Ayr­ton Mem­o­ries

Classic Driver - - HOLMAN -

It was men­tioned in the bar at the Brew­ers Arms by the un­of­fi­cial rank of ex­perts who know ev­ery­thing about mo­tor rac­ing from a foun­da­tion of a small amount of knowl­edge and a huge amount of enthusiasm, that it was com­ing up to the 40th an­niver­sary of Ayr­ton Senna’s death.

I has­ten to add that that I’m one of the mem­bers of the Brew­ers Ex­perts. Did I know him and what sort of guy was he? I said I didn’t reckon much on him as a bloke but I had a huge ap­pre­ci­a­tion of his skill and ded­i­ca­tion.

And then I re­mem­bered that in the days when I started get­ting in­volved with F1 in the early 1960s all the driv­ers were mates and I was mates of mates but by the time a driver with such to­tal ded­i­ca­tion as Ayr­ton had ar­rived on the scene, the scene had changed hugely from the ‘mates days’. There was now huge money and it was all very se­ri­ous. It had been so dan­ger­ous be­fore but the dan­ger was al­most ig­nored, re­garded as part of the sport/game.

Senna was very much his own man. He didn’t need mates un­less he wanted them. His to­tal bril­liance was un­chal­lenged, just his cold ap­proach that seemed to bother me. Then as the 40th an­niver­sary of his death at Imola ap­proached I heard the story of his me­chan­ics find­ing a furled Aus­trian flag in the wreck­age of his car. If he made the ros­trum in the Grand Prix he was plan­ning to present the flag of Roland Ratzen­berger, killed in a crash two days be­fore, as a trib­ute he never got to make. Some­how it was a dou­ble trib­ute to the Senna I al­ways as­sumed had lit­tle room for heart.

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