The tragic death of Ayrton Senna in 1994 not only impacted Formula One, it affected the world. While the people of Brazil mourned the loss of one of their sons, the world stood in shock as one of the greatest ever drivers passed away.

His sister Viviane, who speaks fondly of her brother in the hit documentary ‘Senna’, has used Ayrton’s legacy to better the lives of millions of kids throughout Brazil through the Instituto Ayrton Senna. She graciously gave up her time to give us her thoughts on Asif Kapadia’s brilliant film, and her brother’s impact on the world.


What were your impressions of the film?

I was positively surprised because the film portrays my brother exactly as he was, on and off the tracks. It is indeed very thrilling. Manish Pandey´s idea, scriptwriter and producer, of using Ayrton as the narrator of his own story, was fantastic. It is not a coincidence that the film has been a success because it thrills, makes people laugh and think.

What sort of memories did it bring back?

Very enjoyable ones, even if they are memories of a very hard time for Ayrton, because the environment in F1 was not a calm and welcoming one. Whenever he had the opportunity to take a break from such environment, Ayrton would come to Brazil and we would live very special moments together, these were moments of sharing experiences and emotions. We never lost the sense of family, even at the top of his success.

Why was Ayrton considered such a great man, both as a sportsman and a person?

Whoever watches the film will realize that besides his competency, Ayrton used a lot of creativity in the races, he was daring, strong-minded and wanted to surpass himself all the time. He joined engineers when they were fixing the car, walked on foot along the circuit to analyze each part of the track … fought for security in F1. He also had a huge love for Brazil and was always using his image not only to promote the country but also to help the less privileged to have better opportunities in life.

Can you explain to a large British audience, why Brazil loved Ayrton so much?

Brazil is now a different country compared to the time when Ayrton raced in F1.  It was a nation which offered very few development opportunities to its citizens. We have not completely overcome this problem, but things at Ayrton´s time were even worse. All of a sudden, in a sport for the cream of society, emerges a simple man, even shy, who started to astonish everyone in F1, to rise to the podium more than usual … and to carry with him, in these victories, the Brazilian flag, so as to show the world from which country he came from. This love and determination to win moved and still moves the Brazilian soul, the people who fight every day to conquer their daily victories. Ayrton revealed worldwide the luminous side, the victorious side of our country.

How much did Brazil as a country, mean to him and how much of a role did helping those less privileged play in his life?

Brazil was his home. He loved his country very much, the people, the climate, the life he had here. This is so true that it was in Brazil that he spent his resting periods between one season and the other. My brother has always been annoyed with the huge social differences in Brazil, which were and still are striking.  This moved him a lot: a few with so much, so many with nothing.  Thus, whenever possible, he used to make donations. But he was aware that such specific actions would not be responsible for great changes. And so he talked to me about it in March 1994. Ayrton wanted me to help him think about a more systematic action that would indeed change the lives of the underprivileged people. Unfortunately we had no further chance to talk more about this. And, at the end of 1994, my family decided to create the Ayrton Senna Institute, making his dream come true and also to thank the Brazilian people for all the love and affection they have always dedicated to my brother.

What sort of a man would Ayrton be now?

I have no doubts he would be a well succeeded man in anything he had done.  I imagine he would be working in something related to motor racing. And for sure would be totally committed to his people, using his victorious image to benefit the country.

How do you feel about Bruno now racing as a Formula 1 driver?

I imagine that my feelings about Bruno are the same of any other F1 racer mother.  I am always apprehensive, of course. But at the same time, I realize that my son is happy, fulfilling his dreams. And so I try to be as close as possible, cheering for his success and supporting him in everything.

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