F1 car”

    1. That makes no sense…

    2. ” «The decision was that we want to move on in the future» Capito said.”
      Yeah, it has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that the man who insisted on keeping the logo is gone…

      1. Yeah. That sentence could have been better.

      2. Like saying someone else was responsible why should we live with the burden.

    3. They’ve just got this wrong. A real misstep from the team.

    4. Absolutely right. No reason to be stuck in the past forever.

    5. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
      15th February 2022, 14:50

      Ah that’s a shame. It’s part of the Williams identity and history. It’s not like they’re struggling for sponsor space.

    6. I can see their point of view on this. It’s been nearly 30 years. Who and what Senna was and did is well documented. I think the people that are based at Grove now are other people.

      If it was my choice, I’d keep it. But it isn’t.

      There’s always a plaque on a bench or a train station platform, or a bar stool celebrating someone who was incredible at their job and took care of their friends ‘Peter ‘Smithy’ Smith’ that everyone loved and he loved everyone. But eventually time passes and someone takes the plaques down because of disrepair or nobody in the pub was even born when that person died.

      It sounds cruel. But it’s what happens. At least with Senna, people aren’t going to forget him for an incredibly long time, he lives on in many films, eulogies, pictures, statistics and stories. A sticker on a car, for a team he raced 2 and a bit races for means very little in terms of anything really regarding Senna. He’s much bigger than that.

      I would have told the family first though.

      1. Just to clarify, my point is not to say Senna is the same as ‘Smithy’ only that people do these things to keep their memory alive, and Sennas’ will live a lot longer than ‘Smithy’, regardless of a sticker. I don’t know who the youngest contributor of this site is, but when they’re in their 70’s, they’ll still mention Senna.

        1. Roth Man (@rdotquestionmark)
          15th February 2022, 15:19

          Rip Smithy.

          1. @rdotquestionmark Rip indeed, I’ll send our condolences to The Smiths.

        2. I agree everyone should be remembered in some way but I also agree that was so far in the past, how far back should one remember?

          There is also the issue of should a team memorialise every driver who died racing for them in a similar way? If not, why should Williams do it for Senna and no one else do it for other drivers who historically drove for them? Ferrari and most of the rest of the grid if you count their buy and sell lineage should have a paragraph of tributes to someone, which sponsors wouldn’t want to be associated with I’m sure.

          This is sort of what has held Williams back in modern times I feel. 30 years ago you were great, rule changes and they never adapted quickly enough. Good to see they are modernising finally. This and the gearbox show that.

          History is what you make it, not what it was

      2. Jose Lopes da Silva
        15th February 2022, 20:19

        Almost no one remembers Fangio today, let alone Ascari.
        It was graceful of Hamilton to evoque “the godfather of the sport” sometime ago.

        1. Well, who love the F1 and the history of Motorsport know and remember Fangio, Nuvolari, Caracciola, etc.
          In the case of Senna there are tons of videos, images, articles, books and docs.

          1. Jose Lopes da Silva
            16th February 2022, 20:34

            +1

        2. Kimberley Barrass
          16th February 2022, 16:11

          Id love to see a poll on this site about that. I bet the better percentage of everyone here knows Fangio and Ascari. At least they did back when it was called f1 fanatics anyway.. I’m assuming the demographic hasn’t changed too much..

          1. Jose Lopes da Silva
            16th February 2022, 20:44

            +1

        3. Remember El Chueco? Well, he retired 64 years ago . So, if you started watching F1 at six and are over 70 you still can remember him racing. Not a majority, surely. Myself, I don’t, my F1 memories begin with Jackie Stewart. I missed also Ascari, Jim Clark, Stirling Moss…

          Still I am absolutely awed by what Fangio did. For me he is the undisputed GOAT. His absolute numbers are relatively small (too few season with too few races each season if we compare with present times) but his percentages (wins, poles, you name it) are way over anybody else’s. When I hear about someone else being called the most successful driver of all time or stuff like that, it sound totally moronic to me.

    7. That little ‘S’ on every year’s Williams cars, that tribute, is a special thing. This is one of those minor things that stood out as good and graceful about Williams and F1, for me. Senna is still a larger than life figure in all of Motorsport. Having any association with that name on a racecar, as a tradition, is a beautiful thing.

      Why remove that little sign of respect? What other purpose does it serve than probably removing a personal(emotional) choice of the previous team owner?

      Bad choice, reverse it.

    8. Williams cars featured a Senna tribute reference this whole?
      I’ve never noticed in my time watching & following F1, even though this has happened, coincidently, pretty much throughout my age.

      1. “’I’ve never noticed in my time watching & following F1” – same here. Who knew?

      2. Montoya’s move to F1 with Williams is what got me started on F1, never noticed after all this time. Even when nephew Bruno drove for them for a year.

        Yet I am aware of and have always noticed Lauda’s red star on the Mercedes, though this is only a few years old.

      3. @jerejj @elchinero @reg Neither have I but as I watched some pictures from the 2000s at least I see a little S logo in 2005 middle of front wing inside that little upward wing.

        1. 1996 same upward wing but outside

    9. Well, the last bit of greatness that was associated with Williams is no longer represented.

      1. @ucat33 Really? As far as I can tell, the name ‘Williams’ is still there…

        1. I will clarify. Driver greatness.

    10. It’s fine, it never made sense to me why Williams would have a permanent Senna tribute, he was only there for 3 races, it always seemed to me like it was a way to suck up to the public because he died in their car.

      If anyone should carry a Senna tribute it should be Mclaren, like they sometime do with their road cars.

      1. Absolutely, was thinking the same, mclaren should have it instead!

    11. Now just rename the team to show it’s a completely new entity with new values and management if you’re then concerned about focusing on the future rather than the past. Or dare we mention you want to maintain the Williams name and it’s title winning history to inflate your sponsorship prices. The team is under new ownership so they’re welcome to do what they want but if you don’t want to respect the teams history then you don’t deserve to put the name on your car.

      1. @slowmo The name probably has to stay so that the team can continue to benefit from the heritage payments that the team pretty much survived on…

    12. This is one of those things that your either run for a short time, or you run forever. It was clear that Frank’s Williams was doing the latter. This just shows that Dorilton’s Williams wants the Williams pedigree, but aren’t concerned with the legacy. There’s also no way you can remove it now without looking bad

    13. To me, as long as they keep supporting the ASF, it is a good move. The sticker wasn’t even noticeable to begin with. Naming Williams cars with S prefix would have a bigger impact.

      Not to mention the lack of tribute to Piers Courage. If he died on a Williams car (FWRC) and never got a tribute, maybe because the latter Williams Racing was a different operation, then it is only natural to happen the same with Ayrton, as it is a different operation now despite the same base.

      Besides, it is indeed past time F1 moves on from ‘Senna’. Everything that surrounds his death has become ceremonial, from the butchered Imola as a token of sacrifice, to Interlagos erasing its own homage to Pace’s memory, and to F1 content undervaluing its own countless heroes to feast on Ayrton’s imagery.

      If there is a name that never needed any help to remain alive, it was always Ayrton Senna da Silva. He won’t ever be forgotten, so there’s that.

    14. This isn’t the same Williams team that I knew growing up. Frank Williams wouldn’t allow a car to leave Grove without having the tribute to Senna on the car, he’s been gone less than 6 months and the Anerican investment firm have changed it. Won’t be long before the Williams name leaves the sport once they’ve milked it all for what its worth.

      It’s a shame what these f1 teams are becoming and with Mercedes describing themselves as a franchise the other day, we’re losing why the constructors were there in the beginning

      1. To be fair, I’ve been following F1 since 1989, and was a big fan of Williams in the era of Mansell, Prost, Senna and Hill.
        1) Never knew that the cars carried that logo in the first place
        2) It would’ve been more appropriate on McLarens: he drove for them for far more races

        1. You do understand that the remembrance logo is there because of the guilty conscience that hangs over Williams?

          Senna didn’t die in a McLaren, Senna died in a Williams car.
          The darkest day of the Williams team history.

      2. he’s been gone less than 6 months and the Anerican investment firm have changed it

        I doubt the Dorilton group is that involved in the logos that end up on the car. I would think this was a decision made by Capito.

    15. They still have “M” on the nose, in honour of Mansell, Montoya, and Maldonado

      1. Glad I didn’t miss this comment. :)

    16. I don’t have a problem with this at all. Senna was a great driver. I was watching him while he was winning championships. But he is not such a towering figure that he needs a permanent tribute on a car for all time, particularly with a team he barely drove for. He was not the only “master of Monaco”. He was not the only “best driver in history”. He was not the only driver to die in a formula 1 car. At some point remembrance has turned into hagiography, and it’s unnecessary.

      I always remember one thing that stood out about Max Moseley. He went to Roland Ratzenberger’s funeral, one of the only F1 figures to do so. His words were “somebody should”… But nobody else did. To me, this almost 30 year tribute is more of the same thing : tribute almost by demand, a media generated frenzy. Nobody is carrying tributes to Clark, or Scheckter, or even villneuve. But I fully expect plenty of pearl clutching horror in response to this from various quarters.

    17. I always have to say something unpopular so here I go. This team is not Williams. This logo has been on the car for 10 years. I don’t know why they chose to plaster it on such a visible part of tge car. I understand why fake williams decided to remove it but it would have better to just carry it elsewhere and perhaps a more low key version before deleting it altogether.

    18. The simplest answer to the question in the title is: because team ownership changed.

    19. to not inform the family beforehand does not sound sound;
      did they discuss it with the drivers ?

    20. Corporate speak for “we don’t want to waste money from our budget cap on a dead man’s guilty conscience (Frank Williams’)”.

      What really shows you Dorilton have no style whatsoever, is that the Senna family and foundation were not contacted and informed about the decision.

    21. Time to move on. Lots of dead drivers in our memories, there thr will live forever.

      But logos on the car are not really contributing much.

      How many of you even knew last years car had this logo? I didn’t.

      But i saw how Senna died, and I remember what he lived for.

    22. It is Time to move on, Senna will never be forgotton! His name is mentioned every race weekend by the comentators at some point on air, It is time:)

    23. Dropping the tribute is one thing but how it was handled if the story is accurate?
      ‘Capito said’ Capito is not a person and the issue was handled in a way that shows the cold hard face of the corporate world. No consultation no effort to explain no care of who or how it affects.

    24. Williams CEO Jost Capito translates “sempre” as ‘for thirty years’.

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