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“Convert a sceptical friend to F1 with Senna” competition winner announced
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Jul 2011   |  10:39 am GMT  |  20 comments

We have been running a competition on JA on F1 for fans to use the crossover appeal of the Senna film to give a friend or partner who doesn’t get Formula 1 some kind of understanding of, and interest in, the sport.

We were looking for comments from the sceptic about what the film had made them see about F1. And we had some fantastic entries.

Most of the entries were from women, it must be said, largely partners of F1 fanatics who have been ‘converted’ to the cause!

Manish Pandey, the writer and producer of the Senna movie and I have been looking through the responses. We liked Daisy Wilde’s comments on how the movie opened her eyes to F1’s sporting tensions as well as the politics.

We also liked Mitzi’s thoughtful comments about what the film made her feel about risk and the pursuit of sporting glory in F1, “I saw something I couldn’t quite understand, a fine balance between the need to win, to live on the limit, and the need to keep the racing pure. I see that this need to find the limit and push on it still defines F1 today, from driver to engineer.”

But the winner has to be Hayley Fox. Manish texted me shortly after she posted her comment and we were looking hard to see if there was anything better. But there isn’t. Her perspective not just on the film but on F1 and how it needs to find a way to cross-over to a wider audience – as the film does – is very interesting.

So congratulations to Hayley, who wins the prize, which is a Dream weekend for two at the Santander British Grand Prix, this weekend, July 8th-10th with 2 Grandstand tickets for all three days, Friday, Saturday and Sunday as well as hotel accommodation on Friday and Saturday nights in Oxford and transportation to and from the event.

Many thanks to our friends at Santander UK, who generously donated this fantastic prize.

The winner will also get a signed Senna movie poster and a collectors’ edition Blu ray of the film (when it’s released).

There is a signed and framed Senna poster and a copy of the Blu ray for the runner up, Daisy Wilde.

And there is a poster and a Blu ray for the highly commended effort of Mitzi. We will be in touch via email to get the prizes to you all and thanks to everyone for taking part.

Hayley Fox writes: “My Husband is a huge F1 fan and loves Senna and begged me to go to the cinema to see Senna,

I hated F1 and could not see its appeal silly men sitting in silly cars going round and round.

Well we arrived at Cineworld in Crawley after driving all the way from Dover to see it. I was not happy we had driven nearly 2 hours just to see a film i was not interested in.

Well within 20 minutes I was hooked to the film not because of the man it was based on but it felt like a real drama film with all sorts of action.
To list a few it had drama, love (peoples passion for the cars the circuits and the people), politics, bullying, aggression, fear and a sense of family within this thing that I now understand to be called motorsport and formula 1.

The start just hooked me in and as it went on despite my husband telling me the ending hundreds of times I was scared as the ending began to get ever near. I watched in horror as the ratzenburger crash happened and could not believe how people can act or feel when things like this happened.
I also noticed that the bullying that seemed to be thrown at Senna during the accident with Prost was very unjust F1 seems to make you guilty for supposedly breaking rules that are dangerous in the first place or certainly were when this happened.

When the Senna fatal accident finally happened I was basically crying not just because of his crash but because it seemed that senna felt he was the leader of the sport and even though ratzenburger had died the day before and the crash of his friend barichello, he had said to the doctor that he had to go on because he could not leave the sport in the state it was in.

To me it felt like a political leader or a president vowing to stand by and protect his people during war when people are needlessly dying for no need or because they follow the wrong rule. He felt like a man who held the sport together

After watching the film I was sad it had ended it a film that left me wanting more although I knew it could not. Senna I have begun to learn was not just a special person in a sport but was seen as god to the people of Brazil.

I loved watching the close racing and the politics and the badly thrown accusations and in some cases bullies like FIA leader Ballestre.

At the end of the film I said to my husband what great acting to which he replied that was not acting that was made using interviews and real footage of senna and races. I was even more full of phraise when he said this because it has been put together beautifully even though it may be a bit biased towards senna but you can forgive the film for that because of its beautiful story it tells.

Senna to me seemed loved by everyone who watched, wanted by those who worked in the sport and envied if not slightly hated by those who ran the sport because he was not afraid to speak his mind.

I have since watched some formula one races and ask questions all the time, whos that how does that work whats in the car how do the cars work.

I now get the appeal of formula 1 but cant understand why it is not advertised to the wider audience to people like me who used to hate it. I watched a recording of the canadian grand prix my husband had and if they used that to advertise formula 1 more people would want to watch and want to know about the sports heroes like Senna and would want to see the film. I am in no doubt that many people who were reluctant to go watch senna but were forced by their sport loving partners are now the same as me asking “can I watch a race with you” “when is the next race” “where is it” and bugging their partners with questions so many times that their partners are asking why did you not watch this before and at the same time saying oh god why did I take you to that film.

I can’t wait to watch more races and listen to the stories my husband tells me about what happened in the f1 news and who this is and whats happening.

I dont care how long it takes me to learn but I will stick to it like a new hobby.”

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I saw the movie last night, and I have to say that I was distinctly underwhelmed. I’m sure of course that my view is a dissenting one, but here’s my take on it with a few observations…

– I found myself thinking that if there’s an amazing documentary to be made of Senna’s life and career, this probably wasn’t it. The actual ‘film’, while good, wasn’t top notch. (I have a close involvement with a film production company so am well used to seeing truly excellent producers and editors creating stunning work from mediocre footage, so given the wealth of material they had on Senna)

The music was barely a notch above satisfactory. Far too much 80’s sounding synth strings / rhythm sections that lacked any kind of genuine passion. How come Top Gear can, with the judicious use of stirring orchestral soundtracks, create more emotional reactions in 3 minute scenes of cars driving along a cliff edge than some of this movie generated? THe soundtrack simply was not up to the visuals.

– Far too much Brazilian commentary. This resulted in having to spend the majority of the film reading small white sub-title script. Now, I like foreign movies, and I have no fear of sub-titles. But reading engages the brain, which detracts from emotional, visceral reactions. In short, I was often concentrating too much to fully immerse myself in the ‘feeling’ of what was going on. Surely there must have been sufficient English, American, Australian etc commentary (there was barely any Murray for god’s sake!) to reduce the need for the foreign voiceovers…

– Too little was made of other interesting aspects to his career. For example – here was a slight, even skinny guy, who was better than anyone else in the world at monstering these brutish, violent cars around a track…. How did he do it? How did he train for this? Even a minute or two revealing more of his ‘trade secrets’ would have been more fascinating than some of the shots of him water-skiing…

What about his latter battles with Schumacher? This was shaping up to define the 3rd part of his career, yet apart from a barbed dig at the Benetton’s legality there was barely a reference. No shot at all of arguably his greatest drive – Donington 93… Inadequate coverage of his relationship with Ron Dennis, who clearly adored him.

– The final answer about Fullerton seemed weird and out of place. Why include this red herring when the guy has simply never been referenced prior to this? Why not have a few minutes about his legacy among other drivers… a clip of Schumacher sobbing when asked in the press conference how it felt to equal Senna’s record would have been stunning…

In short, as an F1 fan, albeit not necessarily a major Senna fan, I found myself thinking of the film that could have been… I wish I’d seen that one instead….


James – thank you and congratulations on the fantastic work you are doing not only to keep us established petrol-heads informed but of your work in spreading the net wider than the diehard F1 fans to grow the business. From what I see, you are doing more (and more productively) than almost anyyone else involved in the sport – from the FIA through to the teams and their PR/media people. There should be some form of recognition for this.

To Hayley – I have been an F1 nut for over 40 years and FINALLY dragged my wife to Silverstone for the 2000 British GP. Like you, she had previously not understood my passion and interest and found it boring, as she simply didn’t understand it. If you enjoyed the film you will LOVE the race. My wife instantly fell in love with the noise, the speed, the smell, the glamour and the fact that 100,000 people were gathered together with a common interest creating an electric atmosphere – and a Brit won the race, which just made it that bit better.

Now we live in Australia and my WIFE keeps insisting that we book in to attend next year’s Melbourne GP – she is right of course, it is a MUST DO thing but be prepared for a new passion in your life – oh, and my life has never been the same since she fell in love with Juan Pablo Montoya (she even still follows him in NASCAR, much to my dismay).


ohh come on….didn’t she know that she was gonna watch a documentary!!!



So… as a female fan (located in the US) who enthusiastically petitions any and all friends/coworkers/strangers who will listen about this phenomenal sport called F1, I am happy this opportunity was created for skeptics. I do hope this same opportunity will be extented to the US when it hits theatres in August as I will be dragging all of my friends to see it and am curious to hear their reactions. There has been much talk at the recent fan forums –of which I was one of VERY FEW females in Montreal’s– about the need to “crack” the US market and I think that the movie and compeition are a great way to rope new fans in. The fact that you and your winner have recognized it involves women as an untapped (unappreciated) market is all the much better–I have said that the female market is a perfect fit for the sport, specifically in the US. THANK YOU FOR POINTING THAT OUT HALEY…I will continue to sound my alarm for support of f1. Kudos James, Santander and Haley.


great article by Hayley.

James do you know when the DVD comes out?


Autumn I believe


Oh my god,

I only just found out about an hour ago that I had won, my husband is now jumping round like a child,

And thank you to James thank you thank you that’s from my husband and thank you to the director for his and James comment about my comments

And thank you to the people who commented above once I’ve taken it all in a will write on hear about my experience

Thank you and congrats to the others who won a prize there some great comments that I read

Speak soon I’ve got some clothes to start sorting and a husband to calm down


I reckon if we’d have actually called Isabelle Senna we would have won “for sure”!!

Thanks for setting up such a great competition James. I hope the winners have a great weekend.


LOL! Manish said that too!! No, congrats on your second place and thanks again for taking part


Congratulations Hayley!!

Have a fantastic weekend.

James, what a great competition! thank you!!



Can’t wait to read Hayley’s account of the British GP.

A few months ago, I told some friends (an “artsy” couple) in New York City about the sneak preview of Senna being held on a Saturday at noon at a small “artsy” theatre in the Village. To my surprise they went. My mistake. I’m now regularly getting bombarded with email questions about F1. They are converted fans. She possibly more than he. Because of family in Texas, they’re planning for the Austin GP next year instead of Montreal.

As of right now there will be 46 people attending the NYC meetup group for the British GP. They are two of them.


Congratulations to all the winners, especially Hayley – I really enjoyed reading your comments.

I’m lucky that my wonderful other half enjoys F1, so I am allowed to watch it at will but it would be amazing if she grew to love it as it appears you have and will.

I wanted to take her with me to see Senna (I watched it twice at the cinema and was tempted by a third screening) but she was busy every time I went.

James – you’ll be pleased to hear I did convert one friend. He still doesn’t quite ‘get’ F1 yet but I received a text on Sunday saying “nothing else on TV so giving the F1 a go” – sadly, it was Valencia.

Looks like Harry will be the one that got away.


Congratulations to the winners. Have a great time, guys 🙂


Looking forward to the movie being released in Canada in theatres.

James do you know if future DVD plans will include more footage? I’ve read that the first cut was 3 hours long or thereabouts. It would be fantastic if the DVD included a longer version of the movie.


The Japanese Blu-ray includes the longer version, but it is only the same actual footage plus the talking heads in between. I have seen the long version (downloaded, sorry) but I look forward to seeing the theatrical version when it hits theaters here in California in August. The long version felt too long, even to me an F1 fan, and not that special since it used the usual documentary technique of interviews and footage. I can’t wait to see the theatrical release as I think the fact that the entire story is told by actual footage only must make it a gazillion times better.


Great comment by Hayley, congratulations to both her and her husband!! A well deserved prize, enjoy it and let us know your impressions from the GP Weekend, pls. 😀

James, you have to think of some kind of contest for us your non UK based readers – we are a lot, aren’t we?


Yeah, we are a lot aren’t we? 😛 Thumbs up!


I second that. People from outside of the UK would be delighted! 🙂


wow well said


Wow thanks! Obviously we wanted to win but congratulations to Hayley and thanks for your comments James!

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