At the FIA’s prize-giving gala, Senna and Schumacher are sat next to each other, and during the evening, they are joined by their old rival, Alain Prost. They talk about the fateful Imola weekend, now some three and a half years ago.
— “How were you able to cope with that weekend, emotionally, Ayrton?” asked Schumacher.
— “First of all”, Senna replied, “I got a big wake-up call from that accident. I realised that I could do myself some serious damage. That we all could. But it also dawned to me that, as the senior driver, at the time, I had a special responsibility. And with the both of you, and with Gerhard and Christian, we recreated the GPDA, of course. I felt that was an important step, to stand up against the other forces, and working with them, while representing the drivers’ needs.”
— “But did the weekend change you? As a man? As a driver?”
— “From Imola onwards I was a different driver for sure. Not slower or less competitive, just different. I knew where the boundaries and limits were and I knew I had to respect them more.”
— “Still, over the next season, you and Michael had a difficult time dealing with those limits”, Prost queried.
— “That is true”, Senna admitted.
— “How would you compare your incidents with Michael with our own?”
— “That’s difficult to say, Alain. There were many factors that contributed to our rivalry.” Senna referred to the difficulties he had had with then-FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre, and decisions that the sporting commissioners had taken under his guidance. “They very much contributed to the difficulties we had.”
Then, while firmly looking Senna in the eye, Prost put his hand on Schumacher’s shoulder, and said: “Can you imagine what young drivers, back then, thought, when they saw things like that in Formula One? They will have thought they could get away with anything.”
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This — incidentally my 100th post on the site! — is an excerpt from the Senna versus Schumacher story.
It’s the final race. The Benetton driver is out; the Williams is stricken, but still going. Who will take the 1994 Formula One World championship?
On lap 70, Senna finds himself right behind Frentzen, but he also has Alesi on his tail. At the end of the Brabham straight, Senna goes for it. Frentzen doesn’t fight back and Alesi profits. Sixth place.
Eleven laps to go. Sixth would earn Senna a single point, taking him level with Schumacher in the championship standings. But the German’s seven wins over Senna’s six would grant him the title. And with Panis almost a minute up the road, it looked like the end for Senna.
Only a few more months and you’ll know…
Here’s another short excerpt from the Ascari versfus Fangio story:
At the post-race festivities, it struck Ascari that Fangio, who rarely smiled or posed for photographers, was beside himself with joy. “That was quite the race, Juan. Congratulations”, Ascari commented.
“Thank you, Alberto”, Fangio replied. “I have never driven that quickly before in my life and I don’t think I will ever be able to do it again.”
That’s an odd thing to say, Ascari contemplated when walking away from the podium ceremonies. He suspected that, maybe, Fangio was thinking about retiring. Well, if he is, this race was certainly a statement of ability — he will have gone out with a bang.
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Here’s another excerpt from the Ascari versus Fangio chapter:
Fangio started to feel like a stranger in his own team. He never felt that Ferrari could be his team. Not like Ascari had appeared to have made it his team, from the very start of the championship. He was obviously the Old Man’s favourite, being the son of Ferrari’s former team-mate and close friend Antonio, when both were employed by Alfa Romeo, and having been on the Scuderia’s roster since 1949. And not even like Collins apparently had, with Ferrari even giving Collins the prototype of the formidable 250 GT Cabriolet road car. Little did he know that it was because Enzo couldn’t stand Collins driving a Lancia Flaminia, and that Collins only had it on loan.
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Here’s another excerpt, this time from Mattijs’ Villeneuve versus Prost chapter:
Pironi wasn’t really a threat to Villeneuve in the ‘shitbox’ they had been given last year. At times, Gilles found ways to drive around it while Didier was simply lost. But now, in the car that had been handed to them by Harvey Postlethwaite, Pironi was on top of things, performing like the World Champion elect he sometimes made himself appear to be in 1980, on every occasion the Ligier was handling at its best. This afternoon, at Zolder, he was simply majestic at a track on which he had shone before. The Belgians – especially the ones feeling half French – hadn’t forgotten Pironi’s dominating 1980 win and now, two years later, he’d done it again. A Ferrari driver was finally leading the World Championship again, and it wasn’t the man driving the No.27 car. Gilles Villeneuve, for once having left his family behind in Monaco where Melanie was preparing for her first communion, felt alone. At the end of a long day he walked back to the helicopter pad, head down. It would be a long flight home.
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