Skip to main content

F1 great Prost's regret over Senna film

By Paul Gittings, CNN
December 6, 2012 -- Updated 1102 GMT (1902 HKT)
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were long-time rivals before they became teammates at McLaren. Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost were long-time rivals before they became teammates at McLaren.
Winning pair
Suzuka showdown
Uneasy rivalry
Rivalry boils over
McLaren dominance
The Professor
Monaco master
Good times
Imola tragedy
Senna mourned
The young pretender
From four to two wheels
  • Alain Prost's portrayal in film 'Senna' his biggest regret
  • Prost and Senna were arch rivals while driving for McLaren
  • Prost says they had made up their differences by the time Senna died
  • Film's producers defend their editorial judgments

(CNN) -- Formula One legend Alain Prost has just "one big regret" -- his portrayal in an award winning film about his arch rival -- the late, great Ayrton Senna.

Four-time world champion Prost battled the Brazilian for title supremacy while they both drove for McLaren with their rivalry reaching its peak in the finale to the 1989 and 1990 seasons

So much so that incidents on the first corner of races at Suzuka in Japan saw the pair force each other off the road.

Prost was the beneficiary in 1989 after Senna, who was able to carry on, was controversially disqualified to give the Frenchman the world championship.

Twelve months on, Senna's ruthless move on Prost, who had quit McLaren to drive for Ferrari, gave him the crown in a reversal of fortunes and left the men at odds.

CNN Greatest F1 Driver: Day One
CNN Greatest F1 Driver: Day Two

Prost, who won his final world title in 1993, had retired by the time Senna was killed at Imola in the San Marino GP of 1994.

Fateful weekend

No one has died in F1 racing since that fateful weekend and it provided the producers of the movie with a chilling conclusion which left many film goers in tears as they left cinemas.

But Prost, who co-operated on the award winning film "Senna", is unhappy that his subsequent reconciliation with Senna is not featured.

"The only regret that I have in my career is to see this kind of film that we are having on Ayrton," he told CNN in an exclusive interview for The Circuit.

"You need to tell everything right, correct, and you need to accept that you can have some qualities, some faults and one cannot be white and the other black.

"I am very disappointed about that because it would have been good at my age to have shown to the people, to the world, that it was a little bit different.

"But for me, inside me, I know what happened, I know the story, I know how Ayrton was just before his accident after I retired, I keep that for me. "

Senna scriptwriter Manish Pandey defended Prost's portrayal in the film but admitted it was "very, very diffficult to compress those 10 years (of the F1 legend's career) into 100 minutes."

He told CNN: "Alain (Prost) was very kind in giving us time and we put seven examples of reconciliation between him and Ayrton at the end of the film."

Biggest regret

Pandey also revealed that they had tried their best to insert a video clip of a lap by Senna in which he drove the Imola track and did a commentary for French TV station TF1 (for whom Alain was broadcasting) saying '"To my friend, Alain. We miss you Alain."

CNN Greatest F1 Driver: Day Three
CNN Greatest F1 Driver: Day Four

But the clip was muffled and unusable in the context of the end of the film, he claimed.

In a doubly tragic weekend for F1 back in 1994 at that Imola race, Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger had been killed in qualifying on the Saturday.

Read: Fangio vs. Senna: Who is the greatest Formula One driver of all time?

Senna drove in the race with a small Austrian flag in his race suit, which he was going to wave to honor Ratzenberger, at the finish to show the unity of F1.

"If we omitted something, it was this more than anything else. And we tried to get it in, but the footage wasn't there," Pandey said.

"Sporting rivalries, who did what to whom, who was disqualified, who won a trophy - all of that pales into utter insignificance in the context of the bigger story.

"Senna is not a film about a sporting rivalry, because we would have called it 'Senna vs Prost' and started it later and ended it earlier, if it was. The rivalry was an important element in our story - but it was just one of many."

Prost is still intensely proud of the era which saw the pair dominate F1 racing.

"Today if you say Prost you say Senna. It is part of the F1 history and in my opinion is maybe the best years."

Different characters

In a recent poll by CNN, Prost was mentioned in dispatches by viewers in our quest to find the greatest F1 driver of all time, with Senna and Argentine maestro Juan Manuel Fangio acknowledged as the best of their eras.

Prost believes that he and Senna were unwittingly the victims of their own success and did not receive the protection they deserved from the media and sponsors.

"We were very much exposed," said the Frenchman.

"We had a lot of people who were very interested, very motivated to have this kind of story.

"We did not realize that at the time. We just wanted to win but we had different characters and a different way of thinking and racing."

Read: Just how good is Sebastian Vettel?

Despite the obvious dangers, Prost would not swap his experiences with those who make up the modern day F1 grid.

"If you are racing like today with almost no risk and you can continue until you are 44 or 45 years old like Michael (Schumacher), for sure it is tempting.

CNN Greatest F1 Driver: Day Five
Alain Prost calls for French GP return

"You need to remember that there was a very bad period when you went out on a Sunday morning and say what's going to happen today?

"Am I going to be able to come back because we had very bad accidents, very regularly.

"I would have loved to have driven in this period, working with the engineers on the technical side, but no, I prefer my period. "

But Prost remains deeply unhappy about the balance of the Senna film and in particular the closing moments.

Greatest drivers

"What I regret is that our story was more than sport, it was also human," he told CNN.

For all that, Pandey is convinced they did the story justice in a balanced and fair way

"Look at their body language after Ayrton's last win at Adelaide in '93 -- warm, all smiles, a tap on the knee. Then the coming together on the podium. Then Alain's disbelief after the accident.

"Then Alain, clearly in shock, drinking a cup of water. Alain is the last and, in a way, the most important person to cross himself at Ayrton's coffin - the sadness all over his face, the badge on his lapel clearly marked 'A' (A for 'Amigo', friend) - and Alain is the main pallbearer.

"Finally, we end by saying that Alain is a trustee of the foundation."

Part of complete coverage on
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
The big winners of this Formula One season could be road drivers rather than F1 racers, according to one former world champion.
March 14, 2014 -- Updated 1730 GMT (0130 HKT)
The Williams team welcomes the biggest rule changes to Formula One cars for a generation.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1916 GMT (0316 HKT)
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton sums up the dawn of a new Formula One era in three juicy words -- weird, mind-blowing and challenging.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1216 GMT (2016 HKT)
Formula One is taking another step in its techno evolution this season, which could be more unpredictable than it has been for a long time.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 2255 GMT (0655 HKT)
Susie Wolff
Despite being a sport well into its seventh decade, only two women have ever driven in Formula 1 but Susie Wolff hopes to become the third.
February 24, 2014 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
Jann Mardenborough on the similarities and differences between driving a race on a video game and driving a real F1 car.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 1226 GMT (2026 HKT)
Russia's President Vladimir Putin watches the men's cross-country 4 x 10km relay event at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on February 16, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ RIA-NOVOSTI/ POOL/ MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
How Russian president Vladimir Putin helped turn a muddy hole in the ground into a $400 million futuristic grand prix track in Sochi.
February 21, 2014 -- Updated 0013 GMT (0813 HKT)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (R) and Formula One racing director Bernie Ecclestone talk during a ceremony of signing of an agreement to bring Formula One racing to Sochi for a Grand Prix Russia to be held in 2014, the same year the Black Sea resort hosts the Winter Olympics in Sochi on October 14, 2010. Putin, whose backing was crucial in Sochi winning the right to host the Games, is due in the city on Thursday to sign an agreement for work to begin on the construction of a new 200 million dollar circuit. AFP PHOTO/ ALEXANDER NEMENOV (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)
Vilified by the the international community for his government's attitude on gay rights, Russian president Vladimir Putin has found an ally.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1217 GMT (2017 HKT)
CNN's Rosie Tomkins speaks to Caterham F1 owner Tony Fernandes on the team's driver line-up for 2014.
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1613 GMT (0013 HKT)
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is bidding for a fifth consecutive drivers' championship in 2014.
He is Formula One's undisputed No. 1, and next season Sebastian Vettel will have proof of that fact emblazoned on his Red Bull.
December 4, 2013 -- Updated 1633 GMT (0033 HKT)
A new era of F1 looms large on the horizon in 2014, but what do the new rules mean for how we watch the sport? Get up to speed here.
October 17, 2013 -- Updated 1056 GMT (1856 HKT)
Explore our interactive of one of F1's most important and complicated pieces of kit.