F1 Winter Break
New film tells dramatic story of Ayrton Senna vs Martin Brundle epic F3 battle
Senna and Brundle
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Apr 2016   |  3:40 pm GMT  |  77 comments

With the focus in F1 today very much on young drivers and new talent coming into the top echelon of the sport, it is timely that a new film has come out, which tells the behind the scenes story of a legendary battle 33 years ago between two young drivers in British F3, who were springboarded into F1 the following season.

Ayrton Senna went on to become a three times world champion and many people’s idea of the greatest driver in F1 history. The man who gave him a hard time and beat him regularly was Martin Brundle who had a long F1 career – despite a terrible leg injury early on – and is today one of F1’s leading broadcasters with SKY.

The film is set around the famous 1983 British F3 season in which the pair competed for the title.

The story of Senna vs Brundle is one that was due a comprehensive telling and Mario Muth has put in the effort to bring it to life. Muth is a photographer and film maker, who has done profile videos of a number of F1 figures.

The idea came out of a conversation with Asif Kapadia, one third of the award-winning team behind the Senna movie, along with Manish Pandey and James Gay-Rees. Scenes of Senna’s pre-F1 career didn’t make the final cut of that film for various editorial reasons and Muth realised that there was a good story to tell about this special season, which didn’t have millions of witnesses.

Senna vs Brundle from Mario Muth on Vimeo.

The 1983 British F3 season was compelling; I know because I went to most of the races as a 16 year old. Growing up in the North West of England, I went to everything at Oulton Park, my local track and made regular visits to Silverstone and occasionally Donington. But this was a compelling story and so my Dad and I followed it; it was like following a football team around the UK to away matches.

It’s important for new generations of motorsport fans to be aware of the less obvious stories and this one is well worth finding out about. It’s good for Martin Brundle as it casts him in a different light for SKY F1 viewers, to realise that he went toe-to-toe with one of the greatest drivers ever. He was later team mate at Benetton in 1992 with another of the all time greats, Michael Schumacher.

Ironically, although we speak about young drivers, Senna was 23 that season and Brundle 24.

Martin Brundle

Muth says: “For the first time in one movie, 14 key people from that year recall the events that enabled Martin to jump straight into F1 and saw Ayrton properly challenged, on and off the track, for the first time in his junior racing career. This film is not just about racing and competing, it explores how important confidence is in performing at the very top level.

“The people participating in the film are Martin Brundle, Davy Jones, Calvin Fish, Allen Berg, Mario Hytten, Dick Bennetts, Eddie Jordan, Alastair Macqueen, Neil Trundle, Murray Walker, Jeremy Shaw, David Tremayne, Simon Arron and Keith Sutton. The film also features a tape recording from Ayrton from 1983, archive footage recorded that year and over 250 pictures. It is produced in 4k (UHD).”

The film will be released on Tuesday 26th April, shortly before the May 1 anniversary of Senna’s tragic death at Imola in 1994. The film will be available to download for a small fee at http://vimeo.com/ondemand/svsb.

For more information on the film go to: http://senna-vs-brundle.com

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hamilton said ‘let go.’


Slightly O/T but related to Senna’s early days.

I read a book (Crashed and Byrned) about Tommy Byrne, an Irish racing driver who raced against Senna and was by all accounts right up there with him in terms of natural gift and lap time. He was from an extremely poor background with no money in comparison to Senna’s family. He also got into trouble from time to time away from the track, so all in all wasn’t as an attractive proposition. When it came down to it Senna was picked over him for the F1 drive.

A good read I would recommend.


I remember when Davy Jones showed up for his first Formula Ford races. My step-father was an SCCA official and convinced that “no way this guy is 18”, despite documents showing otherwise. With hindsight Davy was 16 (had to be 18 to race SCCA in those days). In addition to a brand new PRS with Stimola-gold motor, Davy’s Dad had bought him fake documents! He was incredibly fast and fearless.


Thanks for this James, have have purchased and downloaded, will be my Saturday night viewing. Like so many Martin is one of those underrated F1 drivers who’s stats don’t equal their abilities, all be it for whatever reason.

Fond memories of the hot summer of 1983…


“The man who gave him a hard time and beat him regularly….”
Not exactly. I wonder if the film mentions that it was 12-7 to Senna on wins and something like 11-2 to Senna when both finished.


After having it all his own way in the first half of the season, Senna struggled in the second half of the season and crashed a lot when pushing to hard to keep up with Brundle.


Good catch, Imagine if Senna was a English….


Wow. I can’t wait to watch this! I’ve always had great respect for Martin and having never seen him race, often wondered just how good he was. He seems very humble so I’m sure he was more talented than he lets on. Also, interesting to here how you and your dad followed that season – love it!


He was much better than his career in F1 suggests I think.

No doubt another one of those “things never lined up properly” stories.

He won Le Mans too.


I was at Le Mans the year that he won in a Silk Cut Jaguar 🙂 Tom Walkinshaw was the Team Principal (manager, whatever they call them). One other thing that I recall, is some of the drivers wearing a trainer instead of a racing boot on their braking foot due to all the extra ‘work’ that foot does during the race.



Good times mate. I liked that car a lot, looked so futuristic at the time with the rear wheel arches closed off. C9 was even better though! Still one of the best cars I’ve ever seen.

Cool story about the trainers!


This is a story I knew well at the time. The pity is that Martin never seemed to be able to recapture the same performance when he went to F1. I’ve never heard him discuss it and explain why he thought it was. I thought he would become the star of F1, or at least be a very good match for Ayrton. Sadly, it wasn’t to be. Hopefully this film might tell us or perhaps James might have some insight into why it turned out like that?


The pity is that Martin never seemed to be able to recapture the same performance when he went to F1

Back in those days, and all the way up until 2010, F1 was a big step up from the feeder series. It was common for drivers who had dazzled in GP2 to come in and just not manage to keep up in F1. Truly make or break stuff. Since the “driving at 85%” era began, anybody who did well in GP2 has also gone reasonably well in F1.

I wonder, if the regulation shake-up next year really does manage make cars that are more difficult to drive, to the extent that drivers are shattered after a race, how some of the new boys will cope. Max clearly comes to mind as somebody who could potentially suffer or shine, but we’ve never seen drivers like Ricciardo, Bottas, and Kvyat handle cars designed to really be pushed either.


one of the marathon winners fell hard, banging their head on the Tarmac and still got up to win the race. very impressive..


His ‘fondness’ for the former, in Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen battle, is also probably related to these events. Anyway, would love to know more about his career.


should be fun to watch but surely there are more recent battles just as compelling if not more so..


I agree there are so many other stories to tell, hopefully this film opens up a new format for season reviews to come.


Can’t wait remember watching those races, there both use to clear off and fight it out between them some great battles .myself racing in formula ford at the time


In years to come, movie will be made about 2012 F1 season which saw different race winners in first few races, an early championship leader, a 2 time defending world champion staging a comeback later in the season, The Abhi Dhabi GP, the contact in the first corner at last race of the season and one of the greatest come backs under pressure. That season had it all.
The same can be said about 2007 & 2008 seasons


2006: Schumacher vs. Alonso


Good point

Anyone think of other classic season duels that would make a good film?


Brabham pushing the car over the line for a championship.

Collins giving up his car and a championship.


Alan Jones vs Carlos Reutteman


I actually know Neil Trundle. Lovely bloke and the ’88 season fascinated me even before Neil told me some of the dynamics going on behind the scenes. That would be my first choice, probably the two greatest F1 drivers going head to head in the same team. Aside from the action on track the human and team dynamic was fascinating.



No kidding but McLaren Honda reunion 2015 is a tale to tell by itself. 2 WC @ mighty Mclaren, one of the biggest manufacture coming back. How they coped behind the scenes, stuck together thru all the frustrations and hopefully delivering a podium this year.


1983 Piquet vs Prost
1982 Everyone vs everyone


Definitely Vettel and Webber saga, with Alonso drama as a bonus, no question about that.

Think about a juicy Mark acting in the movie, this guy is formidable. And Fernando, both gloomy buddies.


2007 – Year Of The Iceman


The drama of the 1999 season were Schumacher is out with a broken leg and no2 driver Irvine goes for the title. A better driver and slightly faster car in Häkkinen keeps running into mishaps keeping the fight alive to the last race.


Yes good one


1969 even though the points don’t reflect the competition between rindt and stewart.


1986 Mansell, Piquet, Prost and Senna. A big blowout in final race – what more would you want?!!


what more would you want?!!

From the perspective of a Mansell fan – I could have done without the big blowout 🙂


Possibly the 50th Anniversary 1999 Mika win. Irvine running him close all year due to Michaels injury & Jordans mighty 2nd place effort. Cars were awesome with those 3.0l V10.


2009 – Brawn…the clever year.
The year that began with three different configurations of cars.


2016 of course. When Lewis wins it, overhauling Nico at the last race…..classic working class kid v the posh kid. I can see it now, as they throw their arms round each other at the end, both in tears telling each other that they are best friends after all. I’ll be in tears as well.


Sorry, which ones’ working class?


@ LKFE….It’s obvious that nico is working class. he ‘works’ hard and he’s got ‘class’. simple really haha




1994 and 2010 also come to mind.


1994, Schumacher and Hill?


Surely the 1982 season…


Hamilton Vs Alonso at McLaren seems the obvious one to me.


Did MB hurt the leg at Monaco 1984?

Do you think it slowed him down? I’ve heard him say that he has never been right since. That something changed.


Baby Senna


Apart from Senna, the other
future F1 world champions who have won versions of the British F3 title (which wasn’t consolidated into a single championship until 1979) were Jim Clark (1960), Jackie Stewart (1964), Nelson Piquet (1978) and
Mika Hakkinen (1990).

The 2009 and 2010 champions were Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne.


Great for Martin and F1. I just hope it’s not the one sided affair the “Senna” film was. It’s hard to watch when you know some of the facts.

“Death makes angles of us all and gives us wings smooth as ravens claws”.


Depends upon your angel of attack….


Just noticed that. Very good.


I very much tried to be pretty balanced and the film gives all parties a chance to tell their side of the story… but you should judge yourself, hope you like it.

Rubinho's Keyfob

That would be a cute quote if it wasn’t so obtuse.

I’ll get my coat.


Quick reflex reaction . . .


there’s more than a degree of truth in what you say 🙂


“Senna wasn’t the most complete driver as I think that label belongs to Michael Schumacher, but in terms of raw speed and a sixth sense for where grip was at a corner before he drove through it, Senna was the best.”


wait, Schummacher was better than Senna? Why?? Only because he had more lucky and lived more time to get 7 championships? Sorry you dont know nothing about F1. Schummacher never had to beat teammates in the same team. Come one! Schummacher era,was more easier than Senna s time


@ Steve

But it was Brundle who said this and he raced against both Senna and Schumi


Interestingly Alasdair Macqueen talks about exactly that in the film, Senna knowing where the grip was before going into a corner. Martin at another point compares Michael and Ayrton, concluding that Ayrton was driven by his heart, and emotions being is his source of energy and Michael is more driven by his head, getting all the pieces aligned requiring him to be fast.


@ Mario

Aah so you have watched the film already. That’s perfect


I made it…


I think he *made* the film! So yes, he would have watched it already 😉


@ Jim

Aah yes, that would explain it


that is right, I did make it. it is very interesting how different Michael and Ayrton approached racing, but both came to have lots of success, it is still such a big loss that they could not continue to fight on the track.


@ Mario

Well done.

And yes, I agree 1994 was so sad on so many levels more so if you consider what Aryton could have done in the Williams if Damon was able to take the fight to the last race


Oh, I forgot to add that this quote was from Martin Brundle


Hmm…………one of the races for the UK Formula 3 championship was held at Silverstone held on the GP weekend – in fact held on the morning of race day, 16 July. For some reason or other, the race then was held on a Saturday, and it was stinking hot – as muggy and humid as a sauna with temperatures well up in the mid 30s. I mention that because Senna won the race (just) from MB, and after winning the race there’s a rare photo of him watching the race, his skinny frame clad in very Brazilian style tight white shorts.

The Brazilian doubtless that weekend under the sweltering Silverstone sun made quite an impact on Formula 1 team bosses – one for his driving prowess and secondly for his eye catching budgie smugglers.


The British GP was originally held on Saturdays.

I think the first British GP to be held on a Sunday was in 1976, it was inconsistent for a few years, and 1983 was the last year it was held on a Saturday. Can’t remember why it wasn’t a clean transition from Saturday to Sunday, perhaps James Allen knows.


I send a question asking why my comments are taking an extra day to appear on the new system (an improvement on mostly never appearing on the previous system), and then that post is met with an immediate “Comment deleted”…? I’m posting from the same device every time, so that’s not the issue in my particular case.


Not sure why but yours ended up in Trash folder, along with some others.

It’s strange it started a couple of days ago. We’re looking into it.


Happy hunting!

But the “Comment deleted” stuff is a second issue — unless the Trash folder scenario is the same as all my other comments not appearing till a day later than other folks’ comments with similar time-stamps, and if I only saw that “deleted” response perhaps because I was commenting to my own comment??


Thanks, James – appreciate the information and the website address for the film. Keep up the good work.

Still trying to get used to this “new” format as well.


It’s got some quirks, but overall I think it’s much, much better 🙂


Apart from the “star” rating – which implies quality but merely reflects quantity – I agree.

It’s odd to see a commenting system that veers so far from what most people expect to see. I appreciate the work that went into it, but speaking as someone who is involved with building websites for clients, the star system is a very poor design decision.

And what’s more, we were asked for our opinions; most people who expressed a preference said they didn’t like the “star” rating…. and nothing has changed. So I wonder why we were even asked.



It’s not a rating system at all. It shows the level of contribution for each poster. It certainly doesn’t reflect quality.

The “thumbs up” rating system at the bottom of each post is a much better system in my opinion. You can only use it once and it stops some of the negativity allowed with the old system.

Much better in my opinion. The designer in me really can’t get on with the HUGE names however…


Awesome. Will be watching that when it comes out. Great Article


James, back in that era I remember coming across Brundle sleeping in some crappy car in a parking lot at a race, I assume to avoid hotel costs like a lot of us race fans did, but it might have been a wet tent he was avoiding! He was also busting his backside to get support for his racing. Pretty sure it was before the season in this movie. I have always believed that ANYTHING Martin has achieved in life he did the hard way, damn hard work and deserves everything he enjoys today! He was a stand up guy way back then. Hope this movie portrays that person. The person I remember meeting. I feel he realized that getting ahead was not going to be achieved by ego and everyone and anyone might be able to help him make the next step. So he took the time to talk and showed his enthusiasm and commitment to racing. I admired Martin as a driver and for his friendly demeanor off the track. Only seen him on TV since that time, but he made a positive impression on me! Watched Senna race many times. Never got to talk to him to see what he was like in person.. Would have been nice to gauge the difference between the two. It will be a really nice trip down memory lane to watch this. Thanks for the info.

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