Last night I sat down with my good lady to watch the Senna documentary film. I was already aware of what he achieved and thought this would be a good way to get a fix of Formula 1 and see something behind the man.
I wasn’t prepared for such a ride!
The man was driven (excuse the pun) from such a young age. He decided that he had the skills and capability to achieve 3 World titles and didn’t settle until he had done it. The behind the scenes footage from driver briefings and meetings was insightful to say the least. When we got to the Senna-Prost battle of ’89 and ’90, I was gobsmacked but only for a while when the story of how Prost went crying to his fellow Frenchman at the head of the FIA when Senna dared to challenge him. Then, the incident in Japan caused by Prost that took both drivers off the track. As Senna weaved through the tyres to rejoin the race, hook-nosed crybaby Prost went off to complain. Result: Senna disqualified and Prost crowned champion.
Fast forward to the next year. Same race, same situation but in reverse: Prost had to beat Senna to win the title. Cue case of de-ja-vu as Prost and Senna collide. This time both cars are definitely out and Senna wins the title.
I can accept that this film is bound to show Ayrton Senna in the best possible light and brush over any controversies, but nevertheless, having been truly shafted by the authorities over the Pole Position issue, he would have been forgiven for feeling satisfied with his revenge, but still he felt uneasy about having to do it that way – he would always prefer to outrace his rivals. Indeed, during his battle with Prost at McLaren, Senna’s intention was not just to beat his team-mate, but humiliate him. And he had the skills to do it.
It says enough that Alain Prost was driven into retirement twice by Senna’s ability, the second time just to avoid being teamed up with him at Williams!
But then the film comes to it’s conclusion at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. No matter how much time has passed since, and no matter how many times the footage is shown, I was still choked up inside as the film showed what happened to first Barrichello, then Ratzenberger, and finally the great man himself.
When all is said and done, Ayrton Senna pushed the limits of what both the driver and the car could achieve, whilst being at the forefront of trying to make the sport safer for those involved. The greatest, yet most tragic legacy is that nobody has died in a Formula 1 car since that day on 1st May 1994.
For any sporting fan, this film is interesting. Hell, even my girlfriend was enthralled by it.
If I could get my name on the cover along with an endorsement, I would call it “inspiring and essential viewing” whilst giving it about 10 out of 5.
So, please, everyone, watch ‘Senna’.