It was something I just had to do!

The Senna movie, something that had been heralded for quite some time, was showing at my local cinema and I just happened to have the day off work.  The temptation and opportunity were all to compelling to ignore; no nattering children; a screening time when most people would still be at work, all resulting in an empty theatre and a viewing experience I did not have to share with anyone else.

Well, no-one else other than the other guy, sat two rows back, who unfortunately had the same idea as I did.

So there I sat, huge back of sweets on my lap; the kind that cost a small fortune, with my smartphone close at hand – WordPress App open, ready to record my every thought, my every emotion. It is important to note that using a phone whilst at the cinema is a major no-no – it is poor etiquette, the kind of activity that is likely to irritate anyone sat behind you – as their gaze will constantly be drawn away from the screen towards that irritating glow.

However, with only me and sweet chomping guy there, I had no-one to annoy.

I had no expectations of the film, save the obvious wish to know more about what happened on that fatal weekend at Imola. I remembered the race weekend as though it were yesterday; the terrifying accident of Rubens Barrichello, the tragic sequence of events that lead to the first death in Formula One in over a decade, a death that shattered the belief that F1 had become safe, instead of just ‘safer’.  A death that wrenched the heart of any and everyone associated with the sport; competitors, teams, media and fans alike.

And just as the world of motor sport reeled at the death of Roland Ratzenberger, someone constantly acknowledged as one of the nicest guys in the paddock, we had the start-line accident that ultimately ended the Formula One career of JJ Lehto and hurled an errant wheel into a horrified crowd.  And after this, after we thought we had endured the absolute worst weekend in recent Formula One history, the weekend blackened even further with the tragic death of Ayrton Senna ; compounding the hurt, the anger and the futile sense of loss.

I wasn’t a fan of Senna’s, as he was the nemesis to my childhood hero, Nigel Mansell, but I was abundantly aware of the enigmatic impact he had on the sport – it would have been impossible not to have understood that effect.  His death left a vacuum in people’s hearts; regardless of their opinion on him as a man, they all knew, we all knew he was one of the most talented individuals to ever grace the sport – someone whose impact, accolades and achievements you believed were very unlikely to be superseded by anyone for quite some time to come.

And so I sat, awaiting the emotional roller-coaster that would attempt to remind me and sweet chomping guy of the precocious talent we had lost; the controversial character he had been and the levels others would have to reach to truly rest from him his crown.  When it came to being reminded of key protagonists to Senna I recalled just how much I had despised Senna’s rival, Alain Prost.  No matter how much I disliked Mansell losing out on a duel to the mercurial Brazilian, I was even more enraged when I considered how he was undermined by the Frenchman when they shared a garage when they both drove for the prancing horse.

The 1980’s, politics ruled the sport then, just as much, if not much more than it does now.  Watching the Senna movie brought the memories flooding back; Mansell versus Piquet at Williams; Senna versus Prost at McLaren, Jean-Marie Balestre seemingly conspiring against them all.

Watching also reinforced, for me at least, the similarities that so many observers and followers of the sport see between the character that was Ayrton Senna and the man who idolised him as a young boy, the potentially equally talented and oft-times sensational Lewis Hamilton.  Just like Senna in his day, Lewis divides opinion amongst the fans; those who love him and those who don’t.

What they can all, mostly all, agree upon, as with Senna, is that Hamilton is one of the most outstanding and naturally talented, some would say gifted, drivers to ever grace the sport.

I have deliberately avoided detailing the movie in any depth, as I feel it is something you should experience for yourself and I do not wish to provide any spoilers,  but I will say that it left me with a feeling of immense loss.  Not just the loss of Senna and Ratzenberger, but the loss of an era in the sport when the drivers spoke their minds, regardless of the name of the sponsor emblazoned across their shirts.

If you get the chance, if the moment should present itself to you – I wholeheartedly recommend that you take the time out of your day to remember one of the most defining characters in the entire history of Formula One.

  1. abhi says:

    It is a very nice post, happy I read this 🙂

  2. Jo Bryant says:

    I am definitely going to look for this now. I was a Senna fan – but you have pointed out so many other areas of motor racing that are addressed in this film that is has become a must see. 🙂

    • As a Senna fan I believe you will be moved by the movie. You may well have seen much of the footage when it was originally aired, but seeing it again, put together with the narrative, will just take you back; you will immediately remember what it felt like to watch Formula One back then.

      I really hope you enjoy it. It would be great if you came back and let us know what you thought of it :).

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