Senna: The Movie

I have just finished watching the Senna Movie, which I found on Netflix last night. A lot of people I know either personally or throughout the websphere have raved about the movie and after watching the documentary style movie, I can understand why, brilliant insight into Ayrton Senna and Formula 1 as it was through the late 80s/early 90s under FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre.

The documovie covered everything from his early karting days right through to his tragic death on May 1st 1994 at Imola, aged 34 and I was engrossed for the entire documovie. I was 17 when Senna was killed and had only just discovered F1 a few years earlier so didn’t know the full story behind what many consider to be the greatest racing driver ever. I’m not easily shocked but the deaths of Austrian Roland Ratzenberger on Saturday and Brazilian Senna on Sunday shocked me like the rest of the motorsport world, it’s a weekend I will remember for the rest of my life.

Things I didn’t know was how corrupt FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre was; the French conspiracy between Alain Prost and Balestre to rob Ayrton Senna of what would have been his second world title, excluding Senna for using the run off area to continue after Prost turned in on the Brazilian going into the final chicane at Suzuka 1989. The very next year, Senna got his revenge by basically doing the same thing to Prost after being screwed by Balestre again, then FIA president switched pole position to the dirty side of the track to give second placed starter Alain Prost the side with more grip. The bitter rivals collided again giving Senna his second world title. Senna claimed his third and final title in 1991 in a year in which the Brazilian dominated!

Now we move to a time I remember better, but the movie showed more I didn’t know! 1992 and 1993 were Williams years with their active suspension and other gadgetry that made the Williams the far and away leader, Senna could do nothing but stare at the back of the Williams, driven by world champions in those years, Nigel Mansell and Prost respectively, these two seasons meant Senna’s departure from McLaren and the fateful move to Williams for the 1994 season. A season where electronic aids were banned, but Senna believed that Benetton were still using traction control on Schumacher’s car, Senna wanted Frank Williams to protest, Williams didn’t agree and the accusation went uninvestigated, recently Jos Verstappen has made the same claims.

Finally it covered the deaths of Ratzenberger and Senna which is still as poignant and distressing as it was back in 1994. I can’t say I was ever a fan of Senna, I was a fan of Nigel Mansell and Damon Hill through the first few years of my F1 following, but watching this movie made me realise just what a great talent the Brazilian really was, a career cut short by tragedy!

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