F1 Winter Break
Emotional night at Senna screening
Emotional night at Senna screening
Posted By: James Allen  |  04 May 2011   |  10:31 am GMT  |  88 comments

Last night JA on F1 hosted a screening of Senna, the award winning documentary at the Curzon Mayfair, to an audience of 320 people; fans, F1 insiders, ex Senna mechanics and ex drivers. The evening was introduced by Sir Jackie Stewart.

The evening was supported by TAG Heuer and all proceeds went to the Grand Prix Mechanics Trust.

After the screening we did a Q&A session with the film makers Asif Kapadia and Manish Pandey and there were contributions from Senna’s rival in F3 Martin Brundle, Dave Ryan, the ex McLaren team manager, Clive Hicks and Kenny Szmanski who were Senna’s mechanics at Lotus, Prof Watkins, one of Senna’s closest allies in F1 and finally Terry Fullerton, the kart racer whom Senna once said was the best driver he ever raced against. They spoke about Senna, his qualities and how well the film represented him.

Brundle spoke about how the film made him reconsider so much of what happened in his career, racing against Senna and explained certain things that took place which he hadn’t understood before. He talked of how, on the podium at Monza in 1992 Senna told him that they were going to be team mates at Williams the following year.

Prof Watkins spoke about Senna’s humility and what a rare quality that is in racing drivers. He told a story about a time when Senna came for an appointment at his hospital in London and waited in the waiting room, with the other patients and pushed a lady ahead of him in the queue into Watkins’ surgery in her wheelchair.

But the appearance of Fullerton was amazing. Senna’s tribute to him is in the film and it was incredible to hear his thoughts on what it felt like to be described by arguably the greatest F1 driver as the best he’d raced against.

It was an emotional occasion, the first time that the film has been shown to the public in the UK and over 200 fans, who bought tickets through this site, were there to experience it and share in the fascinating discussion afterwards. It goes on general release in the UK on June 3.

We are preparing a video about last night’s event which we will post soon here on the site, with contributions from the speakers mentioned above. Some stills for it are posted above.

Thanks again to the Trustees of the Mechanics Trust, especially Sir Jackie Stewart, Martin Brundle and Dave Ryan, to TAG Heuer, to Universal and above all to Manish Pandey and Asif Kapadia for making it happen.

Here’s what GQ Magazine thought of the night GQ Review

If you were there please leave a comment on your experience of the evening.

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Was at the film last night! Was sat quite close to the Senna's Lotus Mechanics and well they were very emotional about the film and the night itself!

The film is excellent!


Brilliant evening. Thanks so much James for organising it.

I was sat at the back behind Jackie Stewart two seats down from Professor Sid Watkins and the writer and producer. What an honour!

I found the film very emotional and inspiring. I started following F1 in '95 so I never saw Senna's race. I had read up a bit about him and had seen some of the footage used in the film previously on youtube. I can see the lure of the unsanitised formula 1 much better than before - although at it's heart I don't feel F1 has fundamentally changed much.

I hope the movie appeals to non-F1 fans and helps them understand why we are so passionate about the sport and the values that it represents (or should do).

Thanks once again to you, the film makers, and the guests that made it such a special evening.



We are waiting for this to come on general release and then on DVD or iTunes. I have seen some dissapointing anecdotes that Universal are editing down the version for DVD release.

Can you help?

We want the full version - everything from the screening. Offically how long is it? Please put any pressure you can to let us have the full and complete movie on DVD release.


That is not true. No idea where that came from. Producers say that the DVD is the same as the cinema film. It has lots of additional stuff on it, especially the Blu Ray.


The film I think was 100 minutes, but Manish and Asif implied that their first cuts were 7 and 6 hrs long respectively.

They did say that depending on the success of the movie they may do an extended directors cut.

Reading between the lines I took it that the royalty payments for the footage were probably probitive on the length of the movie.

Not sure if everyone else took the same conclusion away.


Firstly James many thanks for organizing the preview in London.

To have so many attendees who had both worked and raced against and to hear their anecdotes on Senna was for me the icing on the cake on a great evening. I thought Martin B missed an opportunity to say he had been hit more times than Eddie Irvine as he forgot to mention Adelaide in the wet!.


James, sounds like you organised a wonderful evening and hats off to those who contributed.

When you get around to posting a video will it include Fullerton’s speech/comments?

I fortunate enough to see the film last weekend and I was so surprised at the way Senna heaped praised on him. The clip where Senna talks about him and reel shows fullerton’s name during the kart race is a very special moment in the film and it would great to hear what he had to say about it.


It's being edited now. Yes, Fullerton is in it.


Worst part is they are not screening the SENNA movie in India 🙁


I requested Manish the exact same thing atleast during the Indian GP. Manish said, both he and Asif are working with Karun Chandhok on this. Looks like they may have a special screening during/after Indian GP


I was privileged enough to attend and see the movie for the first time. It is a truly powerful and emotional movie and one I recommend to all to see, F1 or non F1 fans. It was also an honour to be in the presence of people who knew and worked with Ayrton Senna, from the Lotus mechanics, Martin Brundle, Professor Sid Watkins & Terry Fullerton and to hear their stories. Thank you to James Allen & Tag Heuer for making this available for fans to attend, and to Manish Pandey & Asif Kapadia for this brilliant movie.

I look forward to seeing the Senna Movie again when it is out on June 3rd.


A wonderful -- if rather emotional -- experience to see the film in the presence such great names. Sensitively compered by James, the Q&A session really brought out the depth of feeling about this amazing man, and it was a pleasure to hear the down-to-earth filmmakers talk with such passion about their amazing film.

Thanks very much for organising this.


James- thank you for an amazing evening.

The film was breathtaking and vey moving. I saw several men cry during the screening.

The q&A Session was a real insight into the man and the annecdotes and stories added so much more.

All I can say is when I fianlly returned to the Peak District at a little past 1 in the morning I knew that I had been part of a very special evening.

I would reccomend this film to all and I for one will see it agin on general release.

ps when will the fabulous soundtrack be released.




Yes I would also like to know about the availability of the soundtrack


It was a fabulous evening, thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a fantastic piece of film-making and I was particularly moved by the music. Loved Terry Fullerton's Venice anecdote at the end, very special. I had wanted to ask about the BluRay's extras, but too shy in front of such a distinguished audience.

Can't wait to see it again and am looking forward to hearing the outcome of the stewards' enquiry into Watch-gate 😉

Well done, thanks for organising.


Jose (@Galapago555) and I had some banter with Asif last night on twitter about the watch draw.

"Cannot explain the draw, life is stranger than fiction" 🙂

For all of his hard work, we'll let him keep the tag watch 😉



Thanks for organising the evening.....even if your head was in the way of the subtitles! 🙂

Great film, excellent contributions from iconic Formula 1 figures past and present, and a very emotional trip through the life of such a complex fascinating character.

Thanks again


I feel very lucky to have seen the screening and was very pleased that all the proceeds went to the grandprix mechanics trust, a very deserving group of people whom without them motor racing wouldn't exist.

I went with my brother as we are both big fans of F1 and he got us the tickets, I loved the screening & the after show chat was outstanding, esp Martin Brundle & Proffesor Watkins, that was both a shock & great surprise, whose both regalled us with stories and anecdotes regarding their times with Senna.

The two mechanics were great & made us all laugh. Along with Mr Fullerton whom seemed quite surprised to be asked on stage and it was nice to see the writer & director so happy to meet him after seeing him in their recovered footage.

Film needs a second watch & I hope the bluray has 7hrs extras as promised.

The venue was very good and the quality of the film also.

At the end of the night we waited and spoke to the writer & director whom were both quite humble regarding giving their signatures and Sir Jackie was obviously mobbed in the lobby.



Thanks James for a very emotional evening. I was thinking in more detail about several things that where said afterwards and it really made the evening.

Prof Watkins anecdotes of his experiences meeting and working with Senna where amazing. It was also interesting to hear the detail the mechanics worked on to make sure everything was perfect.


I was one of the lucky 200 people as you know James.

The film I thought was good, and very interesting to see a lot of footage of drivers briefings etc that I'd never seen before (Jean Marie Balestre was a piece of work wasnt he).

Personal highlights of the film will always be the pole laps and in car footage and some of the behind the scenes footage. Those turbo cars were absolutely on the edge.

It was a little like a whos who night last night.

From memory I saw Martin, Mark Blundell, JYS, Jock Clear (unless I was imagining), think Sam Michaels was there, Dave Ryan and all of the guys you mentioned about. Someone also mentioned Perry McCarthy (original stig) was there too.

My favourite part of the aftershow were the contributions from

Martin > his career in parallel to Senna, what it was like to race him.

Clive and Kenny > their stories of Aryton asking them to scrub each block on the wets before putting them into tyre warmers (unheard of in those days) and some of his wet race annecdotes.

Sid Watkins > he was visibly moved (for understandable reasons) when he started his talk and got a rousing reception from the crowd.

Terry Fullerton > great insight into Ayrtons early years in karts, and some stories of when they had clashed in a race. Very entertaining guy.

Although I didnt get a chance to talk to Sir Jackie, I saw him actively seeking out fans to talk to them both at the start and the finish of the event.

And of course the inevitable highlight of meeting you in the foyer beforehand added to it for me (that photo of us came out terribly by the way - had my friend not had his hand on the flash it would have been great!)

Thanks again for a great fans event James!


Glad you enjoyed it. We'll do the photo again at the next event!


James thanks so much for organising this event. It was great to see the film and hear the opinions and anecdotes of those that knew him and raced against him.

To hear his mechanics and Prof Watkins talk during the Q&A was as emotional as the film itself.

A brilliant evening, thanks to all involved.

Conrad M. Sathirweth

I sadly had uni exams preventing me from trying to get tickets to the screening, but I have been waiting for the film to come out ever since I first heard about it which must of been about a year ago.

Although Senna died before I got into F1 he was still the way I got into it. I saw a book about him in a bookshop and I did not know who he really was but for some reason I bought it and read it anyway and was captivated by it and him.


I was at the screening last night and wish to congratulate Asif Kapadia and Manesh Pandey on a brilliant film. As a filmmaker myself I understand the complexity of the task they were faced with. For me the bench mark for sporting documentary is the Muhammad Ali biopic, 'When We Were Kings'. 'Senna' is every bit as good as that and will rightly sit alongside it in the pantheon of great documentary films.


The film last night was incredible, top job to everyone involved, a real testament to the talent senna had. Thanks for putting on a great event!


I can only echo what has been said above, it was a great evening. For me the highlight was hearing Professor Watkins speak at the end. The emotion he felt was clearly evident, and very moving. Well done to all involved.


What a fabulous night that was. I count myself so lucky to have been there. The film does a superb job of capturing what made Senna great, both as a man and as a racing driver. As a long time F1 fan it was emotional to re-live some of the events of Senna's life. Being in a room full of people that appreciate and know Formula 1 to that extent only served to heighten the experience. The collective deep-breath that everyone took as the film arrived at Imola '94 for example, was quite a moment to experience in itself.

The special guests after the movie were as big a treat as the film itself. Every one of the speakers had something enthralling to say. I found the mechanics particularly interesting. You often hear that a driver is 'demanding', but it is difficult to understand what that actually means in real terms. Hearing Senna's demands quantified by their stories was extremely illuminating.

I can't wait to see the movie again, especially as I noted that several speakers mentioned they found it to be even better on second viewing. I hope that the film makers are correct that they can reach a wider audience than a core of racing fans.

Thank you, James, for organising such a special evening.


James, as you predicted there were tears a plenty. Thanks to all for putting on this preview. The insights from the drivers and mechanics all added to a very memorable experience, tinged as it was with both sadness and joy. Prof Watkins is indeed a big man!

Hopefully this film will translate well to the mainstream audience. Seeing the Monaco lap on the big screen, at full volume was truly a visceral experience and really conveyed the violence of an F1 car. My congratulations to all involved in the making of this great, great film.


James, I missed the tickets but was interested in a quote from GQ magazine and Prost is quoted as saying when asked if he had seen the movie...

"I did a lot of filming for it. Maybe I will look at it later on, maybe not, because I do not agree with a few things. If I look at it, then I will have the opportunity to talk about it and I know there are a few things that are not correct at all. It is not the real story."

Have you heard anything about this??


Prost would naturally want his side of the story to be prominent, but the film is about Senna and shows his side more prominently ... There is never going to be agreement, but it is clear Prost is still bitter, even if they were supposedly reconciled shortly before Senna was killed.


Thank you James for the chance to attend this amazing event.

I was very moved by the film and will treasure it when I buy it on BluRay! I'm on the hunt for the soundtrack as well…

The Curzon felt like a very intimate event, despite over 300 people in attendance, and after the film it was great to spend time in the bar surrounded by some of motor racing's most talented and famous people.

The warmth and emotion that was clear to see amongst the audience will stay with me for some time.

I wish the film great success when it is released in cinemas this summer.


Great night, James. I felt very privileged to be there. It was a very friendly atmosphere and the guests were awesome. The film was an adrenalin rush that made you think whilst also transporting you to another world. I loved the 'unseen' footage such as the drivers briefings. I never once thought about the essentially poor quality of the footage because the 'story' was just so gripping. Late last night it dawned on me that the film makers turned such an enormous tragedy into a life affirming triumph by givin us Senna's life rather than just his death. The sound track is how all F1 races should sound! This is a film that should definitely be seen on the big screen and I hope lots of racing and non-racing fans go to see it. Certainly it's a must for anyone who is interested in sport and the passion it takes to win.


James, I too can only echo the views of the everyone else, thank you for putting on the screening and I was so lucky to get a ticket!

The film was fantastic, and I hope it reaches a wider audience than just the millions of F1 fans around the world - although that in itself will make it a successful film.

I started watching(remembering) F1 in 91 so only caught the last 4 years of Senna's life, but despite that I was acutely aware of how good he was. Although I only really appreciated it properly after THAT performance at Donnington in 93(I was only 9 at the time) before that he had been the enemy trying to stop Mansell winning the title!! 😉

The special guests were all superb and the stories equally so. But the best by far for me was Prof Watkins, he was sat just 4 seats down the row from me when he spoke, and the emotion in his voice, and the emotion etched in his expressions were enough to bring tears to my eyes again. You can see it hurts him to this day, that he could not do anymore on that day at Imola 17 years ago. It was truly special to be in the company of the man

Thank you again, and hopefully I will get the chance to come along to another JA on F1 event soon!


James, thank you for arranging an extraordinary evening, I am so delighted to have been there. Asif and Manesh are to be congratulated on producing an incredible film which captures the essence of the man I only knew from across the paddock beautifully, in what was a very special time in F1. Their use of total archive and no in-vision talking heads is to be applauded and the audio is absolutely sublime. The short shorts on the mechanics was a happy memory too! Congratulations all - like many others I can't wait to see it again.


Really enjoyed last night, so thanks for putting on the event. The input from Martin and Sid make the night even more memorable... will be seeing this a few more times at the cinema.


Actually, I was quite disappointed with the movie and this is why... http://goo.gl/fb/aFjnK (in French)

Stephen Kellett

"He told a story about a time when Senna came for an appointment at his hospital in London and waited in the waiting room, with the other patients and pushed a lady ahead of him in the queue into Watkins’ surgery in her wheelchair."

I'm really sorry to have to point this out, but the above is an example of perfectly normal decent behaviour. I don't think that is an example of being humble at all.

What would extraordinary would a story of Senna pushing in front of her because he thought he was more important than her. The sort of thing you might read about many current day footballers and their "I earn more money in a week than you do in a year" attitude.

I wasn't there, I haven't seen the film. I'm sure it will be worth watching when its on general release.


Dear James,

Do you know if the Blue Ray version will be on sale in USA?.

Best Regards


For sure, as we say in F1

Jonathan Powell

Hi James,

I regularly come on your website and sometimes post replies to articles. I havent been on the website for a few days as i was away at Thruxton at the weekend but have just been on and have to say your articles are absolutely fantastic!You do a great job of capturing the heart of a particular story, whether it be the new Senna movie, the search for an Indian F1 driver or Coughlin's appointment at Willaims F1.

Keep up the great work!




Thanks, I appreciate that!


Nice to see Terry getting the recognition he deserves 🙂

Sad I couldn't be there 🙁


I was gutted to miss the opportunity to attend this event and that feeling is even greater now reading that article!

Well done on getting so many amazing contributors together for the screening - look forward to the video!


Kenny Szymanski is one of the best all-time story tellers I have ever met. One could make a history of racing movie just based on his banter - be sure to set him up with a beer or two and roll the film.

Honestly, I was kind of shocked to see Kenny's name in the article and so gratified that someone was keen enough to seek him out. He isn't the most high profile person in racing, and it shows that the people involved have a real feel for the depth of the culture that Senna took by storm, and has left still in his wake.


Kenny and clives stories were great last night.

And it emerged than kenny flew all the way from the states (he works for an American airline so could divert) to be there.

The comments made the night for me, which absolutely reinforced the real reason for the evening, which was the gp mechanics trust. Those guys were part of many a legend in f1. The smart drivers realise it.

Terry Fullerton was excellent value as well.


Clive, too. The Kenny and Clive Show is legendary in F1


Should make an audio podcast of the event to listen to in the car ?



I would listen to it on the commuter train...


Hi James,

Was at the screening last night and just wanted to say a huge thank you!

The film is a masterpeice and the whole atmosphere of the evening complimented it perfectly.


Your contribution to the sport and bringing the fans closer to it is unparalleled in any sport. Great work James! Wish I were in the UK to attend all these events.


I can only echo the comments of everyone else, it was a fantastic evening. The movie was as moving as I expected and to hear from Prof. Sid Watkins after the event was a very pleasant surprise.

Great work on organising the event James for what is a very worthy cause. Just need to wait another month now before I can see it again!


Just a reminder to those in the Toronto area, the movie plays tonight and Friday night at the Hot Docs film festival. Of course, both showings are sold out but "rush" tickets may be available.


Asif Kapadia is on his way to Toronto now


...and Asif did make it to the screening. He was at the airport when the movie started but made it for the rather enjoyable Q&A afterwards. It was an interesting crowd because about 1/3 of the crowd had no idea who Senna was (this was part of a documentary film festival). But the crowd loved it. I was also lucky in that it played in a large theatre so it was amazing to see it on a large screen with loud sound. In short - great movie. And James - thanks for being part of this project and promoting it so that even non-race fans will know the story.


Excellent! I hope he can make it to tonight's showing (Wednesday) as I have a ticket. But since he was in London last night, I suspect that he will only be able to make it to Friday's showing. Looks like I picked the wrong date to go. All that really matters is the movie but it can be so much more interesting when the filmmaker is available for a Q&A afterward.


A great night and a very moving and well made film, a tribute to the most gifted driver. I met Sir Jackie Stewart and Martin Brundle and the stories and comments about Ayrton from Sid Watkins, Dave Ryan, Martin Brundle, Terry Fullerton and the Mechanics who worked with Ayrton were Great.


Please post those videos James,those behind the scenes moments from the real heroes lifes are the things that we the fans want to hear.

Could you do a presentation like this one,with all those great guests, here in NYC one of these days?


I watched this film last night, and must say having been a fan of Senna since I was a kid (I'm now 40)I found the film truely amazing.

Every year in May I think back to that sad day, and this film I found to be very emotional.

I just wanted to say thank you to everyone that brought the film to everyone 🙂


Like others I feel the need to thank James for arranging the fabulous opportunity which some of us were lucky enough to experience last night.

The film is totally absorbing and I learnt so much more about a driver I have always regarded as "the best". Senna was a man with many layers to his personality - very special. I also learnt a lot about the history of the FIA and other drivers who were Senna's main competitors. I have to say they did not always come out in a very favourable light at all.

The film is worth seeing even if you are not a motor racing fan. If you are and if you are a Senna fan, it is the icing on the cake.

I was also very moved by those who spoke who knew Senna, but it was a real privilege to be in the presence of Prof Watkins, a giant of the sport and a legend in his own lifetime. To hear him speaking of Senna, his compassion and humility was very special.

I’ll finish by saying thanks once more to all who made last night possible, the celebrities, the film makers, Tag Heuer and again, and particularly, James Allen



I'm an avid Senna fan and have also followed your commentary since watching you as a pit-lane reporter for ITV and I have to say you are my "go-to" authority on news in F1! I currently live in Canada and am desperate to see the Senna film - do you know if there will be a release at all over here or am I destined to have to wait until the DVD is on sale (do you know when this will be as well?)


I think it's imminent. The premier is this week, I believe.


Excellent night James, many thanks for organising it. It would be a great addition to the DVD if it included the essentials of the discussion with Manesh and Asif as fascinating background to the difficulties and achievements of making the film.

It explains so clearly how much they were forced to leave out, why so many moments that we remember and are suprised not to see are not there. Even Donington, and the great battle with Mansell down the straight which could only be included behind the credits.

And kudos for the extraordinary group of people you were able to call on in the audience, particularly Sid - a standing ovation, wonderful - Kenny and Clive, and the biggest surprise of all, Terry Fullerton.

Thanks again.


Thanks for a fantastic night. We had the privilege of sitting next to Martin Brundle & Mark Blundell. I loved hearing the stories and memories from his mechanics and of course the legend himself, Sid Watkins.

A truly unforgettable night and amazing but emotional film.


Fantasic evening Great film for more information regarding the event Check out my blog that has some video of the Q&A session that took place after the screening. Miss the film and you will regret it.

jose arellano

James where can i get info of where can i see this movie in New York? im making a trip there this month and i reckon is my best chance to see it in a cinema.


As everyone has said, it was an incredible experience and a privilege to be able to share it with all the other fans and some very distinguished guests. As I said last night, for me as someone who sadly didn't get the chance to see Senna race it provided a real insight into what it was like to see him in action, and to understand the situation in the 1980s and early 1990s. The stories from Marin Brundle, Sid Watkins, the Lotus mechanics and the surprise guest Terry Fullerton were the icing on the cake, and in addition it was nice to see Terry get some recognition for his achievements. Finally, it was a pleasure to meet and chat with Sir Jackie, Lady Helen, Mark Stewart (whose latest film on Jim Clark may be on BBC2 soon hopefully), James, Manish and Asif after the film, and all involved deserve a lot of credit for what they've achieved.

Thanks again for organising the event James - rest assured I'm doing my bit to promote it to my friends, including the non-F1 fans!


Firstly a thankyou to James for organising this. I was lucky enough to be there, and it was one of the best nights of my life.

I was (am) a huge Senna fan - lucky enough to be at Donnington 93 - and even though I know the story like the back of my hand, the film bought out pretty much every emotion. I was sceptical it could be as good as the reviews, but it was far beyond that.

Also the guests that were there added an extra dimension - Hearing Sid talking was a definite highlight, but so were all the guests.

Thanks again James.


James there is a possibility for the film come to Dominican Republic?

Here in DR there are very hardcore F1 and Senna fans. It'll be a pleasure see it on the big screen.

Senna was the main reason of me becoming a Die for F1 fan.



Are you aware of whether the film will be shown here in New Zealand and if so when?

It sounded like a great evening and well done for organising it.


Bob & Shaune McMurray



if you're on facebook there is a Senna movie page, and I know manish and Asif answer questions posted on there.




Not sure about that. Will ask


James can't wait for this film to come to Australia. Was lucky enough to see Terry Fullerton race here in 1979 in the extreme wet at Oran Park, he was untouchable.


I so wish I was there to see it. Im a Brit living in Malaysia and Singapore.

James - do youknow if it will get shown out here?

Ted the Mechanic

It's nice to hear 1973 Karting World Champion Terry Fullerton was involved in the evening. Around 1991/92 I had the honour of interviewing Terry here in New Zealand when he was visiting his friend Kerry Rowe and I was editor of Auckland Kart Club's monthly magazine. I had just read Christopher Hilton's book "Ayrton Senna - The Hard Edge of Genius" so I knew of their history together and Senna's respect for Terry. My interview didn't win any literary awards however it was pretty special to chat with, firstly a World Kart Champion, and secondly someone who had raced against (and beaten) the great Senna who was one of my great F1 idols at the time. Something to do with the small degree of separation I guess...


I have been very lucky to have seen this film when on hoilday.

I took my wife to see it and she wasnt keen but within the first 10 minutes she was hooked, we watched it without a word spoke until the end,

My wife gets bored very easily watching films unless the first part hooks her which she did,

When it was finished I asked her how she felt and what she thought about senna, and her reply was how fascinating the film was and she understood why I had been so excited to watch it she said that F1 misses a driver like this not only for his talent but because she said he wasnt afraid to speak his mind to the press in public or even to the FIA and other heads of the sport.

My wife even explained that she thought he was very down to earth and was a normal person compared to some drivers.

From my view the press he was under to deliver to the fans especially was emmense but he seemed so polite and always had time for everybody no matter who it was.

He is without doubt the most talented driver ever seen in this sport but very much a human being and cared for his fellow competitors more than it appears to have cared for his own life.

My wifes final comment was how did they block out the fact that safety was so lax, but she understood how exciting it must have been to drive with drivers like that.

I would have him on a table of top ten people id invite for dinner dead or alive.

Such a shame what happened.

But they do say




The movie, the guest stars and their speeches and the intimacy of the event all surpassed my expections significantly.

Thanks for organising and more importantly thanks for making F1 more accessible to the fans.


This May 3rd evening in London seems to have become legendary. Stories from it made it over to Asif's Q&A yesterday at Toronto's Hot Docs.

I'm a big F1 fan myself, having traveled to some 15 GPs and watching for 15 years. But being in Canada, I started following in 1996 - when Jacques joined Williams. Of course I know the Senna story, but missed all the visuals and drama as it happened. The story has always been told to me through someone else's eyes or through some else's words. I feel like this film was made just for me - letting me enjoy the drama and see the story without it being colored by someone else, and with the highest attention paid to the quality of footage through which I got to see it. Extremely enjoyable. After seeing it, I went home and hugged the kids just a little longer. Those closing words by Senna about developing and growing further as a man choked me up. Some heavy stuff said by a man who's life would be cut short. I congratulate the film's team for making a movie that clearly will capture every audience from F1 fans that know the story to those that will learn for the first time who Senna was.


Well, I guess I'm in the clear minority, but I found the film disappointing on a few levels. I saw it last night in Toronto at Hot Docs. Having convinced two friends to come who have no idea who Ayrton Senna was, or what F1 is, and listening to their confusion and questions afterwards (nothing about F1 is explained for a non-F1 viewer; little is put in to context), I asked the filmmaker during the Q&A who he made the movie for -- F1 fans or a non-F1 viewer. He seemed offended at the question, as all his other answers alluded to how Bernie and the Senna family and a bunch of drivers have all told him how great the movie is. But I think it's a fair question and one he didn't really answer. Afterwards, I send the Top Gear tribute to Senna to my female friend who'd just seen the movie and she told me she finally understood what F1 was, and why Senna is considered an artist in a car.

All this said, the film is a stunning achievement of documentary filmmaking in that so many incredible scenes were captured by F1s TV crews and finally are being shown to viewers through this film.


Sorry to use this venue as a point of discussion, and by no means do I wish to be insulting - or be a defender of this film product. However, I don't know what it is that your friends needed explanations for.

What is confusing about F1 in the context of this film? This movie is not about explaining car wight, power, down force, paddle shifting, active suspension, setup, tire types, etc.

If your friends didn't know what these men were doing on the tracks and wanted an explanation about F1 as far as the movie period is concerned it should have been this. "Brave drivers risk their lives driving their dangerous race cars to win." And if they had further questions about the technology, they are lucky to have a friend like you that could provide those answers. But those answers were by no means essential to the movie's goal or one's ability to enjoy it.

I think too many die hard F1 fans are going over the top expecting every detail explained in this movie to perhaps verify their knowledge - as indicated by the frequently geeky questions. I felt Asif addressed this point clearly. F1 technology is not relevant to the Senna story, and where it is, it is explained sufficiently and not technically detailed to the point that would make non-F1/non-tech viewer's eyes glaze over. Time limitations also need to be respected, and this movie is perfect length in my view. There is no "fat" - it's all "tender juicy meat" bits. This is a story with focus on the man, his passion, his desire to win, his ambitions, his humanity, his ability to inspire, and how we're at a loss now that he's gone.

The man's legend is captured perfectly in the funeral scenes. Do you think those children, women, men who wept at his death and lined the funeral route were expert F1 fans? Lucky if 1% could have explained active suspension to us or even knew how many cylinders the engines had that Senna was winning with.

The limitations through which they worked - having Senna tell us the story were difficult.

I really liked that approach, because I've heard others color the Senna story for me for too long. I've tuned it out sometime in 2002 because I couldn't pickup an F1 magazine without something about it. Now I got to see it with my own eyes what defined him and made him connect with so many - with no commentary, no opinion. I understand now why so many refuse to propel Schumacher past Senna as the greatest of all time on numbers and records alone. He simply fails to connect with as many as Senna was able to connect.


Thanks for your comments, Sebee.

Here are my thoughts.

This movie IS about F1, in that it is through F1 that we get to know Ayrton Senna. There are odd clips from home movies and the like, but the vast majority of the movie is from F1 television footage. And thus, to appreciate why Ayrton Senna is special, one needs to grasp the danger of the sport and how incredible some of his achievements were. For instance, when he outqualified Prost at Monaco by 1.5 seconds. To me, that's a defining moment. But unless you know that 1.5 seconds is an eternity in F1, it's a lost bit of gold. There are literally dozens of examples throughout Senna like this.

I am not a diehard F1 fan wanting this film to pull more people into the tribe of fans by selling them on its greatness. I didn't want it to explain downforce or turbocharging or paddle-shifting. But I DID want my friends to understand why Senna was unique and extraordinary, and they both said they felt they didn't get a full sense of that. And without a few basic bits of knowledge, there is no bar for them to measure him against others. This is a sports film, and thus, you need to understand a bit of the sport to fully understand the personality.

What the movie needed was a bit of outside narration to guide the uninformed viewer along. Just a bit.

Have you seen 'Faster,' the documentary about MotoGP? I know a lot about motorcycles and still, since buying that documentary, I've watched it countless times. It dumbs the sport down for an uninformed viewer, yet it also captures the drama and danger of it all. Some of that level of storytelling would have been appreciated in Senna.

Richard Craig

Are you able to post a list of where the film will be shown? I'd really like to see it on a "proper" cinema screen and am hopeful that the major chains (Vue, Cineworld, Odeon) will ensure it plays in at least one of their cinemas in cities such as London, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow, Edinburgh, etc.

I am already resigned to having to watch it in an arthouse cinema (smaller screens), but the Edinburgh Filmhouse won't be showing the film until the end of July (around 7 weeks after its release date). Hoping it might be part of the Edinburgh International Film Festival


Hi James,

I read with a heavy heart about the evening that I had no chance of ever attending. But I want to ask this, will you consider bringing out a special edition DVD with the Q&A section of the screening? I would really appreciate that.




There will be a video about the event tomorrow morning on this site


How unfortunate that there'll be no screening of this movie anywhere in Africa - a whole continent!

Grayzee (Australia)

As a long time Senns fan, and having heard about about the new Senna film, I dusted off and watched my copy of the videotape titled, Senna - Racing is in my blood", a 50 minute autobiography filmed in 1992/1993.

This movie showed a lot of Senns the person, as well as early racing footage(including scenes teaching his very young nephew "Bruno" how to drive a powerboat)and I wonder just how much more is in the new movie.

Have you, or any of your readers seen both movies and can give a comparison?


Terry from niche podcast anotherf1podcast here. This is our take on the night - http://bit.ly/mk3UVs

and a review of the film itself - http://bit.ly/mv00an



I'm sending you my review of the Senna movie - hope you find it of interest.





Thanks, very interesting

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