The film ‘Senna’ is about the rivalry between two great drivers.
The Brazilian, Ayrton Senna, and the Frenchman Alain Prost.
Constant rivalry over 16 Grand Prix races, every year.
That’s like doing a pitch against the same person every three weeks.
Except you’re doing it at nearly 200mph.
On a wet and greasy racetrack.
With half a ton of red-hot metal just behind your head.
Going round 10,000 times a minute.
For ninety minutes.
And if you lose concentration for a millisecond you crash.
If you’re lucky, you might live.
Senna was reckoned to have been the most gifted driver ever.
He constantly broke lap records.
He always drove the car absolutely flat out.
To, and sometimes beyond, the car’s limits.
He didn’t know any other way.
Prost was almost the exact opposite.
He was nicknamed ‘the professor’.
He wouldn’t take any risks.
Just the bare minimum necessary to get the result.
He’d avoid undue wear on the tyres, the brakes, the gearbox, the engine.
If he only needed to finish in fifth place, to get the points, then he’d finish fifth.
He’d still try to win and break the lap record doing it.
Senna was all heart.
Prost was all mind.
Before Senna started racing in F1, Prost had already won two World Championships.
In 1988 Senna became World Champion for the first time.
In that year, the rivalry was so great that between them they won 15 out of 16 races.
None of the other drivers could get a look in.
The next year, the rivalry was even greater.
Each one refused to back down.
They were neck-and-neck coming into one of the last races of the season in Japan.
For Senna to stay in contention, he had to win it.
If he didn’t, Prost would be World Champion.
Early on in the race they both refused to give way at a corner and crashed into each other.
They each handled the situation very differently.
Senna drove back onto the track.
One-by-one he passed every car in front of him.
He won the race.
It was a fantastic achievement.
Meanwhile Prost left his car where it was and walked off.
He went to talk with the President of F1 racing.
Another Frenchman, called Jean-Marie Balestre.
While Senna was winning the race, Prost persuaded Balestre to disqualify him.
Which meant Prost became World Champion.
Think about that next time you get angry about what the creative director, or planner, or client has done to your idea.
Think about how cheated you feel.
Think about how cheated Senna felt, after a year’s racing.
When he’d actually won the race, and the World Championship.
And then had both taken away from him.
Then think about what Senna did the next year.
In 1990 the situation was almost identical.
At the end of the season, Senna and Prost were neck-and-neck again.
Again the race was in Japan.
Only this time the situation was reversed.
This time Prost had to finish the race in order to stay in contention.
Again, neither would give the other an inch.
Again they crashed going into a corner.
Prost and Senna were out of the race.
But this time it meant Senna was World Champion, not Prost.
But that wasn’t the end of it.
The next year Senna beat Prost again.
And Senna was World Champion again.
And Prost had to take a year off, just to get over it.
To get over Senna proving he was the better driver.
And he would have been world champion in 89 if Prost hadn’t screwed him.
Think of that as a way to respond.