Over the past two days, you may have noticed an illustration of Ayrton Senna on your Google homepage. If you did, it's because you live in Brazil, New Zealand, Russia, Kenya, Turkey Croatia, and Guatemala.
As you readers showed us this morning, those countries and several others got the Google Doodle celebrating what would have been Senna's 54th birthday. A whole bunch didn't. And that makes me kind of sad. I'm certainly not going to say that any person is entitled to a Google Doodle, but how come the Senna love didn't happen everywhere?
It almost seems random, who got the Senna Doodle and who didn't. Finland got it, but Sweden and Norway did not. Malaysia and Romania got it. Chile and Argentina did not, but Colombia had it. Even some real die-hard, F1 loving countries like Germany, France and the United Kingdom didn't get it. How do you explain that?
And guess what? My home country, the United States, didn't get it, but our neighbors and NAFTA pals Canada and Mexico both did. (Canada had it in both languages!)
Don't get me wrong. The fact that Google thought to give one of the most legendary F1 drivers who ever lived a tribute at all is a really gesture. I just wish it could have gone everywhere.
I think Senna deserved one, is all. The Google Doodles, an artistic rendering of the typical logo with a clickable link to whatever they're about, have a history of highlighting interesting and important but maybe not obvious or extremely well-known figures. People like Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov; existentialist writer and actvist Simone de Beauvoir; and computer scientist and U.S. Navy admiral Grace Hopper are a few examples.
So why not Ayrton Senna, too? I realize there are parts of the world, the U.S. included, where large segments of the population couldn't care less about F1 if they tried.
But Senna wasn't an ordinary racing driver. A three-time world champion, his well of natural talent, incredible skills at the limit, and hyper-aggressive driving style makes him rank among the greatest drivers in F1 history, and maybe even THE greatest driver, according to a lot of people.
And Senna was more than just a guy famous for driving — and by "driving," I mean stunning, flat out battles with rivals like Alain Prost during what some consider to be the golden age of modern F1. During his career he rose to national hero status in his native Brazil, becoming one of the few points of pride for a country hammered by poverty and corruption.
He was a devoted humanitarian and devout Catholic, too, the kind who actually lived his faith. As per his wishes, his family established the Instituto Ayrton Senna in his honor, which has done a considerable amount of good for young people in Brazil.
Today, he remains one of the most recognizable names and faces in the world of F1. Asif Kapadia's brilliant documentary about his life, Senna, not only serves to memorialize his career but also serves as a gateway drug to the sport for a lot of people. Want someone to watch a race with you? Show them that movie. Then they'll get it.
We're coming up on 20 years since Senna was killed in the tragic crash at Imola. That's likely why we've been talking about him so much lately. That sad anniversary is a little more than a month away. I feel like Senna's birthday would have been a nice way to honor his life worldwide.
Last, but not least, here's a list of other, non-Senna-y things that got their own Google Doodles:
- The start of spring. Bullshit, Google, it's still freezing where I am.
- Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary. That dude isn't even REAL.
- Earth Day. Oh, COME ON.
- Mark Twain's 176th Birthday. If Mark Twain were alive in the modern era, he would have been an F1 driver. Everyone knows that.
So yeah. It's painfully obvious the Ayrton Senna Google Doodle should have been a thing everywhere. Few in the world of racing deserve it more.