Thursday, 16 February 2012

Roland Ratzenberger

A tribute to the man who died at Imola on Saturday 31st April 1994 when qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix.
His death, so often overlooked because of Senna's death the next day, was just as tragic but hardly ever heard about.  Does being a better driver mean your death is more of a loss?

Senna - the other story

Whether people were trying to stop themselves crying or they were just in deep thinking mode, there wasn't a sound from the audience watching Senna as we left the cinema.  After this initial emotive experience, I began thinking about how Prost had been portrayed in the film.   Let's face it, he didn't come off well, kind of reminding me of  Jack Lemmon's character in The Great Race, but without the comedy.

Prost on the left.  Senna is the 'good' one in the middle, played by Tony Curtis.

Having previously read about, and seen photos of, Senna taking a swing at his new young rival Schumacher...

 ...I wondered if there was another side to the way Senna was protrayed in the film.
Reading Senna versus Prost by Malcolm Folley I have found there is.  It is ironic that the pictures above show Senna threatened by the new talent on the grid, when as a young driver, he came into a Mclaren team built around Prost and took over making it HIS team, ultimately making Prost leave.   Did Prost try to bash him up?  No.
Does the film show the incident in 1987 when marshalls failed to move his Lotus the way he wanted, he got out of the car and hit one of them?
Does the film talk about the lack of testing he did on the Mclaren? Following his winning on the championship in 1988 he went home to Brazil leaving Prost to do all the testing.  Prost got just
2 weeks holiday.
Does the film talk about his inability to give in depth feedback, and make changes to the car? 
Was he a selfish driver?  After all, when he saw Williams becoming better than Mclaren he jumped ship.  When we talk about the great champions, are they really the ones who just follow the best cars, turn up and drive on the day? Or are they the ones who help and support the development of the car even if it means not winning for 4 years?
Was Senna such a great driver, or is it a case of a rosy glow because he died so tragically?...