Senna Monaco 1992
Posted on May 26, 2013 · Posted in Sports

In the lead up to the Monaco Grand Prix, ESPN and NBC Sports have been showing the 2010 documentary Senna in honor of the late Ayrton Senna who won the race a record six times. After watching it numerous times and knowing the story of Senna as good as anyone who followed his racing genius, I think there are some important items that should have been included in the film but failed to make the cut.

To include the full story of Ayrton Senna, one would arguably need at least six hours but had the film devoted just five minutes to the following pieces, I think it would have given viewers a better idea of who the man really was.

He developed a close relationship with Alain Prost in his final years

Alain Prost was quite upset when the film was released and he honestly has every right to be mad. Throughout the film, Prost and to a lesser degree Jean-Marie Balestre are portrayed as villains who work to deliberately sabotage Senna’s career. What the film leaves out is that following Prost’s retirement from Formula 1, the two developed a close friendship as they realized that competing against each other really brought out the best of their abilities. Prost claims they spoke over the phone every week and discussed racing and spirituality among other things. Prost would later attend Senna’s funeral (shown in the film) and work with his foundation.

His first lap at the 1993 European Grand Prix is without equal

The film fails to discuss what is arguably one of the greatest laps in racing history. In fact Senna’s overwhelming victory at Donington in 1993 could arguably be a documentary within itself because of the sheer level of skill on display. Senna, who started 4th in very wet conditions, was pushed to 5th on the opening lap when Michael Schumacher blocked him right after the start. Unfazed, Senna overtook Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and Alain Prost on the very first lap in a rain soaked Grand Prix that saw him lap everyone in the field except Damon Hill who eventually finished a full 1:23 behind.

His Foundation’s Impact on Brasil

Shortly before his death, Senna began to look for ways to help children in Brazil through a more substantial network than his ad-hoc charitable donations. His family began setting up a framework that would later become the Instituto Ayrton Senna. The organization continues to work toward Senna’s humanitarian goals and rather than go through the particulars, consider this quote from the Telegraph:

In 2007, the Instituto Ayrton Senna gave help to 1,350,532 children in 1,360 Brazilian cities. It has spent a staggering £45million, the family donating all the proceeds from the Senninha characters and the licensing of Ayrton’s image to the charity.

His Relationship with Honda and Audi

Honda powered most of the cars Senna drove during his Formula 1 career (including his three world championship cars) and the company used their relationship with the Brazilian to fine tune development of NSX. Senna’s endurance testing at the legendary Suzuka circuit convinced them to make a number of chassis adjustments and after his tests, the company gave him two test models to thank him for his work.

Senna was instrumental in bringing Audi to Brazil through his company Senna Import. The venture saw Audi enter the growing nation through vehicle sales and manufacturing. Audi Senna is still in business to this day and the manufacturing facility now makes Volkswagen and Audi vehicles.

His Records

Sports documentaries about the all time greats often focus on a single record or set of two or three records whether it’s championships, streaks or all-time marks. Senna focuses on the events surrounding his three drivers championships but since it would be boring to make a “checklist” documentary, here are some selected records to keep in mind:

All-time record for wins leading throughout a Grand-Prix: 19 (note: the closest is Jim Clark, with 13)
All-time record for consecutive poles: 8 (note: the 2nd best mark is also Senna’s, with 7. He also has two series of 6 poles in a row, with a total of 4 appearences among the top 10)
All-time record for consecutive front row starts: 24 (note: the closest is Damon Hill with 17)
All-time record for seasons with the most poles: 6 (record shared with Juan Manuel Fangio)
Discounting all the races abandoned due to technical failures in his car (44)[74], Senna would have a total of 117 GPs: his percentage of wins would go to 35,04% and his podium finishes would represent 68,37%.

Same Grand Prix Records

  • All-time record for consecutive wins: 5 at the Monaco Grand Prix; (Note: the 2nd best mark is also Senna’s, shared with Schumacher and Clark)
  • All-time record for total pole-positions: 8 at the San Marino Grand Prix (record shared with Michael Schumacher, who took 8 poles at the Japanese Grand Prix. Note: Senna participated of 11 qualifying sessions in San Marino, and Schumacher was present in 19 in Japan)
  • All-time record for consecutive poles: 7 at the San Marino Grand Prix
  • Senna was never overtaken in any of the 10 editions (1984-93) he took part at the Monaco Grand Prix. He won 6 times, took one 2nd place, one third and abandoned twice whilst leading

With Mclaren

All-time leader in wins, poles and championships (record shared with Alain Prost)

Postscript: 6th Item … his 1990 Qualifying Lap from Jerez