Remembering Ayrton 20 Years On…

 

April 2014 cover

Some weeks ago, before setting off on a three week business trip to Australia, I spoke at length with Anthony Rowlinson of F1 Racing Magazine.  Almost a year ago we had exchanged emails over the materials in my possession in relation to Ayrton and the interview I undertook with him and Damon Hill in the Imola Paddock Club on Sunday morning at the San Marino GP on May 1st 1994.  We spoke of my total admiration for Senna, my feelings of loss that still pervades my thoughts to this day and how we should present this material if the opportunity arose.

All credit to Anthony, he waited until this year, with 2014 marking the 20th anniversary of the death of one of the greatest, if not the greatest Grand Prix Driver of modern times to discuss the interview that is in the latest April issue of F1 Racing.

In latter years in my role as a motivational speaker and business coach, I have often been asked, ‘so who was/is the greatest driver of all time’… Fangio? Moss? Lauda or Prost? Senna or Schumacher or Clark or Rindt?  I  know not…

What I do know is that from working with eight World Champion Drivers in my full time F1 career, I would not know where to start in giving a meaningful answer as each that I have known has their skills, good and bad points and outstanding characteristics. They do have one thing in common though, they were all great fun to work with.

What I do know from my work with Ayrton Senna in our roles as McLaren and Williams employees, is that he was without doubt the most charismatic, focussed, intense, competitive and compassionate human being I have ever known and to me that matters above all else. His charm and total commitment to his art was infectious and without doubt he always got the very best out of everyone that worked with him.

In my meeting with F1 Racing’s journalist James Roberts, we spent almost two days together pouring over photographs, personal notes, my diaries and pictures and watching that 9 minute grainy video from Imola. Over dinner we were in total accord that Ayrton is still regarded as a huge influence on the sport of Formula 1 motor racing and some 20 years after his death, still regarded as someone incredibly special.

As I once told journalist, the late Christopher Hilton, the lucky people get the chance to work with pure genius once in their career.  I had that opportunity twice with Ayrton at both McLaren and Williams and for that I shall always be so grateful.

I hope you enjoy the article and interview in F1 Racing.  Some memories are stronger than ever, some have faded over 20 years, but I have tried very hard to reflect that weekend, my feelings and my emotions in it and I trust I have been as honest as it is possible to be.  If I have left anything out I apologise and to the very best of my knowledge I have been as accurate as possible and tried to reflect the comments and actions of others faithfully.

Ayrton, I still miss you, we all miss you, your teams and your friends, your family, everyone you touched in your life misses you and most of all, your fans miss you and of course, your beloved Brazil misses you.

Rest in Peace.

Special Note:

My sincere thanks go to Bernie Ecclestone for allowing me to use the actual text taken from the video for the interview – it is greatly appreciated to be able to put Ayrton’s words into the public domain after so long.

My thanks also to Gerard Saunal for allowing his pictures of me with Ayrton and Damon to be used.

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