Ayrton Senna through the keyhole

Extraordinary tales from the Motor Sport digital archive. This month, at home with Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna pictured at home swimming pool

Paulo Fridman/Corbis via Getty Images

F1 Retro February 2010

It’s 30 years since Ayrton Senna claimed his final F1 drivers’ crown. Snapshots of Senna, written by Mike Doodson for our February 2010 edition, features an intimate account – with incredible rarely seen photography – of grand prix racing’s ultimate gladiator in his early days and then at the height of his powers, revealing both steeliness and vulnerability.

Doodson first met Senna in 1983 when the Brazilian was racing for West Surrey Racing in British F3. His pursuit for an interview at a test before the ’84 F1 season eventually led him to staying at the Senna family home, the visit from which most of the pictures originate.

The next snapshotted scene is Senna in early ’86, two grand prix wins down but still indulging in his childhood passion of flying model helicopters. In the comfortable surroundings of Esher, Senna’s friend Mauricio Gugelmin, who was also present, waxes lyrical to Doodson about what makes his Brazilian countryman so good.

In ’88, Doodson asks Senna about religious beliefs influencing his driving, which is swiftly rebutted. The writer then composes a piece on revelations in relation to the driver’s faith, after which Doodson is excommunicated.

It’s a sad end to a relationship which began at the start of an F1 legend, but this fascinating piece reveals much about the making of its most fabled driver.

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