Senna is a 2010 documentary film by director Asif Kapadia that examines the life and death of Brazilian Formula One racing legend Ayrton Senna. We start out in 1984 with his arrival to Formula One, where he spent a short period of time at Toleman and Lotus before joining the British McLaren team. It was with Mclaren that Senna rose to stardom and became a world champion. The drama which surrounds this time in his career revolves mainly around the rivalry he had with a follow teammate Alain Prost, and the issues he had with Jean-Marie Balestre, the head of Fédération Internationale du Sport Automobile (FISA). This turbulent period came to a head in the 1989 and 1990 seasons when Prost and Senna won the championship title respectively.
In the film, we see how things became increasingly hectic for Senna during his years as the world champion as he fought to improve the sport’s safety. We see the reactions he had when witnessing accidents and eventually the death of fellow racer Roland Ratzenberger, the day before his own.
Senna shares his point of view with regards to the advancements the Williams cars were making as the introduction of computers sparked their technological domination. Prost eventually joined the Williams team after refusing to be on the same team as Senna due to a falling out. After Prost retires we see Senna become the world champion with Williams in 1994, but the Formula One rules were about to change. They disallowed computerization, and the Williams cars needed to be quickly reconfigured. This change in the rules would prove to be fatal.
At the San Marion Grand Prix, we see footage of Senna under extreme stress as he became troubled by the safety conditions. Over the course of three days, there is accident after accident. During the qualifying race on the Friday, we see Rubens Barrichello injured, Ratzenberger is later killed and JJ Lehto stalls and is hit at incredibly high speed by Pedro Lamy. When racing is resumed, Senna fatally crashes on lap 7, the film comes to an end as we see all of his family and friends mourning his loss as his funeral.
Directed by: Asif Kapadia