|AFP/Xinhua file photo|
By Michael Place
SAO PAULO, May 1 (Xinhua) -- Tributes flowed from around the world on Thursday to mark 20 years since the death of legendary Formula 1 driver Ayrton Senna.
Those to pay homage to the three-time world champion included fans, former rivals and current drivers.
Senna died aged 34 when his Williams crashed during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix in the Italian city of Imola.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was among those to offer glowing praise, saying he had modeled his style on the Brazilian.
"Ayrton Senna was an incredible legend, who will be remembered and admired forever," Mercedes driver Hamilton said.
"He had the rare quality of greatness. A lot of the way I drive today is inspired by the way I saw him drive."
Frank Williams, Senna's last team boss, said the late driver could have been Brazilian president, had he ran for election.
"He had immense brain power, charm, charisma and determination," Williams said.
Senna remains a much-loved figure in Brazil, where he was idolized even by footballers, who are usually feted here on a scale far beyond other sports people.
Players of Brazilian club Corinthians paid their own quirky tribute by walking out for their Copa do Brasil match against Nacional wearing replicas of Senna's yellow and green racing helmet.
Brazil's two-time F1 world champion Emerson Fittipaldi described Senna as a man and driver without peer.
"Ayrton transcended the state of mere driver and reached a level of respect and envy that puts him on a higher plain than any of his rivals," Fittipaldi said.
Bruno Senna, Ayrton's nephew and also a former F1 driver said: "Ayrton touched so many people's lives in so many different ways - racing fans with his genius in the car, and non-racing fans with his character and charisma.
"It is sad to not have him here but we look on it as a celebration of what he has left for people."