Ayrton Senna

 

Chapter:  AYRTON SENNA – THE
LEGEND (from ‘The Grand Prize”)

“The characters seem to represent the virtues and the
resilience of the little people, a story (or stories) to which we can all
relate. In essence it’s about hope and faith: a tale (and tales) of the
unquenchable spirit of tenacity in battling on, no matter what are our
circumstances. And then eventually finding a way, a pathway to overcome
personal adversity and to ultimately succeed in glorious triumph.”

 

– anon

 

From: http://www.femail.com.au/senna.htm

 

Monday, 31 October 2011

 

Senna, The Film

Cast: Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Frank Williams

Director: Asif Kapadia

Genre: Documentary, Biography, Sport

 

Synopsis: It was June 1984, a Sunday at the Monaco Grand Prix. As
the heavens unleashed a torrential downpour, one of the greatest line-ups in
motor racing history took to the track. No fewer than six current or future
World Champions vied for the race that day, including recent World Champion
Keke Rosberg; a stoic, fearless Englishman called Nigel Mansell; Austrian
double World Champion Niki Lauda; the flamboyant double World Champion Nelson
Piquet; and the man dubbed ‘The Professor’, Frenchman Alain Prost, who was on
the cusp of being regarded by many at the time as the most complete driver
ever. In 13th position on the grid meanwhile, attracting little interest in his
un-fancied Toleman car, was a wiry, fiery young driver in just his sixth
Formula 1 race.

 

As the engines fired and the drivers tore through the city
streets, the man that started in 13th place ripped through the field,
demonstrating virtuoso technique and jaw-dropping courage as he passed every
car in front of him, taking Prost on line of the 32nd lap. That man was Ayrton
Senna, announcing his arrival to the world of F1 with a spectacular drive.

 

As it transpired, Ayrton Senna did not win the race; he lost out
on a technicality and the first-place passed to Alain Prost. At the time Ayrton
Senna was not bitter, it was still his first podium finish, although what
happened that day would set the tone for the young Brazilian’s future career.
He would frequently win on the track, but would find himself defeated off the
track, struggling against what he perceived as injustices in a highly
politicised sport. Still, he overcame obstacles placed in his path, won three
World Championships – his years at McLaren forging a fierce rivalry with team
member and rival Alain Prost – and achieved superstar status across the globe.
With the international press he proved a charming and dashing champion; to his
native Brazilian media he was a humble and deeply religious man.

 

At the peak of his powers however, while tackling the Imola track
in San Marino, disaster struck. It was the third race of the 1994 season and
during qualifying Ayrton Senna’s protege Rubens Barrichello crashed and hurt
himself. A day later Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger slammed into a wall at
200mph, dying instantly. Ayrton Senna was shaken and wondered whether to
continue racing. His great friend and F1 doctor Professor Sid Watkins advised
Ayrton Senna not to race on the Sunday. But Ayrton Senna’s pride, his sense of
responsibility to his team and sport, and his absolute need to conquer his
fear, propelled him on.

 

On the Sunday of the race, Ayrton Senna managed just two laps
after the safety car pitted, before crashing on the high-speed Tamburello
corner, his car hitting a concrete wall at more than 130mph. In 1987, Nelson
Piquet had crashed at the same corner and emerged with a mild concussion; in
1989 Gerhard Berger came off at Tamburello and exploded in a ball of flames. He
was hurt but survived. In 1994, when Ayrton Senna crashed, his car hit the wall
at such an angle that part of the suspension flew back and punctured his
helmet, causing fatal skull fractures. Medics found an Austrian flag in his car:
he had planned to honour Roland Ratzenberger when he finished the race.

 

Ayrton Senna’s remarkable story, charting his physical and
spiritual achievements on the track and off, his quest for perfection, and the
mythical status he has since attained, is the subject of Ayrton Senna, a
documentary feature that spans the racing legend’s years as an F1 driver, from
his opening season in 1984 to his untimely death a decade later. Far more than
a film for F1 fans, Ayrton Senna unfolds a remarkable story in a remarkable
manner, eschewing many standard documentary techniques in favour of a more
cinematic approach that makes full use of astounding footage, much of which is
drawn from F1 archives and is previously unseen.

 

Ayrton Senna is made with the full co-operation of Ayrton Senna’s
family, who have given permission for this to be the first documentary feature
film about his life; Formula One, who gave permission to use previously unseen
footage; and the Ayrton Senna Institute, the charitable foundation established
after his death, which provides educational opportunities to millions of
deprived Brazilian children.

 

Senna: The Beginnings

 

Producer James Gay-Rees had been inspired by stories his father
told of Ayrton Senna from a young age when he was working for John Player
Special, the tobacco company that sponsored Ayrton Senna’s black Lotus in 1985,
and got to know him. “My dad would come back from these various races and
say that there was something really ‘other’ about this young guy. ‘He was very
unusual. He was not like the other young motor racing drivers. He was very sure
of himself. He’d got very strong beliefs. He was very different and very
intense.’ And so began his journey towards making a documentary on the
legendary racing driver.

 

A pivotal date on this journey was March 2006, when Gay-Rees and
writer and executive producer Manish Pandey had finally secured a meeting with
Ayrton Senna’s family to bid for permission to make a film about their son.
“My wife told me not to cry, because I get quite emotional, especially if
I’m passionate about something, like I am with this project,” Manish
Pandey begins. “She said to me, ‘You have got to be very professional, or
they will think you are an idiot!'” Taking these sage notes on board,
Manish Pandey ran through his 40-minute presentation, a mixture of sounds,
footage and stills, while keeping himself together. “Thankfully, I didn’t
cry, but everyone else in the room did,” he smiles. “For 40 minutes,
Ayrton Senna’s sister, Viviane Senna, and the rest of the family, were just
crying their eyes out. At the end, Viviane Senna stood up and gave me a hug and
whispered in my ear, ‘You really knew my brother.’ We had never met, but I
think she got what we were trying to do.”

 

Buoyed by their successful pitch, they returned to the UK.
“It was unbelievable. The only other feature project they had approved was
a $100 million Antonio Banderas film in 1995, which never happened.” And
yet with Manish Pandey and Gay-Rees, it was different. “The Senna family
got in touch and said, ‘We really want to do it with you and James. We just
loved what you brought to this and we think it is going to work.’ It took us
two years to do the deal with them; but while I think other people who pitched
to the Sennas would dress it all up, the family could see that their projects
would be just about the death of Ayrton Senna. We said from the outset that
this would not be the case with our film.”

 

The filmmakers’ pitch had won over the family. “It’s all
about trust,” offers Gay-Rees, “and making sure that everyone knows
you are going to do the right thing.” That right thing was showcased in
the presentation Manish Pandey delivered to the family, which was entitled ‘The
Life And Death of Ayrton Senna’. The producers did not want to focus solely on
Ayrton Senna’s tragic death; they wanted to explore his extraordinary,
multi-faceted life. Ayrton Senna’s story is no rags-to-riches tale – he was
born into an affluent family in Sao Paulo – but it is a dazzling tale, marked
by his singular approach to life, his genius behind the wheel, and his own
deeply entrenched spiritual beliefs.

 

“It is this spiritual thing that grabs a lot of people,”
continues Gay-Rees, “because great sportsmen do operate in a zone that is
slightly above that of mere mortals, and it is almost like they are channelling
something when they are at the peak of their power.”

 

Manish Pandey agrees, recalling that race at Monaco in 1984 in the
teeming rain, where Ayrton Senna drove such a staggering race. “In that
car he should have been going like a skateboard around a bath. But what he did
that day was just extraordinary, and it was the spiritual side of him coming
through. It felt as though he wasn’t actually driving on a track. When he was
driving, he was on some very spiritual plane.

 

“For Ayrton Senna it was not just about winning the race and
getting a few steps ahead. He was trying to take himself and the car to a place
that he could only really understand. I think Roger Federer said this three
years ago; he had just blasted someone off the court and had said when he was
playing that game he was ‘outside himself’; it was as if he was watching
himself play. I think Ayrton Senna reached those zones very, very regularly.
That’s why he did it.” Ayrton Senna’s drive, allied to his intense skill,
makes him an engaging subject.

 

Telling the Story

 

For producer Eric Fellner, co-chairman of Working, Senna proved a
true labour of love and added a new dimension to the company by being the first
documentary it would make.

 

“I used to be a fan like a lot of people and then lapsed, but
from this period in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s, I was absolutely fascinated and
intrigued by Formula One,” he says. “We had tried to develop a film
about Hesketh and we spent a lot of time and money on it, but couldn’t make it
work. I just really wanted to make a film about that world and had met with
Bernie Ecclestone to try to find to find a way in and couldn’t. We have never
done a documentary before, but this seemed the best medium to make a film about
Formula One.

 

When the producers brought director Asif Kapadia on board, they
knew they were hiring a talented filmmaker. The director of BAFTA winning
feature ‘The Warrior’ and the thriller ‘Far North’, Asif Kapadia is a graduate
of the Royal College of Art, and has an eye for exquisite composition.

 

“The most obvious way to tell a Senna story is to do ‘Three
days in Imola’, the race where Ayrton Senna died, and that would have been a
compelling movie, but a pretty obvious movie,” Manish Pandey says.
“You would do Friday, Saturday and Sunday and would probably flash back to
establish why the character is there. You would do it with cut-in interviews
and you would definitely have a very powerful film; but maybe a film that
misses the point of him. And that’s when Asif Kapadia walked in. We interviewed
a lot of directors for this. There was a lot of interest to do this, but when
he walked in he got it.”

 

Asif Kapadia, while a sports fan, was not an F1 enthusiast and
proved to have a completely dispassionate approach to the producers’ subject
matter. “Before the film I had never read a book on Ayrton Senna, never
looked at one website and never read a book on Formula One,” begins the
director. “I had never been to a race. So that’s where I came in to it. I
felt very much the outsider at the beginning of the process. What I find
exciting is the journey, learning about the subject through the research and
interviews. Having a fresh set of eyes on the material.

 

“I could see that Ayrton Senna was an amazing driver and had
this deep spiritual side, which was really fascinating, and it became all about
paring the film down to the bare minimum – so that somebody who doesn’t like
Formula One, or a person who has never heard of Ayrton Senna, will get the
film, understand the character and actually be moved by his story.” He
smiles. “It’s all about the character; we were trying to make a film about
racing. I was directing a feature film with non professional actors.”

*

 

Asif Kapadia points to Ayrton Senna’s rivalry with Alain Prost,
and his struggle against the racing authorities. “I am never really
interested in people who are just ‘the good guys’,” continues the
director. “There’s always something about Ayrton Senna that is a bit grey,
there’s something about him also that I noticed when we started to spend more
time researching the film; the outsider coming in. In my films there’s always
something about outsiders and I can see a relevance here of ‘the outsider from
Brazil’. Even though he is not a poor kid, he is coming into the European
world, taking on the dominant drivers and administration that seemed to favour
Alain Prost.”

 

In 1988, Ayrton Senna joined his French adversary at McLaren;
Alain Prost was the reigning World Champion and the two became fierce
competitors. “If Ayrton Senna thinks he can just walk into Alain Prost’s
team and become champion,” Keke Rosberg, whom Prost had destroyed in 1986,
said at the time, “he has a shock coming.” As it turned out, it was
Alain Prost that had the shock. At the start of the 1988 season, commentators
reckoned that while Ayrton Senna would regularly be the fastest driver, Alain
Prost would win the title, and the early season results suggested their
predictions would come true. At Monaco once more, however, four years after his
dazzling drive in the rain, Ayrton Senna went 1.5 seconds faster than Alain
Prost in qualifying, a vast margin in F1, and at a subsequent press conference
bared his soul to the world’s media.

 

“Suddenly,
I realised that I was no longer driving the car consciously,” said Ayrton
Senna at the time. “I was in a different dimension. It was like I was in a
tunnel. I was way over the limit, but I was still able to find more.” His
words conveyed just how he considered the driving experience being so close to
the edge: it was a spiritual journey
. And yet Ayrton Senna was still
fallible and he lost the Monaco race.

 

Going into the Japanese Grand Prix in 1988, Alain Prost and Ayrton
Senna were still battling for the championship and if Ayrton Senna won that
race, he would win the championship. As the lights turned green, however,
Ayrton Senna’s engine stalled and 13 cars, including Alain Prost’s sped by.
Once his car finally moved off, Ayrton Senna drove like a man possessed,
scything through the field with a series of audacious, wondrous manoeuvres
until only Alain Prost remained in front. Ayrton Senna hounded him lap after
lap and as the heavens opened once more, he sped by. He was World Champion, and
had beaten Alain Prost in a McLaren car specifically designed for the French driver.

 

The following season things heated up. Ayrton Senna appeared at
the start of the 1989 season in high spirits with his superstar girlfriend Xuxa
Menehgel, and at the Japan circuit, the Brazilian driver arrived for the
penultimate race of the season, needing to win the race to keep his 1989
championship hopes alive. Ayrton Senna watched from pole position as Alain
Prost sped by, but hounded his rival for lap after lap. So long as Alain Prost
finished the race ahead of Ayrton Senna, the Frenchman would win the title.
Ayrton Senna spotted the point on the track where he could overtake Alain
Prost, a blind left-hander, but the latter drove a clever line, keeping Ayrton
Senna at bay. Then, on lap 46, Ayrton Senna made his move. The two cars entered
the turn at 160mph and Ayrton Senna lunged down the inside as they both slowed
for the chicane. But then, as they crawled around the corner, Prost coolly
turned in on Ayrton Senna as the latter made his move, nudging his car and
causing them both to crash out.

 

Ayrton Senna raised his hands in disgust. Alain Prost climbed out
of his car knowing that he had won the championship. Ayrton Senna, however, was
not done. He urged the Japanese marshals to push start his car and he rattled
into the pits for a new wing, and then went on to take the chequered flag
against all odds. But then, just moments before he was due to take his place on
the podium, Jean Marie Balestre, the French head of F1’s governing body,
declared a technical infringement, stripping Senna of victory. Alain Prost was
declared champion and Ayrton Senna was suspended. The Brazilian regarded this
as a terrible injustice.

 

“His story is amazing and we have this great three-act
structure to work with,” says Asif Kapadia. “You have his rise, his
success, and then the challenges he faces when he gets to the top. There is the
‘comedy bad guy’, Balestre, the rival with four world titles, Alain Prost, and
then there’s Ayrton Senna’s personal side, his family, his girlfriends, the
relationship he has with Brazil, and there’s tension, drama, tragedy. It is
absolutely what films should be, and it is all real.”

*

 

The story took yet another turn in the 1990 season. At the Japan
circuit, the roles were reversed from the previous year. As long as Ayrton
Senna finished ahead of Alain Prost, he would be crowned champion. Ayrton Senna
had pole position although knew that the second place on the grid was actually
a better starting point, as it was the cleaner side of the track. He raised the
point with officials who agreed to swap the positions over and Ayrton Senna
took pole position in qualifying. Before the race, however, Ayrton Senna was
convinced that Balestre had reversed the decision and Ayrton Senna had to start
from the dirtier side of the track. The driver was incensed and 11 seconds into
the race, on the first turn of the circuit, Ayrton Senna barrelled into Alain
Prost at 150mph, causing both men to spin off. This time it was Ayrton Senna’s
turn to walk away safe in the knowledge that he had won the title.

 

“If you had written this story as fiction, you would say that
it is a clever piece of writing,” smiles the director. “One year
Alain Prost crashes into Ayrton Senna at the slowest point of the track, in
such a way that his own car was not even damaged. The following year, Ayrton
Senna crashes into Alain Prost at one of the fastest points of the track,
saying, ‘I don’t care what happens, I am going for it.’ It is very interesting
how you are what you do and Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost’s characters are
revealed by these two accidents.”

 

Balestre was livid, but could not punish Ayrton Senna, because
there was no proof that he had caused the accident intentionally. The F1
community, however, censured Ayrton Senna, complaining about his high-speed
manoeuvre and many drivers claimed that Ayrton Senna’s ‘dark side’ was a true
reflection of his personality. Alain Prost even claimed that Ayrton Senna’s
faith in God made him a dangerous driver. It was a stinging attack that
simplified Ayrton Senna’s spirituality, but the Brazilian kept his own counsel.

 

“I think Ayrton Senna was shades of grey,” offers
Pandey. “He was not purely white. When he took Alain Prost off at 150mph,
Ayrton Senna could have waited until the end of the lap and done him on the
same chicane that Alain Prost had done him, at a slow and safe speed. But
that’s why I love him: because it is not cold blooded. It is so hot blooded
with him, always. Everyone has kicked a dustbin or slammed a door at some point
in their life. Well, that is how they kicked dustbins, and slam the doors, in
these sports. Some might call the film a partisan treatment, but this film is
not ‘Ayrton, Alain, Nigel and Nelson’. This film is Ayrton Senna.”

 

Indeed, with his remarkable rise, his crowning achievements as
World Champion – he is widely perceived as the finest racer ever to sit behind
the wheel of an F1 car – his battle with Alain Prost and Balestre and then his
own untimely death, Ayrton Senna is a remarkable story. “We set up our
character, we had ascendancy and then we had a turning point, which is him
winning the championship,” explains Manish Pandey, “and you think the
film is over, but then you realise that politics come into it. And then for the
next act, the whole of the second act is Ayrton Senna overcoming; no matter what
you achieve, it comes and hits you back in the face. And that is life.”

 

*

 

Just as Ayrton Senna reached the top, the technology in cars
changed and the 1992 and 1993 titles went to Williams-Renault cars driven by
Mansell and Alain Prost. In 1994, however, with Alain Prost and Mansell no
longer racing in F1, Ayrton Senna secured the Williams drive and people
predicted the easiest championship ever. But a young driver called Michael
Schumacher had arrived on the scene in a Benetton car that seemed to have an
unfair advantage.

 

“And then the third act is pivotal; because just when Ayrton
Senna has overcome everything, he finally comes up against the thing he can’t
do, which is this modern world,” offers Manish Pandey. “It really is
the death of the hero by machine. There is a car out there that hasn’t had the
same restrictions and it is cheating… and you know he is outraged. Ayrton
Senna knows by this time his sense of fairness and justice is going to be
outraged, but there’s nothing he can do. He will never share that injustice
publicly with the press, because he understands that he will always lose. He
was a very shrewd man.”

 

Gay-Rees concludes: “The great thing about this movie is the
structure. You could not ask for a better structure. The rise and fall.
Ultimately, it is the only possible outcome you could have.”

 

The Vision for Senna

 

An aspect particular to this documentary is the fact there are no
talking heads. Many interviews were conducted, but they run over the footage in
voice-over form rather than being seen. Eric Fellner recalls that Asif Kapadia
had always resisted the idea of the audience seeing the subjects and to his
credit stuck to his guns.

 

“I think it gives it a slightly unique feel, because most
documentaries don’t have that. Yes, we had to cheat with some voice over; but
you never cut away from the period and you get a lot of Ayrton Senna,”
Eric Fellner smiles. “You feel like Ayrton Senna is telling you the story
all the way through and that was Asif Kapadia’s big thing and I think that helps
the thrust a lot.”

 

Asif Kapadia explains: “Early on, Manish Pandey and I cut a
ten minute short just from some YouTube footage and even from doing that we
knew that this approach would work. I knew there was a brilliant film here,
with a very powerful ending, very shocking and moving and a tragic ending. And
then you have got his journey and then his rivalry, a beginning a middle and an
end. What do we need talking heads for?

 

The interviews with other drivers – despite his rivalry with
Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost was a pallbearer at the funeral and gave the
film-makers generous amounts of time – and commentators on the sport, along
with the family, play out over the carefully selected footage.

 

“Everyone that we interviewed was brilliant and lovely; but
you look at the material, and it is Ayrton Senna’s passion and tension that
shines through,” Asif Kapadia continues. “It wasn’t easy to persuade
people to drop the talking heads, it’s the starting point for many documentary
films,” he laughs. “I must say, there were a lot of very experienced
people who were involved in the film and that was a difficult argument, but my
gut was always saying we should just let the images do the work. The more I
looked at the footage, the more I realised that it tells you the story.”

 

Eric Fellner laughs, “I was on Asif Kapadia Eriall the time
saying, ‘When We Were Kings, When We Were Kings.'” The famous 1996
documentary telling the story of the Rumble in the Jungle fight between Ali and
Foreman featured a fantastic performance by Norman Mahler at the opening, which
drew those unfamiliar with boxing into the story. Eric Fellner wanted something
similar with Ayrton Senna. “But Asif Kapadia resisted and I think he was
right. The footage and the way it is put together in the film is fantastic.”

 

Within three weeks of meeting with Ayrton Senna’s family, Manish
Pandey and James Gay-Rees were sitting in front of F1 head honcho Bernie
Ecclestone. Even at the outset, when the film-makers originally planned to
inter-cut their footage with talking head interviews, they would need access to
the F1 archive at Biggin Hill, which would require Bernie Ecclestone’s
assistance. Bernie Ecclestone owns every image shot on camera at a F1 meeting
during the period covered in the film.

 

“Our first meeting at Bernie Ecclestone’s office saw Bernie
Ecclestone come in and he didn’t even sit for the meeting,” recalls Manish
Pandey. “His lawyer beat us up for forty minutes, and then he stood for a
17-minute meeting, told us that he thought the project was great, shook hands
and we knew we had the deal. Then it was a question of paperwork, which took 18
months. But we got the deal. Bernie Ecclestone just grinned and said, ‘Give us
all you can and we will see what we can do.'”

 

The filmmakers’ access to the F1 archive was unprecedented.
“Thanks to Bernie Ecclestone, we got unlimited access to everything,”
says Eric Fellner. And so the monumental task began of patiently looking
through all the material. “We said that we should go back to the original
material and keep looking, keep looking, do all of our research, sift through
hours and hours of material,” explains Asif Kapadia, “because I don’t
know the story inside out and I am looking at it with a fresh eye, as an
outsider to the material and, saying, ‘Well, this is really interesting, even
though it is not in any of the books’ and, ‘This is in every book, and actually
it is not that great’.”

 

With such a wealth of footage at their disposal, the film-makers
could afford to be highly selective. Asif Kapadia cites a famous lap at Donington
Park at the 1993 European Grand Prix. “It is amazing when you look at his
driving how he wins in such an inferior car,” he says, “but it is
grey, it is pissing down with rain and no one is there. The camera work is
awful too, even though they are driving at 190mph, it all looks so slow; so I
chose not to make it a key sequence in the film. Visually, it was not good
enough.”

 

And yet there are other moments, away from the track that proved
absolutely riveting, including footage of the drivers’ briefings, and a
particularly feisty episode involving Ayrton Senna and Balestre. “To me,
with those drivers’ meetings, it felt like having a Ken Loach dialogue scene in
the middle of an action film, where people are having an argument in a room
about something complex and you just follow them. It is just real and that was
the bottom line, that whatever happens, it is real.”

 

“Some of the footage we use is from YouTube, we have super 8
footage and some of it was shot on 35mm. That’s the range of our movie. For me
it was always going to be a mosaic that we all put together. You look up close
and you aren’t sure what you see, our film will never look technically perfect.
You take a step back and it is beautiful, like a piece of Gaudi architecture. I
always approached it as a fiction film, a film with real life drama, real
people . Documentaries are constructed, they have always used fictional
techniques. Fiction films try all the time to be real. I wanted to find a new
space or genre somewhere in the middle.”

*

 

As the movie progresses chronologically, the TV coverage of the
races is noticeably more complex and sophisticated. During the 1980s, Western
governments imposed stricter laws on tobacco advertising and F1 received a
massive injection of cash, as the tobacco manufacturers poured billions into
sponsorship deals with the leading teams. As a result, the number of cameras
increased, and the quality of the camerawork improved.

 

Eric Fellner explains, “With the basic races that have been
televised, what we tried to do was to find angles. It sounds a bit nerdy, but
we always tried to find the angle that hadn’t been broadcast. And then a lot of
the stuff in the garage with Ayrton Senna, and the brilliant sequences of the
drivers’ conferences, no one has ever seen that. Fantastic.”

 

“By Imola at the end of the movie,” Asif Kapadia
explains, “Ayrton Senna has pretty much got 40 cameras on him everywhere
he goes, so it became like cutting a drama. We could literally have a mid shot,
a reverse, a two-shot profile and a high-angled helicopter shot if we
wanted.”

 

When recalling their rare footage, both Eric Fellner and James
Gay-Rees cite a moment that captures Ayrton Senna in the garage at Imola, the
weekend leading up to his fatal crash. “It is amazing,” says Eric
Fellner, “in the garage he is being shot from multiple angles and we were
actually able, in real time, to cut from one angle to another. There are very
few documentaries where you ever find that kind of coverage, which allows the
viewer to feel like they are watching a film, because the events are unfolding
in a filmic way.” James Gay-Rees agrees. “The stuff that I think is
pretty incredible is him in the garage on the last weekend, when he gets more
and more freaked out about what is going on. That’s pretty sensational.”

 

Along with the footage from the F1 archive, the filmmakers could
employ the wealth of material recorded by Brazilian television. “It was
following his every move from very early on, and he knew he needed his press to
become successful,” says Asif Kapadia, who also used early footage
supplied by the family, along with several scenes from Brazilian TV channels.

 

“It is something that made this film ‘do-able’ the way we
have done it,” concludes the director. “Very few people in the world
have an amazing talent; but on top of that, everywhere Ayrton Senna went
someone was filming him. He became huge in Japan, and the Japanese loved their
cameras, so there was always someone, somewhere. And then with F1, we got lucky
that these amazing French cameramen were working at the time – most of the good
camera work was shot by them – and they just happened to have a great
eye.”

 

The spectre of Imola, of course, looms through the latter stages
of the film, and the interviews and footage that relate to the story of Ayrton
Senna’s tragic demise are very poignant. As the film shows, Ayrton Senna became
increasingly concerned about his safety and his own sense of foreboding comes
through. “Unfortunately, there was loads and loads of really good footage
that we couldn’t put in the movie,” says James Gay-Rees. “For
example, we have footage of Ayrton Senna standing at the corner at Imola a
month before he died, during testing, and he is saying, ‘Somebody is going to
die at this corner this year.’ But the point remains that people do like
tragedy, under the right circumstances.”

 

Ayrton Senna’s story is an undeniably tragic tale, but such was
his passion, tenacity and own God-granted self-assurance, it is also punctured
with light. “He was a real superstar,” concludes Asif Kapadia,
“and he was clever enough to know this long before other sportsmen. He had
his own logo, own theme tune, and own skyscraper. This was a quietly
interesting guy, who knew how to have an image as a sportsman and to put that
image to good use. It is only recently that Rodger Federer and Ronaldo have
become brands. Ayrton Senna was doing it back in the 1980s. The man was a sensation
and his story is just gripping.”

 

From: http://www.femail.com.au/senna.htm

 

 

 

 

 

Ayrton, we can no longer  see your brilliance, your light tragically
distinguished far too soon …

 

but you have now reached the highest podium there is.

 

The submitter is currently “working” on two books

‘The Grand Prize’ (already
available at
http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GGMAW4)

 

and

 

God and
Formula One: Beyond the Zone’ (
and what he has written
to date
 is available at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005Z6BFX0

 

Craig’s motor racing blogs are at grandprixchampion.wordpress.com

grandprixdrivermyblog.wordpress.com and http://godandformula1.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SENNA IN THE ZONE

“Suddenly, I realised that I was no longer driving the car
consciously,” said Ayrton Senna at the time. “I was in a different
dimension. It was like I was in a tunnel. I was way over the limit, but I was
still able to find more.” His words conveyed just how he considered the
driving experience being so close to the edge: it was a spiritual journey

“The Zone could simply be a
gateway to the divine, one of God’s methods of reminding us of His – and our –
glorious power. Omnipresence means that power must be everywhere, everytime.
Including the racetracks. Including today.”

“The untapped potential in every human being is limitless: we
are perfectly capable of producing, all by ourselves, true magic.”

– powerful and inspirational
words from Clyde Brolin writing in Overdrive; Formula One in the Zone

 

www.overdrivef1.com

 

“The untapped
potential in every human being is limitless: we are perfectly capable of
producing, all by ourselves, true magic.”

 

– Clyde Brolin writing in Overdrive: Formula One in the Zone

 

www.overdrivef1.com

 

 

 

* * EPILOGUE

 

 

 

THE GRAND PRIX CHAMPION

 

 

 

The Grand Prix driver crossed the finishing line beneath the
colourful banner stretching across the width of the oil and rubber smeared
tarmac below to win the Monaco Grand Prix in the year that was 2009. Exhausted
(both mentally and physically) and saturated with sweat, the champion driver
raised his arms, in celebration, glorious triumph, knowing that he had driven
his last.. and the best ever race in his long and illustrious career. As the
great champion of the world drove under the banner proclaiming ‘Sport for
Peace’ and received the chequered flag to the silent roars of the crowd, he
also knew that a new chapter in his rather eventful life, yet also his greatest
challenge lay in the days ahead.

 

 

 

PS: To dearest dad, see the dream never died!

 

It’s just taken another course.

 

“Life is what happens in between making other plans.”

 

– John Lennon (I think)

 

 

 

“Let each one of us build
bridges rather than barriers, openness rather than walls. Let us look at
distant horizons together in a spirit of acceptance, helpfulness, co-operation
and peace. Let our leaders look at the future with a vision to see things not
as they are, but what they could one day become.”

 

“Let us build bridges rather
than barriers, openness rather than walls. Rather than borders, let us look at
distant horizons together…in the common spirit of the value and dignity of a
shared personhood – our common humanity as citizens of planet earth.”

– craig

 

 

This is my favourite and sums up my message, my life…in
trying to break down barriers between people.

 

“I had a good chance to meet a yogi who was so
spiritual and happy all the time. I wondered how he managed his thinking and I
learned a lot from him. I saw him and I thought, ‘This is the way.’ You believe
in a God, but not in a religious way. We human beings like to give him names,
whether that is Jesus

 

or whatever else. But my view is that God is ONE, whether it
is Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, almost anything, and that he is everywhere.
He (or she) has (no gender), colour, no religion, no race, nothing. It’s
incredible how close he is to you and to everybody. You just call him (her/It)
and he’s there. That’s it, simple.

 

This is the reality we so often forget.”

 

– Balbir Singh, former physio-therapist to Michael
Schumacher (and student of psychology). (With my little additional few  words in brackets)

 

Clyde Brolin in his great book ‘Overdrive: Formula One in the Zone’

 

www.overdrivef1.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

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