Why do Williams F1 cars carry a logo of Ayrton Senna?

Jake Nichol November 29, 2021
Why do Williams F1 cars carry a logo of Ayrton Senna?
Photo by Xavier Bonilla/NurPhoto via Getty Images


If you look closely at the nose of a Williams Formula One car you’ll spot a ‘Senna S’ logo, but why does the team carry it on its racing cars?

For years, Ayrton Senna tried everything he could to get behind the wheel of one of the late Sir Frank Williams’ eponymous racing cars.

Senna was the best driver on the planet and wanted the best equipment – which in the early 1990s was increasingly a Williams.

Senna’s McLaren team was the benchmark, but the team from Didcot was coming fast. Nigel Mansell trounced Senna in 1992 to take the Brazilian’s world title.

For 1993, the three best racing drivers in the world all wanted to fit into two Williams seats. Obviously that wouldn’t work, so F1 champion Mansell went off to IndyCar, Senna stayed at McLaren, reluctantly, and Alain Prost returned from sabbatical.

The Frenchman even blocked Senna as a 1993 teammate because of their troubled history together.

But for 1994, Senna was off to Williams, which turned out to be an all-too-short alliance.

Since 1995, all Williams cars have carried a ‘Senna S’ logo on the nose, but why?

Photo by Pascal Rondeau/Allsport/Getty Images

Williams Senna logo explained

It was Frank Williams who gave a young Ayrton Senna da Silva his maiden F1 test in 1983.

It would take 11 years but finally, in 1994, they got to work together. In the eyes of many, Williams were going to romp to the championship.

However, Senna failed to finish in Brazil or at Aida in Japan after spins and contact. He went to Imola for round three of the 16-race calendar on zero points, while young upstart Michael Schumacher had the maximum 20.

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On Lap 7 at Imola, Senna was killed when his FW16 crashed heavily at Tamburello – then a fast-left hander.

In tribute to the fallen Brazilian, starting with the 1995 FW17 machine, Williams has carried the ‘Senna S’ logo on its cars since.

For 2014, the design underwent changes to reflect 20 years since Senna’s death before reverting to the classic design.

Senna’s nephew races for the team in 2012

In the 2012 season Williams signed Ayrton’s nephew, Bruno, to a race seat.

Bruno first raced in F1 in 2010. Good race pace was hindered by an inability to master the tricky Pirelli rubber in qualifying, leaving results sparse.

In round two in Malaysia, Bruno Senna finished sixth – his best result of the campaign.

His most memorable moment came in the Brazil finale. Senna clouted Sebastian Vettel on the opening lap of the title decider – spinning the German to last.

The Red Bull driver would recover, however, to take his third world title.

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.