Ayrton Senna

Today (19 August 2011) "Senna" opens in Toronto and i'm taking off early from work to catch a matinee' viewing. This is about as good a time as any to open this thread...

From Prost's thread:

This has to be said and i'll say it again here...

The director of the movie "Senna" - Asif Kapadia - was on a Motor Sport Magazine podcast with then McLaren manager Jo Ramirez (who, unusually, was a trusted friend of both Senna and Prost)...and in the podcast he said something like this:

(Paraphrasing) "We had access to all of Bernies archives...and when we looked at the video of the cars coming out of Tosa at Imola, Schumacher's Benetton was the only car which exhibited unusual signs of, *ahem*, traction control...even the other Benetton didn't have it..."

Go to the Motor Sport Magazine website and click on 'podcasts' and listen for yourselves (June 15th podcast, I think).

Why do I bring it up? Well Senna suspected Schumacher's Benetton B194 had TC/LC and was driving out of his skin to make up for the difference. He noticed that it sounded and behaved differently (to even Verstappen's B194) while he watched them circulating from the wall after retiring at Aida (the second race of the year).

I don't need to go on about it, but you get the point.

Where does Prost come into this? Well, the Podcast goes into how Senna was on the telephone with Prost during that time talking, among other things, about that precise matter.

If Senna said that Schumi's car was using a form of TC, then personally I'd believe him. Prost believed Senna too. There aren't exactly any better qualified people to know such a thing. One thing I must say, however, is that despite the fact that Senna was trying to make up the difference through his own driving to keep up with Schumacher, I don't think this had anything to do with his death, something that a few twisted people (in my opinion) seem to think. Tamburello is not a corner that should worry an F1 car, even back then.

There was no greater expert on the sights and sounds of a Formula One car at Aida that day than Senna himself...And if his expert ears and eyes noted that only Schumacher's B194 sounded and reacted like it had traction control then i'm going to believe it. Period.

As per the accident at Tamburello...well, the saftey car that day wasn't exactly a Mercedes-Benz AMG...I believe it was an Opel and, as a result, a bit 'too' slow. The tyre pressures dropped significantly and that would have affected the ride height. Tamburello had a few bumps and when they went flat out again right after the SC pulled in, there's a reasonable chance the ride height wasn't what Senna would have imagined it to be.

[Safety Cars were a newer phenomenon in Formula One back then too, by the way. They were first properly introduced the year before (1993) and used only in two Grand Prix races.

They made many rule changes after that race, including making sure Safety Cars were faster so as to ensure tyre pressures didn't fall off significantly.]

Regardless, what are CTA members' memories and thoughts of Senna?

Mine were mixed. I thought he was immense and the fastest since Villeneuve ... but a bully. I was never his biggest fan primarily because his on track tactics at times bordered on insanity. Whereas Villeneuve risked his own life mainly, Senna didn't seem to have a problem with risking other drivers' lives while he was taking chances with his own.

Having said that, i'd rate the Brazilian thus All Time:

1= Senna
1= Prost
3. Clark
4. Fangio
5. Schumacher
6= Stewart
6= Moss

What are your thoughts and memories of the man and the driver?
Senna was my favourite driver by far and so I rate him much higher than Prost. For me, in those days Prost was a manipulative driver of inferior ability who was part of an F1 establishment that seemed hell bent on getting in the way of my watching Senna go fast.
He was so much faster than anyone else it was almost unbelievable. One of my first cars was a Honda Accord with Mclaren World Champion stickers and I thought I was really cool
I liked his dark brooding demeanour and his one track mind. Also the first race I saw him live in was against Mansell, lap after lap at Monaco, what a weekend that was!
There was a huge gap after we lost him that remained unfilled for me till recently. Damon did his best though.
There was a huge gap after we lost him that remained unfilled for me till recently.

There was a similarly huge gap for me after Villeneuve was killed in the Ferrari in 1982 in Belgium...So, I can understand.

When I went to the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June of 1994, there were no "World Champions" on the grid that day.

I'm sure others have had a similar empty feeling after Jimmy Clark or Jochen Rindt or Ronnie Peterson were killed.

I wasn't a big Senna fan per se' but I was in a daze for a few days following that shunt at Imola. Even my then girlfriend noticed it. I was used to Villeneuve and then young Riccardo Paletti (on the grid in Montreal) and even de Angelis (testing) and Bellof and Winklehock (at Mosport down the road from here) being lost to us...but that Roland Ratzenberger-Ayrton Senna 1-2 in quick succession was a brand new punch, a hard 1-2...

...it wasn't nearly as hard as the Villeneuve punch...but it was a punch to the solar plexus that left me dazed none the less.

I'm going to see "Senna" in about 4 hours...I've got goose pimples as I type this. I expect it to be a deeply spiritual - even 'religious' - experience for me.
I don't think its possible to look at many drivers without acknowledging that they had dark moments at some time, although there are some rare exceptions, but certainly Senna is in that category. However, his is one name that when mentioned still brings a smile to many a face who, like me, put the more contentious incidents to one side and remember watching him race and thinking "How the [deuce] is he doing that?!?!" as he did what appeared to be the impossible.I remember the Senna/Prost and Senna/Mansell duels well, and don't mind saying that I was happy to wave the flag for 'our Nige' whenever he won or got pole, and resignedly shrugged when Senna beat him, in recognition that with equal machinery, and sometimes inferior, Senna would wipe Mansell's clock. Occasionally the villain, often the hero, never the forgotten.
Kings Of Spa (in chronological order):

Jimmy Clark
Ayrton Senna
Michael Schumacher
Kimi Raikkonen

Wins, Driver, Years
Michael Schumacher 1992, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2001, 2002

Ayrton Senna 1985, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991

Jim Clark 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
Kimi Räikkönen 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009
Do you remember when everyone hated Senna?

I remember seeing a big banner at Silverstone that read "Don't worry Nige only nuts come from Brazil" - I also remember one of the biggest cheers of the day at Silverstone 1991 was when he parked up after running out of fuel. He was that cheating Brazilian who drove far too dangerously with no regard for others drivers safety. Its funny though everyone I talk to now seems to have loved him back then in fact his 1988 title was so amazing it made a 3 years old Lewis Hamilton want to become an F1 driver. I don't remember much about when I was 3 but I now blame my Dad for not putting me in front of the 1983 F1 World Championship every other Sunday otherwise I'd have seen Piquet win and become and F1 champion myself. I guess all those people that used to boo and hate Senna just stopped watching F1 - I wonder if that'll happen with people who dislike Alonso as well?

I am being slightly harsh about it all. Senna was a great driver but he is a bit ruined for me by the church of St Senna thats happened after his death.

I'll still rank Donnington 1993 as one of the greatest drives by a driver I have ever seen.
Do you remember when everyone hated Senna?

Yes there was certainly that brigade. Not everyone hated him, though. It depended on nationality.

There was a time - when he was at Lotus - when he and Mansell were tangling regularly. Usually Mansell would come off worse and, I suppose, the English didn't like that.

I was more neutral than most but I certainly didn't like some of Senna's blocking moves.
He was pretty much the villian of F1 right up until 1993 - even then people only started cheering for him because having Prost nursemaided to the title so Renault could have their French world champion was making the sport incredibley dull.
That's what annoys me the most. His loss was terrible for F1, as any drivers loss is/was. But the blinkers blind these days. People talk like he was some kind of Saint. He most certainly was not.

No F1 driver has ever been a saint

He commanded respect and admiration in the way saints of old might have

Most of them had to be dead before actually becoming saints, right?
To become a saint you have to have performed 3 Miracles. Unfourtunatly for Senna I can only count 2.

1 - The first lap at Donnington 1993

2 - Understanding what Ron Dennis was talking about
3.) Managing to win in Brazil in 1991 despite having to drive the last nine laps with the car stuck in sixth gear and him having to hold it there most of the time as it kept jumping out. He was only 27 seconds in the lead before it happened, and fainted with the pain about 30 seconds after crossing the line. In my view, it is even more of a miracle than the Donnington race, and almost on a par with understanding Mr Dennis LOL
Do you remember when everyone hated Senna?

This was largely fuelled by the British media when Senna blocked Warwick from coming into Lotus, as Senna felt that the team was not good enough to sustain two cars to push for the WDC. He was right in a way, but the press made him look like a vicious man who was scared of Warwick.
I also remember one of the biggest cheers of the day at Silverstone 1991 was when he parked up after running out of fuel.

Hmm, some of the cheering was from two Welsh lads between Vale and Club. I was always grateful for those tickets from my brother.
Jingoistic knee-jerk is my only defence. :embarrassed:
No F1 driver has ever been a saint

He commanded respect and admiration in the way saints of old might have

Most of them had to be dead before actually becoming saints, right?

Senna did not command 'Saintly' respect and admiration. Some drivers 'feared' him because they thought he might kill them one day - or himself. Lets just agree to disagree on this one!
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