At indycar.com’s request, 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan provides a review of the motion picture biography of the life of fellow Brazilian race car driver Ayrton Senna.
During the Baltimore Grand Prix race weekend I was honored to host a private viewing of the “Senna” movie. The movie was released in Brazil in November 2010, so I watched it when I was there during the holidays.
During the São Paulo race in May, they released the DVD/Blu-ray, so I also have a copy at home, and even having watched it a few times. I watched it at the Landmark Harbor Theater in Baltimore like it was the first time.
Race fans all over the world know Ayrton Senna for his on-track performance and his three-time World Championship, and that’s exactly why this documentary is so good. It shows that and also shows a side of Senna that people don’t know — his human side. Yes, he was a tremendous sports ambassador and a race car driver like no other.
He was very dedicated and gave 110 percent at all times, but he was also human. The movie starts by showcasing Senna’s first year in Formula One at the Monaco GP, where he finished second to Alain Prost.
Prost was driving a championship-winning McLaren; Senna was driving a Toleman — a car that most people can’t even remember what it looked like. He would have won that race if it had not been red-flagged because of the rain. It was his fourth race in F1 and it set the tone for his career.
There are many cool things about the movie, but what strikes me the most about it are the Senna and Prost battles for the championship, with both of them fighting down to the wire at the Japanese race in two different years, as teammates at McLaren and then as rivals with Prost driving for Ferrari.
The first one Senna was pushed by the marshals trough the run-off area after colliding with Prost, pitted for a new front wing, came back and won the race. He was disqualified shortly after the race by a behind-the-scenes maneuver between Prost and the FIA president, Mr. Balestre, that clearly made a choice to benefit Prost at that time by bending the rules in his favor.
The next year, they came back to the same place, being one-two in the championship again. During the drivers meeting, Senna sat quietly while the other drivers raised the point about what happened during the previous year’s race. Everyone agreed that what happened was unacceptable, even the race director. Senna got up, said he couldn’t stand that ridiculous situation and left the room. He collided with Prost at the start of the race, but this time he had the advantage and clinched the championship.
Being Brazilian, I was heavily influenced by Senna as a driver, but what people really don’t know is that he also helped me out in my career. When I got to Europe to race F-Vauxhall, I only had a three-race deal because I did not have enough budget to do the full season.
In my third race, the one that was supposed to be the last, I was on the pole. Our races ran on the same weekends of the F1 races. I saw Ayrton walking down the paddock and he stopped to talk to me. He asked how I was doing and I said that that was my last race and explained why. He listened quietly. A few hours after that, he came down to my team transporter and asked to speak to the team owner. My mechanics couldn’t believe that Senna was knocking on our door.
He said to my team owner: “You see this young man here? He is better than me, he beat me in go-karts at my own racetrack in Brazil, you should give him a chance.” I got a full-season deal the minute Senna left our truck. That was the kind of guy Senna was.
source: © indycar.com