Prost explains his objections to Senna film

Senna movie

Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, McLaren, Adelaide, 1988When the Senna film hit cinemas last year Alain Prost was widely reported not to have watched it.

This was despite Prost being interviewed for the film about his arch-rival, in which he featured heavily.

It now seems Prost has seen the film and, speaking to ITV during their coverage of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, he explained his complaints about the finished picture.

Asked if he was happy with his depiction in the film, Prost said: “Absolutely not. No I don’t agree at all.

“I’m really, I would say, upset, in a way. I tell you why in 30 seconds. Because I spent a lot of time shooting for this. I spent many, many hours trying to explain things.

“We had one Ayrton Senna before Formula One, we had the Senna when we were fighting in Formula One and we had the Ayrton Senna when I retired

“And then comes back the human side of the story with two personalities and people would understand much more what happened when we were fighting, why he was fighting like this, and would have understood much more the last three or four months where he was calling me almost once or twice per week asking me questions, asking me to go back to the GPDA, asking questions about Williams, about safety, about personal life – very big secrets that I will never tell anoybody.

“It would have been good to have that, it was all in the rush that I have done. And at the end they wanted to do a commercial thing going to the good and the bad. I don’t care too much about being the bad boy.

“But what I care is look at that. We are here in Goodwood, we have a lot of fans, it’s history of motor racing. I would have loved to have this end of the story.

“At the end of the day all of what you can see is the human side. Otherwise you have no history, you have no tradition and that is really a big shame.”

Read F1 Fanatic’s interview with Senna writer Manish Pandey on the subject of the film’s ‘bad guys': The Making of Senna part 6: The perfect bad guy?

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82 comments on Prost explains his objections to Senna film

  1. Drop Valencia! said on 12th July 2012, 9:18

    Prost is right to be upset, in the context of a Drivers championship he did nothng wrong, but if you are going to make a hero story you have to have a villain. For analytical types Prost was the best F1 driver of all time, but for people with 100% passion he is an F1 footnote.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2012, 9:36

      An F1 footnote who won 4 world titles competing on a very competative grid (Senna, Piquet, Lauda, Rosberg, Mansell, …), and could have had more if not for Renaults reliability early on.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 12th July 2012, 9:57

      Footenote?

      I was born 1984, Prost started his career in 1980 and when I started following F1, early 1990’s, it was all about Prost, Senna, Mansell and young Schumacher. I was a baby when he won WDC in 1993 but it’s a very present moment to my mind.

      • Drop Valencia! said on 12th July 2012, 10:28

        He isn’t a footnote ofcourse! But if you only watched the movie, you would think that Senna won with skill whereas Prost trickery/dislike. Alot of passionate (maybe more casual at the same time) fans think Senna was the be all and end all, and his rivalry with Prost was personal because Prost was underhanded, whereas they were getting along well after Prost retired, if rst really was a bad guy, Senna would never be buddies in retirement. PS: for me Prost is on a plinth with Shuie and Fangio.

        • dkpioe said on 12th July 2012, 13:39

          ofcourse senna’s status grew after his death, and his misdeameanors forgotten by most. if prost had died and not senna, it would most likely be the other way around. imagine in that case a movie being made called “Prost” and Senna would be labelled his evil vilian enemy. its interesting how the Senna movie approached Senna taking out Prost in the first turn at Suzuka, one of the most disgusting acts of bad sportsmanship in f1 history! imagine a Prost movie, they would tear apart Sennas character for that move. i sometimes wondered, was senna being buddies with prost after retirement purely as convienience to him – his main rival out of the way and he could use his information to his benefit, it would not surprise me if that happened, but judging by prosts words, they were friends. even alonso and hamilton are now getting along. Michael Schumacher seems like the one that holds the longest grudges but, seemingly never making up with Jaques Villenueve or Alonso.

          • Optimaximal (@optimaximal) said on 13th July 2012, 8:34

            I can understand Villeneuve, but why would Schumacher have a grudge with Alonso, especially as he beat him twice fair and square?

        • JCost (@jcost) said on 12th July 2012, 13:52

          Agree.

        • Spot on. Senna grew, whereas the filmmaker is like an adolescent frozen in a past time, shame on him for kissing up to Prost to get material then no mention of the later dialogue between Senna and Prost.

    • frood19 (@frood19) said on 12th July 2012, 12:51

      Drop Valencia said “for people with 100% passion” he is a footnote. i think people are reacting as though he said Prost was a footnote in the sport.

      personally, i think he had as much passion and desire as any of the great drivers on those incredible grids. he just wasn’t willing to risk his life in the way that Senna was, and so Senna is perceived as the more passionate.

      regarding the film, the more i think about it the more i think it glorifies Senna and villifies Prost and Balestre which kind of ruins it a bit for me, as a motor racing fan. great movie, but not a great documentary. i saw a screening which was followed by a talk by the director and he explained the editorial decisions and how they could have made 50 different films.

      my question to him should have been, why didn’t you make a longer, more balanced film, exposing the weaknesses in Senna’s character which would/could have made the film even better.

    • xeroxpt (@) said on 12th July 2012, 23:32

      actually that was the part that i enjoyed the most, apart from that i thought the documentary was really weak, especially on footage the globotv docs are much deeper.

    • PMccarthy_is_a_legend (@pmccarthy_is_a_legend) said on 12th July 2012, 23:42

      @dropvalencia! Dude i am thinking about reporting you for imbecility. Prost, one of the greatest racing drivers ever, 1 half of the greatest motor sport rivalry of all time a history ‘footnote’? are you retarded?

      • Drop Valencia! said on 13th July 2012, 1:14

        Mate – I never said he was a footnote, and he is my favourite driver! But for the “fans”, how many glowing books have been written about Prost, as opposed to Senna? There should be more about Prost – but there ain’t.

  2. Architrion (@architrion) said on 12th July 2012, 9:19

    I don’t get it… He doesn’t care being the bad boy, which is the way the film portrays him. But he didn’t like what he saw in the film…. I’m misssing something

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2012, 9:34

      its all there @architrion

      “And then comes back the human side of the story with two personalities and people would understand much more what happened when we were fighting, why he was fighting like this, and would have understood much more the last three or four months where he was calling me almost once or twice per week asking me questions, asking me to go back to the GPDA, asking questions about Williams, about safety, about personal life – very big secrets that I will never tell anybody.

      Its about part of the story being left untold, basically to make the film more flowing, maybe less confusing in its storyline

      • verstappen (@verstappen) said on 12th July 2012, 10:53

        Strange how these things work. On one hand we have lot’s of complex and even confusing movies and on the other hand stories need to be simple. Apparently.
        I would love to know more about the things Prost tells!
        And today we have Alonso who first ratted his team out to FIA and now smiles and trades helmets with his old nemesis…

        • dkpioe said on 12th July 2012, 13:49

          i cant believe the movie was so criticallly acclaimed, as a movie it was really crap i thought, i have seen earlier documentaries of Senna that were better. they all seem to play on this rivalry with prost, and usually make Prost out to be the villain, when he wasnt, often Senna was the villain, and i am sure with the huge rivalry they had it made them the racing car drivers they were at the end, they were both on each others minds a lot i am sure. i have heard Prost speak like this before and his friendship with Senna, but the media always plays the rivalry angle, even the heading of this article “Prost explains his objections to Senna film”, people see the words “Prost” “objections” “Senna” and the rivalry continues forever. hopefully people read these articles but and not just jump to the comment section and bash and bag the driver they dislike

          • vjanik said on 12th July 2012, 14:47

            i just dont get why people need to have a hero and a villain. thats not how life works. life is much more complicated and full of shades of grey. simplifying it to a hero and villain piece does not do the two guys justice.

            And it seems to me thats what Prost is saying. they interviewed him and only used the bits that would support their simplified plot. I bet Senna would feel the same way about the film as Prost does.

  3. sid_prasher (@) said on 12th July 2012, 9:22

    I didn’t understand much of what that he was trying to say…

    • tjuk (@tjuk) said on 12th July 2012, 9:38

      I think maybe what Prost is saying is that in the last 3 or 4 months of Senna’s life, after he had retired, they became closer. Friends even. Prost says that Senna would call him regularly for advice.

      So maybe with the pressure of racing against each other gone, the two were able to be more human to one another. If Senna was looking to Prost for advice, then he obviously had respect for him and his skill.

      By the time he’d retired at least then, perhaps Prost wasn’t the black and white bad guy that the film portrays.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 13th July 2012, 3:46

      I didn’t understand much of what that he was trying to say…

      +1

  4. BasCB (@bascb) said on 12th July 2012, 9:31

    Those are really interesting comments. It does come over a bit in the last part before the accident, that Senna and Prost were close (classic of two people getting close through fighting it out in sports?) then.

    I imagine it would have made it less of a story line, but possibly a more interesting movie for the big fans of F1 to include more of that chapter of Senna’s life. It would also have meant to focus more on the frustrations of not having good results and might have made it even more of a gloomy last part where everything was headed towards disaster.

    But I am glad Alain now did talk about this, showing its not about feeling himself depicted in the wrong light but about an aspect of Senna, and their relations, being left out.

  5. ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 12th July 2012, 9:43

    I assume he’s worried about how others may percieve him, and rightfully so. Sadly, as this is a film we’re dealing with, there has to be an antagoist, and Prost is perfect for that role. He was one of the few to challenge Senna in his prime, and the way he went about doing that made him a sort of Yin to Senna’s Yang. Completely different, but somehow always needing each other.

    Had I any say in the film however, Prost would be treated as a second protagonist, ala Michael Mann’s Heat. I could not bring myself to antagonize Neil McCauley in that film because he’s just doing what he does best, exactly what Vincent Hanna was doing. This is how I’ve always viewed the Senna-Prost rivalry and many others.

  6. Architrion (@architrion) said on 12th July 2012, 9:45

    All I can tell is that most of those who watched that McLaren battle and the years that follow, me included, thought at that moment that Senna was the evil guy, the ruthless_winning is all_kill to win_guy who doesn’t hesitate to throw his car on you to be the champion. That’s the way I saw it, and it doesn’t mean I was right at that time.

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 12th July 2012, 10:08

      Spot on.

      Skills overshadowed his bad guy moves, but he was far from being an angel.

    • dkpioe said on 12th July 2012, 14:00

      agree. i think they should make a Prost movie too, instead of raking in the money from one man’s death. some of these films are insults to other great drivers, as it gives the public a perseption that one particular driver is spiritually more important and better then the rest who try just as hard.

  7. Dobin1000 (@dobin1000) said on 12th July 2012, 9:56

    I don’t agree with Prost’s reading of how he is represented overall in the film, although I can understand why he interpreted it the way he did – if something is talking about you directly it must be harder to look at dispassionately.

    I think the scene of them together on the podium at the end of Prost’s final season summed up how their relationship had changed before Senna’s death, but did it without using corny Hollywood cliches. It may make it clearer to people who don’t see the subtext to have had a voiceover saying, “In the end they became close friends, and realised that underneath it all they weren’t that different…” *cue swelling emotional music*, but that wouldn’t fit with the rest of the film.

    It isn’t like after the film was released Prost has been turned into some sort of hate figure by the public, after all.

    • dkpioe said on 12th July 2012, 13:57

      but it does build up overtime with other pro-senna documentaries, and with many people not having watched them 2 raced like many of us have. movies like this viewed all around the world can influence people’s thinking, – especially new fans of f1, so even though he wasnt portrayed that badly i can understandably Prost being a bit worried by it all.

  8. nivek252 (@nivek252) said on 12th July 2012, 9:58

    I didnt think Prost came across particularly badly in the film, I felt Balestre was the villain not Prost.

    • xjr15jaaag (@xjr15jaaag) said on 12th July 2012, 10:07

      I agree; there was an element of Prost being Sennas enemy, which in a sense he was; they were rivals on track, but I too got the feeling jean-Marie Balestre was the overall villain

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 12th July 2012, 13:22

      100% agree, Balestre was the single worst influence on international mortorsports in his time at the helm (not just F1.)

      Prost came across as a brilliant driver and a supremely focused individual – just like Senna. The fact they were in the same era is simply one of the single greatest sporting stories of all time. That they ultimately respected each other with the occasional tit-for-inevitable-tat was clear to see. Seeing Alain as one of the pall-bearer’s in itself still puts a lump in my throat.

      Massive respect for Alain Prost – an absolute legend!

      • Pink Peril (@pink-peril) said on 16th July 2012, 12:15

        Agree, that is the impression from the film that resonated with me. Prost was just as committed as Senna & did what he had to do, with the villian of Balestre the looming spectre over it all. I thought the filmmakers dealt with the Prost/Senna rivalry really well without making Prost into the villian, but I can see how he would have preferred a more balanced view portrayed.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 12th July 2012, 14:00

      @nivek252 I agree entirely.

    • Jono (@me262) said on 12th July 2012, 14:25

      hear hear

    • Totally agree – and I do not believe that the film put across the dynamic between the two rivals and that they did become firm friends

    • Eric (@fletch) said on 13th July 2012, 13:01

      Agreed as well. Wasn’t Prost on the board for the Senna foundation??

    • vho (@) said on 17th July 2012, 7:56

      The only issue I had with Prost that he rode the gravy train with the FIA. The movie also seemed to portray him as a whinger – first with his running to the stewards office at Suzuka 89, and also his subsequent firing from Ferrari when he complained about his car too much. I didn’t see him as the villian, but definitely he benefitted from play the political game. But it was nice to see him and Senna get along towards the end of the film – making Prost more likeable.

  9. Hayho said on 12th July 2012, 10:24

    The way Prost makes it sound here is that Senna developed a guilty conscious within the last few years of his life for his actions during their period together. Considering Senna’s religion maybe he thought the reason why he never won the world title again for that duration was because he was having his retribution by “God” for his attitude with other people. Maybe he felt he was finally being punished for his actions in the past and that his hunger for being the best was the real enemy here and that Prost was never the evil to fight but himself.

    Maybe the reason why Prost refuses to reveal Senna’s conversations with each other signals very deep emotions that would be better untold out of respect for Ayrton and his family. I think Prost prefers to have it that way but would like to make certain before he died they were as close as you could get.

    • ftg said on 12th July 2012, 11:24

      he was religious not stupid, he knew that he lost the titles because of the Renault engine pneumatic valves and Williams active suspension

    • ramy (@ramysennaf1) said on 29th July 2013, 13:49

      senna didn’t win after 1991 because mclaren simply has gotten on the wrong side of the competitive f1 cars,not to mention 1992’s Williams’ active suspension winning year, followed by 1993 momentum of being the best car by far.

  10. maxthecat said on 12th July 2012, 12:08

    Every hero needs a villain. Strangely though for me at the time Senna was the villain but mainly because i was young and he kept beating Mansell!

    • ScuderiaVincero (@scuderiavincero) said on 12th July 2012, 12:28

      Puts you in the same boat as my elder brother, that. He was all about Mansell. :P

    • For me, Ayrton Senna will always be the villain. And I believe that without his tragic, premature death, pretty much everybody would think alike. OK, he was supremely gifted, arguably the best driver ever (personally I consider that Alain Prost was better in the dry but couldn’t compare to Ayrton Senna in the wet). But his attitude against all his fellow drivers, not just AP, was appallingly unsportmanslike and bullying. He never respected anybody and constantly crashed into everyone that tried to defend, he seemed to believe he had a divine right to come out first and that everybody should yield to him. After him something broke for ever in F1, it all changed for the worst, all the antics we have witnessed from Michael Schumacher to Pastor Maldonado would have been simply out of place in F1.
      JM Balestre was not tough enough on him, not even close. I always thought that after the Suzuka incident Ayrton Senna should have never been allowed to drive again in F1. Which would have been so much the better for him, he would surely be alive now.

      • maxthecat said on 12th July 2012, 23:31

        My opinion changed on Senna when i got close to him in the flesh in 93. He was such a friendly man to all the fans.

        I think some of what you say is right, i don’t think he would be so loved had it not being for 94 but despite all he did in pursuit of victories no one could/can deny he cared enormously for his fellow racers. He just had to hate his biggest rival, it’s how he motivated himself to those extra tenths.

        Also it has to be said, he was treated terribly by the FIA (Balestre) at times and his sometimes stupid actions where more out of frustration with them.

  11. Hairs (@hairs) said on 12th July 2012, 12:38

    I think Prost’s comments are actually pretty clear, and if you think about his statements that on the one hand he doesn’t mind being the bad guy, but on the other hand, he doesn’t like the portrayal in the film, it does make a lot of sense.

    In the film, the middle third/half of the film is all about the Prost/Senna rivalry, in which Prost clearly comes off worse. Senna’s own “difficult” tendancies are very much glossed over. Then, in practically the last frame of the film, we get treated to a “Well in the end Prost carried his coffin” which is a nonsensical way of wrapping the section up. What happened to lead to that point? How did the two drivers reconcile? We don’t find out.

    If, as Prost says, he spent months explaining that to the film-makers, and they chose to leave it all out to get a “better” story out of it, then he’s right to be displeased.

    Personally, I thought the film was good as an “f1 fan experience” but utterly rubbish as a documentary. I plan on digging out the TT film that came out at the same time, that’s supposed to be much better.

    • dkpioe said on 12th July 2012, 14:03

      it is!

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 13th July 2012, 4:05

      on the one hand he doesn’t mind being the bad guy, but on the other hand, he doesn’t like the portrayal in the film, it does make a lot of sense.

      If that’s all there is to it, then I can understand. But something tells me there is more.

      If, as Prost says, he spent months explaining that to the film-makers, and they chose to leave it all out to get a “better” story out of it, then he’s right to be displeased.

      If the “manner” in which he explained the context to the film makers, has any similarity to the way in which he explains himself above, then I wouldn’t be surprised that they chose to leave it out.

  12. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 12th July 2012, 14:02

    ….sounds to me like he doesn’t know what he wants. There is something there hidden about his relationship with Senna… a grudge…

    • dkpioe said on 12th July 2012, 14:09

      sounds more like you have a grudge against Prost. yes go and read all other articles you can find, this is the reason Prost made these comments, so people are not influenced against him in the way you might have been.

      • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 13th July 2012, 3:55

        sounds more like you have a grudge against Prost.

        Yeah sure, … I was his buddy back in the days when we used to hang out. Of course I would have a grudge! lol

        I am reflecting from what he said above. He is obviously trying to say something and holding a lot back. It is better to say “nothing at all”. But yeah, when I get time I will go and read up 10 years of history on their relationship. Or maybe I’ll just wait until Prost decides to explain himself. Maybe Prost will make his version of the Movie one day.

  13. vjanik said on 12th July 2012, 14:56

    Despite the filmmaker’s intentions to antagonize him, I find myself on Prost’s side when watching the Senna movie.

  14. Horacio said on 12th July 2012, 15:10

    I don’t think Prost have any right to be upset: his quotes on the film are pathetic. It doesn’t matter how amazing he was as a driver or how amazing were the quotes that the film left out. The truth is what Prost says in the film is rubbish. His version of Suzuka`s first crash with Senna is just ridiculous, even the reporter doing the interview needed to remind him that what he was saying was NOT true.
    Alain Prost was an absolutely brilliant driver, one of the all-time tops, in my book, but there is no question that his years will be tarnished by his friendship with Balestre, a shameful figure.
    I talked to Ayrton a couple of times, and was there for press conferences in Brazil several times. He was a humble character but his deep obsession with victory, with win, with being the first, could transform him in a very difficult guy to deal with. But I would like to say that the only teammate with whom Ayrton had problems was with Prost. In the end, I feel that Ron Dennis´s quotes say more about the internal dynamics in the team when Prost and Ayrton were there.
    All that said, Prost comments in the post ahead are very confusing, I truly can’t say that I understood correctly what he wants to say. He has the right not to like the film, anyway.
    In any case, I feel it was a privilege to witness the amazing era when Prost and Ayrton were on the track.

  15. DaveW (@dmw) said on 12th July 2012, 15:22

    The name of the film is not “Prost.” I might like to see that one, but it hasn’t been made. So his treatment was not concerns of the filmmakers, no more than that of Ron Dennis, Frank Williams, and other subjects of the movie. It’s not a documentary about F1, it’s a story about Senna told primarily in his own voice. And what do we expect a sportsman to say about his rivals beyond bromides to be edited out?

    Prost does come out looking like schmuck most of the time. But Senna does not look like an angel either at all times. Senna’s interview with Jackie Stewart and comments around the two fateful Japanese GPs stand out. The film shows all sides of him. As for Prost, his image as an imperious, intelligent “professor” took a beating. But it may just be the case that many people presumed those qualities from aloof, conniving aspects of character. That standard narrative of their conflicts was that Senna was wild man, without control of his passions, and a danger to all around him; while Prost was the scrupulous, calm master of racecraft. The movie did well to question that simplistic juxtaposition, drawn as it is over gross stereotypes.

    But In the end I think it spoke volumes that the film ends noting Prost’s continued trusteeship of Senna’s charity foundation. This is a move about real people, not superheroes. And people know that a life is defined by more than rivalries in sport a generation ago. Prost should have no hard feelings.

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