Ron Dennis: The Rare Moment Of Senna Weakness

While I was never particularly a fan of Ayrton Senna, there is no doubt that he ranks with the very best of all time when it comes to racing drivers. He could make a car do things that nobody could, and that made him special.

As the 20th anniversary of his death at Imola in 1994 approaches, I read with great interest thoughts from McLaren boss Ron Dennis about his time working with Senna between 1988 and 1993.

I found his comments on the famous incident between Senna and Alain Prost at the 1990 Japanese Grand Prix most interesting:

“I looked at the traces (from Senna’s car), the brake and the throttle pedals, and you didn’t need to be Einstein to work out what had happened.”

“He came back to the pits, and I said, ‘I’m disappointed in you.’ He got it. I didn’t have to say any more. It was one of his rare moments of weakness. I don’t think it was anything that he was particularly proud of, but it was the finishing touch when pole position was on the wrong side of the road.”

“He said, ‘there’s no way I’m able to get to that first corner first. If I get to that first corner and I’m not able to get through, I won’t be exiting it.’ It wasn’t a great moment, but he had very few lapses in his life and he was an incredibly principled person – a great human being.”

This is a fairly clear statement that Dennis knows that Senna deliberately caused this accident. Most people probably felt so – (I know I did at the time) – but to hear this from someone like Ron Dennis is a stark admission.

Senna – a genius, but like so many geniuses, flawed.

May he continue to rest in peace.