Originally Posted on Racing Mania on September 1st, 2012
I never got to see Ayrton Senna race, I never heard of him until a few years ago. I thought to myself “Who the heck is this guy named Ayrton Senna?” So, I started researching about this “guy.” I was amazed about his skill in the car and how he loved racing in the rain. Then I started getting into the Alain Prost and Senna rivalry. I loved it so much.
Then I realized that stars such as Mario Andretti, Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Nigel Mansell were the supporting cast in growing Formujla One and its popularity to a worldwide basis other than the Prost v. Senna rivalry.
Ayrton Senna was the man that got me hooked to Formula One. When I first started to watch Formula One on a week in and week out basis in 2008; I really thought that Felipe Massa or Lewis Hamilton would turn into the next Senna for the modern day era.
When they announced that their would be a documentary film on Senna’s life; I was so stoked. Yes, I did see Dale Earnhardt’s documentary and I thought that was very well done. When the documentary first released in the United States, I really wanted to go see it but every time I tried it was always playing out of state.
The documentary was a huge success because they did release it on DVD. For about a year I was trying to find it at local Walmart’s, Target’s, Best Buy’s and many more places. All they would say is “Sorry, we don’t know what it is.” I was thinking “Okay, I’ll look online.”
It was about a month ago when I found it on iTunes. I thought “Man, I don’t want it for my iPod!” So, I looked again on Best Buy and I found it. I ordered it on a Thursday night and it came on a Monday.
Once I got it from the mailbox I threw it in the DVD player. Without further ado, here is the Senna movie review.
The Senna movie starts out with Ayrton’s karting career and how he started it out. Right away, they switched gears to his opening season with Toleman F1. The first race they showed was the 1984 Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo Street Circuit. The race was mainly led by the McLaren of Alain Prost followed by Nigel Mansell. It was heavy rain and Ayrton was slowly moving up through the field and was catching Prost at a rapid rate. Then the race was halted due to heavier rain and torrential conditions. Prost didn’t cross the line and Senna did before him. Senna was waving his arms as if he won the Grand Prix. Then Ayrton received the news that he didn’t win. He was devastated yes but he still had that smile on his face that made him famous.
The next major story-line in the movie, is Ayrton’s first World Championship win at the 1985 Portuguese Grand Prix at Estroil Circuit. Like Monaco in 1984, it was raining and Senna excelled in these conditions.
Then came 1988, the year the Senna and Prost really kicked off when they were teammates at McLaren-Honda. You could tell that Ayrton had a lot of pressure at McLaren because he was teamed up with Prost and they were the team to beat in 1988. The first story of the rivalry picked up at the 1988 Monaco Grand Prix. Ayrton had nearly a minute lead over Prost and he crashed it. Prost later said that “All he tries to do is humiliate me, and believing in God.”
Ayrton was one race away from clinching his first World Championship at the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka International Circuit. Ayrton clinched the championship over Prost. It was basically the same story in 1989 but it was Ayrton who had to win the race at Japan to keep his title chances alive against Prost. For most of that Grand Prix the McLaren-Honda’s were running 1-2 with Prost out front. It was toward the end of the race, Senna went to the inside of Prost to try and overtake him going into the Casio Triangle chicane and Prost turned down on Senna. They both went off the track and crashed. Prost was out, Senna continued on even though cutting the chicane. Prost marched up to the stewards office to argue his case and with the French FIA president, Jean-Marie Balestre we knew things wouldn’t be good. Senna went on the win the race but he got disqualified and got a six month suspension of his super-license. Then he did his famous interview with Jackie Stewart.
Jackie Stewart: Okay, let me ask you another difficult question: If I were to count back all the world champions, the number of times that they had made contact with other drivers, that you in the last 36 months or 48 months, have been in contact with more other cars and drivers than they might have done in total.
Ayrton Senna: I find (it) amazing for you to make such a question Stewart, because you are very expirienced-
Jackie Stewart: Hmm…Very.
Ayrton Senna: …And you know a lot about racing. And you should know that by being a racing driver, you are under risks all the time. By being a racing driver means you are racing with other people. And if you no longer go for a gap that exists, you’re no longer a racing driver, because we are competing. We are competing to win, and the main motivation to all of us is to compete for victory; it’s not to come 3rd, 4th, 5th or 6th.
We all knew Balestre played favorites with Prost and would kiss up to Prost any chance he had. Then we got Balestre’s retarded quote: “The best decision is my decision.”
After 1989, Senna and Prost weren’t teammates, Prost went to Ferrari to team up with Nigel Mansell. This payed diffidence for Senna a, he started off 1990 with three wins in five races and average finish of 5.6, the only thing that brought that down was his 22nd place finish at San Marino Grand Prix. Meanwhile Prost had one win and two retirements; his average finish in the first five races was 9.8.
Going into the second to last race in Japan, the roles were switched around, Prost had to win and Senna couldn’t score. Senna started on pole and he was given the dirty line (A Balestre decision which gave Prost the advantage.) Prost took of past Senna, Senna ducked to the inside and Alain gave him the line then closed the door going into the first turn complex of two right-handers. They both crashed. Prost says: “I wanted to punch him in the face.” Senna says: “He knows my driving style, he gave me it then he didn’t.” When Ayrton was asked by ESPN’s John Bisignano about being World Champion, Senna says: “It’s not a bad feeling at all, is it?”
Going into 1991, Senna looked for his third World Driver’s Championship. Just like 1990, Senna and the McLaren team started off very strong including four straight wins. The 1991 Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was storied in the documentary. This was the race that Ayrton ran in sixth gear only for about the last ten laps and won the race. After the race, Ayrton passed out. You could tell it was very stressful on him. He was screaming “DON’T TOUCH ME!” The only person that touched him was his father and he did it very lightly.
After the first four races, it really looked like it was going to be a runaway for the title. That was the case and Ayrton won his final World Championship by 24 points over Mansell. Ferrari also got rid of Prost.
In 1992, Williams created a whole new car that computerized and no one could catch them. Prost took the year off and it was bad year for Senna. Similar story for 1993 but Mansell was gone to CART and Prost won his fourth and final championship. Senna would leave McLaren after 1993, he won his final race for McLaren at Australia in the final race and this was the last time we ever saw Ayrton and Alain on the podium together.
Senna moved to Williams for ’94. He hated the car even though he had three poles but the downside to that was the three DNF’s. It was April 30th, 1994. The day for qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola. Senna sat it on pole, and then watched young countrymen, Rubens Barrichello have a vicious crash then it was the fatal death of Ronald Ratzenberger later in qualifying.
May 1st,1994. Senna and Michael Schumacher started 1-2. Senna led Schumacher, and the safety car came up after a crash on the start. They just went back to green and Ayrton’s car just veered off the road and nailed the wall. We all knew it was serious. I sunk in my chair when I saw this. Then when they announced he was dead, it was shock to the whole F1 community. It was weird watching the next race at Monaco on YouTube. It was weird because Ayrton was the king of Monaco and he wasn’t there.
There are still some days that I wish I could have saw Ayrton race live but that’s just a fact of life that we have to deal with. This documentary is a much watch especially if you are new to Formula One or a die-hard fan.
Now here some quotes by people and Ayrton himself.
John Bisignano: ”There’s only one word that describes Ayrton’s style, and that is: fast. He would take the car beyond it’s design capabilities. He would brake later, fly into these corners where the car was just over the edge, and somehow, he could dance and dance with that car, to where it stayed on track.”
Sid Watkins: [just after Ratzenburger’s death] You know Ayrton, you’ve been 3 times world champion, you’re the fastest man in the world, and you like fishing, so, why don’t you quit, and i’ll quit and we’ll just go fishing.
Ayrton Senna: Sid. I can’t quit.
Ayrton Senna: Pure driving, pure racing, that’s what makes me happy.
Ayrton Senna: If you have God on your side, everything becomes clear.
Ayrton Senna: Fear is exciting for me.
Ayrton Senna: If you no longer go for a gap that exists, you are no longer a racing driver.
Ayrton Senna: And so you touch this limit, something happens and you suddenly can go a little bit further. With your mind power, your determination, your instinct, and the experience as well, you can fly very high.
Thanks for the great memories Ayrton, thinking of you all the time when I watch Formula One.