I will remember for some time the sense of joy that swept through the office the day we found out that Alain Prost was prepared to talk to us about Ayrton Senna. As you can perhaps imagine, this was no small matter for Prost and he made clear his misgivings about breaking his silence from the start.
That was all some time ago. Formula One team bosses are never the easiest characters to track down; even those whose team runs with chronometric precision are rarely liberal with their time and those with a struggle on their hands, such as Prost, usually have better things to do with their time than sit down and gas about the past. Add to that Prost’s understandable reservations about the story and the fact that, to do it justice, Nigel Roebuck required literally hours of Prost’s time and you’ll start to understand why it took a little more than a year’s effort from having the idea to putting the result on the shelves.
You will make your own judgement but we are proud of the story and proud that it was first told in this magazine. My hat is off to Nigel, one of only a tiny clump of journalists capable of first landing and then doing justice to such a story, and also to Prost, who had little to gain from talking, for having the guts to tell it.
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Not for the first time, I find myself in a minority of one among friends and, as is so often the case, the subject is Michael Schumacher. I won’t bang on about Spa, you know the story and Simon Taylor is infinitely better qualified to talk about such matters. I would only venture to say that, for all he does wrong – and the list is long – he no more deserves the unbalanced vilification he is receiving from the popular press than his oh-so innocent ‘victims’ deserve to be painted in such saintly robes. Schumacher is a charger, a man of passion and I give thanks for that. To me he appears more like Ayrton Senna race by race, both in and out of the car. Yet where Schumacher might shout ill-advised words at a rival, Senna was no stranger to violence. And while Michael should never have tried to win a championship by nudging Villeneuve, Ayrton thought little of ramming Prost off the track at 150mph. Is it odd, then, to see Senna deified and Schumacher so abhorred? Of course not; Senna is dead and Schumacher is German. You will, I presume, need no reminding of how useful these days the former condition is for forgetting a person’s faults and, as for the latter, perhaps Schumacher’s greatest sin of all is simply to be his country’s first truly successful F1 driver since the war.
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This is the last issue of Motor Sport that Martin Tullet will work on but unless you scrutinise our contents page, you might not even know his name. Martin is our Art Editor and the man who has been responsible for the magazine’s design since it was relaunched in April last year; it’s a body of work that says more for his ability than I could attempt to match in these words. Happily for our employers, the removal of Martin was an inside job and he takes his talents to another magazine within the group. To him we send our thanks and very best wishes and, to you, the promise that Motor Sport will continue to be the best-looking motoring magazine money can buy.