Date: 1st May 2014 at 8:37am
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Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo has paid tribute to the late great Ayrton Senna.

The three-time Formula One World Champion died 20 years ago whilst leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

The Brazilian had just moved from McLaren to Williams and was chasing a fourth world title, a feat that would have equalled his great rival Alain Prost.

Despite failing to score a point from the opening two rounds of the championship, Senna was still favourite to make a comeback and defeat the emerging talent of Benetton and Michael Schumacher.

The Williams was the class of the field after delivering back-to-back title wins for Nigel Mansell in 1992 and Alain Prost in 1993.

However according to Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo, Senna had plans to end his career with Ferrari and the two had held informal talks over the possibility just days before his death.

‘He wanted to come to Ferrari and I wanted him in the team, When he was in Italy for the San Marino Grand Prix, we met at my home in Bologna on Wednesday 27 April. He told me he really appreciated the stand we had taken against the excessive use of electronic aids for driving, which didn’t allow a driver’s skill to shine through.’ Montezemolo told Ferrari’s website as quoted by Sky Sports.

‘We spoke for a long time and he made it clear to me that he wanted to end his career at Ferrari, having come close to joining us a few years earlier. We agreed to meet again soon, so as to look at how we could overcome his contractual obligations at the time. We were both in agreement that Ferrari would be the ideal place for him to further his career, which to date had been brilliant, even unique. Unfortunately, fate robbed all of us of Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger over one of the saddest weekends in Formula 1 history.’

‘Of Senna, I remember his kindness and his simple almost shy nature, which was in complete contrast to Senna the driver, a fighter always aiming for the best,’

‘I always appreciated Ayrton’s style of racing. As with all great champions, he had an incredible will to win and never tired of seeking perfection, trying to improve all the time. He was extraordinary in qualifying, but also a great battler in the races, when he always fought tooth and nail.’

Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen both attended Thursday’s Senna memorial service at Imola.