Since I’ve spent all day up until this point panicking about my driving theory at half two – yes, I passed – this is likely to be the only post of today, but it’s a double-up post as it features two names, rather than just the usual one.
As we’re on the topic of driving, we’re going to look at two notable names from the world of F1. The first one is of Ayrton Senna, one of the most successful drivers in the sport as he won the World Championship no less than 3 times. He is also notable for being the last F1 driver to die behind the wheel, at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, aged 34.
His success also lead to a success for his own name; in 1996 the name Ayrton was in the Top 500 in England&Wales, which is the earliest year I have access to. I did, however, check with the US name charts and Ayrton has not ranked in the Top 1000 for the past 50 years, and I have yet to find reliable data about the top names in Brazil.
This does make a bit of sense, since Ayrton lived in England and got his first break in motorsport whilst over here, although as of 2010, Ayrton now hovers outside the Top 1000 by a single birth. This is how Ayrton has fared since 1996:
The recent peak in 2010 could be due to the movie about Senna, released a few months ago giving him some extra coverage, plus Top Gear also did a feature on him as well.
So what does the name Ayrton mean? Well that’s where things get tricky. There is a small town in Yorkshire named Airton, which was also known in the past as Ayrton. The village itself takes its name from the nearby River Aire, and generally speaking the meaning is taken as from the village of Aire/Ayr. It has stronger roots as a surname, for example a Margery Ayrton married at Cantebury Cathedral in 1602.
As for Senna, the maiden name of Ayrton’s mother, it was recently given to a young British royal. Lady Davina Lewis gave birth to her daughter Senna Kowhai on the 22nd June 2010. For other names of young royals, feel free to go here. Baby Senna currenty sits at #25 in the line of succession after her mother. Over the years, the name Senna has prevailed more as a female name. The first table is male usage, the second, female:
And then we have the latest name from F1, Jenson. This name is enjoying even more success than Ayrton as he’s just broken the Top 100. This is likely because, as an English driver, he gets far more coverage by the Beeb and general British press than, say, Rubens Barrichello or even Fernando Alonso.
Jenson Button entered Formula 1 in 2000, driving for the Williams team. His first win did not come until the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix whilst at Honda. It was his 113th start. Here’s how the name Jenson has fared since 1999, the year before Button entered F1:
As you can see, the name shot up from #1664 to #273 in just one year. It’s worth noting that the F1 racing season begins around March. When Jenson became the F1 World Champion in 2009 the name again leaped up the rankings.
Jenson himself was named after a friend of his father, whose surname was Jensen. The name originally means son of Johannes, and Johannes is just another form of the name John, which means Yahweh is gracious. So, in a way, Jenson was also named after his father, who is called John.
Personally, I quite like the name Jenson, and I’m not just saying that because I’m a fan of F1. It’s quirky and recognisable. At the same time, I doubt he’d work just as well outside of Buttom home country, since Button is less well known in other places.