Asif Kapadia’s biographic movie charting the career of Ayrton Senna proved a mesmerising hit in cinemas last winter. It’s now out on DVD and BluRay, promising to bring the mercurial magic of Senna to a whole new audience in the home.

Film critics have given it rave reviews but who better to offer a slightly more subjective opinion than the people who work in the F1 paddock? We set out to gauge the opinions of both those who appear in the movie and others who grew up with the legend. What do they think?

James Allen
Then: Brabham press officer and journalist
Now: Commentator and journalist

If I would make one change it would be to put in a couple of beats in the first half of the film showing that Senna did at times take some risks with other people, which is what led Prost to say “he believes in God, he thinks he can’t kill himself,” because that was a part of Senna that you can’t really get away from.

But – but – I think as a film it works fantastically well. I don’t think Prost comes out of it badly; I think there’s a tremendous redemptive quality about the way that they show Senna and Prost reuniting at the end. Sadly there wasn’t a shot of the two of them together at Imola in 1994. They did have a meeting but there is no shot of it.

I think it’s a lasting legacy of probably the greatest driver who ever lived. As a film I think it’s fantastic. But I’m not unbiased.

Eric Silbermann
Then: Honda press officer (at McLaren)
Now: Toro Rosso head of communications

I was invited to one of the premieres but work got in the way and I didn’t see it until recently when travelling out to the Japanese Grand Prix. I think by that point it had been hyped so much it was never going to be the brilliant film it was described as – but it was good.

I think everything to do with Senna is now mythologised. This is a fair portrayal of Ayrton in the scenarios that he’s shown in, which is mainly at work, but there were other sides to his character away from work that don’t make it onto the screen.

I was pleased to see that Prost didn’t come across as quite the villain that some reviews claimed he was. I mean, Alain was a little French bloke with a chip on his shoulder who used to chew his fingernails when Ayrton was quicker than him but he wasn’t Dick Dastardly. Or Muttley.

Bob Constanduros
Then: Circuit commentator and interviewer
Now: Circuit commentator and interviewer

I don’t mind admitting that I have been disappointed in some aspects of the Senna film – but then it wasn’t aimed at entertaining or informing me. I was in motorsport for all of Ayrton’s career, I conducted some of the interviews shown in the film. I knew him reasonably well, and had a lot of respect for him, particularly as a human being.

What disappoints me are the gaps in the film. There’s almost nothing about his early career; I particularly wanted to hear what prompted the then married Ayrton to quit racing in 1981 only for now unmarried Ayrton to return in 1982 – and to hear from Martin Brundle of his battles with Ayrton in Formula Three in 1983.

Much later, I would have liked to have heard his rant against Jean-Marie Balestre – with accompanying beeps – at the press conference the year after being denied a change of pole position at Suzuka. And to miss out the sensational 1993 European Grand Prix on a soggy Easter Sunday at Donington was criminal – that was a fantastic race.

But then this is a subjective film celebrating the life of Ayrton Senna, with the support and agreement of his family, intended to be a commercial success in the USA and Brazil. It’s not objective, not a documentary perhaps, certainly not warts and all. I want it to be something that it isn’t.

Tom Clarkson
Then: Teenage fan
Now: Journalist and commentator

I think it’s terrific. Ayrton was racing when I was a teenager and watching the film instantly made me feel like a kid again, back in the era when I was falling in love with the sport. There’s lots from that time that we see over and over again but this film somehow has uncovered plenty of footage that I’ve never seen before – which I thought was absolutely fantastic.

As a story it’s very well told, but it shouldn’t be taken as the truth. It’s very one-sided – at least it is if you’re a Prost fan, though it’s good that there’s an absence of talking heads breaking up the action.

I saw it on the big screen and the interesting thing was that the people I saw it with – who are not hardcore F1 fans – absolutely loved it. So it’s fabulous for the wider audience. But it also highlights the lack of characters in F1 today.

That said, I think it’s a brilliant advert for Formula One. It’s also a fitting eulogy for Senna.

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