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. Jack Flash said on 12th July 2012, 15:24

    I wonder whether Alain Prost was making his views on the Cinema Version of “Senna”, or the Extended Edition Version of “Senna”.

    There is a big difference to the edited content of Alain’s contribution in interview content between the two. In the cinematic version, very little of the interview content from Alain addressing the later respectful friendship he and Senna shared is shown. That very much devolves the story to between Senna and Prost to a adversarial one alone, when it is truly much more than that (especially in the final 6 months before Imola 1994). I would learn that from the Extended Edition version.

    In the Extended Edition version of “Senna”, there are a lot more of the poignant and personal interview material from Alain. A lot of significant comment from Prost on not only the Formual 1 side of his relationship with Senna (competitor, team-mate, nemesis) over the years, but also the eventual development of their very real friendship and mutual respect. Alain describes how their scope of relationship changed so dramatically. That really developed after Prost retired at end of the 1993 season, and in the 6 months leading through to Imola 1994.

    I can quite imagine that even the Extended Edition of “Senna” does not contain half of the interview material provided by Alain Prost. I guess the cinema version chose to artistically keep a style of Senna life/racer/tragedy storyline, and needed to keep the running time down too. Hence the interview material were trimmed maximally. The personal and humanistic side of the Senna/Prost story didn’t fit into the simplified good guy / bad guy rivalry plot for the cinema film production.

    I can say to Alain Prost this (if he is ever likely to read this): I was a very dedicated fan of Ayrton Senna, from the first time I saw him race the first time in person at the Adelaide F1 GP in 1985 for JPS Lotus. I still am very much in awe of my F1 idol still now. However, I wrongly bought into the F1 Journalist’s portrayal and adversarial demonisation of the Senna/Prost battles, on track and off, over the ensuing years; taking Senna’s side of course. I was wrong to buy into that. Very misguided by the cheap trash sold by the sensationalist story vendors of the F1 circus. Prost was not just a brilliantly skilled and champion F1 driver, but a very decent guy. The Extended Edition of this film brought me to this epiphany at last.

    Alain Prost should take heart at the legacy of ‘clearer understanding’ he brought within the Extended Edition “Senna” film. JF

    • Hairs (@hairs) said on 12th July 2012, 23:37

      If that section is much more meaningful, insightful and helpful, the filmmakers should have put it in the theatrical cut. They didn’t, and just like the endless remakes of Blade Runner, you can’t argue “this is the real film” after the fact.

      Which is what Prost’s complaint is.

      • Jack Flash (Aust) said on 14th July 2012, 5:12

        I agree Alain Prost has a reason to feel a little aggrieved at the Cinematic Version of “Senna”, for the exact reasons pointed to. I was just explaining that at least some of the “real picture” came out in the other special edit version. JF

  2. Gubstar said on 12th July 2012, 17:28

    It was a film about the man, not the rivalry, or the sport. I was a fan of both drivers. It is not a case of “who had more passion” or “who was the better driver”, or even “who was the bad guy”. Ayrton had a mystique about him, and if you speak to anyone who was around at that time they will tell you that he had incredible humility, and generousity. There was a BBC documentary made for the 60th anniversary of the sport, and Alain’s comments in that tell you a lot. When asked, he says that Ayrton was “different from the rest of us”, and he says it in a kind of “loving” way. And I think the incredible things that he has acheived outside of the sport, even after his passing, with the foundation, and how many thousands of young lives that has transformed, this is why there was a need to tell the story, especially from Ayrton’s point of view. This is why Alain and Ayrton ended up so close once the rivalry stopped, because Alain knew that, yes he was intense, when battling, but outside of the sport, he was one of the greatest examples of a human being our species has produced. And the reason that the film focused a lot on the rivalry is because the rivalry transended the sport, so it was better than any hollywood script writer could produce.
    But the man himself……..well to say that 3 million people turned out to see his coffin go through Sao Paulo, and that his grave is visited by more people in a year than JFK, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley combined tells you all you need to know about what an impact a “simple racing driver” had on the planet.
    They were both great men, both great racing drivers
    Their rivalry, is one of the greatest that SPORT has ever known.

  3. Lothario said on 12th July 2012, 18:09

    I agree with Prost, being an apparent ‘bad guy’ will hurt. Especially when you are not..

    • disgruntled said on 13th July 2012, 0:49

      May I quote the great man ‘ I think everyone knows Prost by now. He is always complaining about the car or the tyres or the team or the mechanics or the other drivers or the circuit’….and in 2012 may I add the Senna movie :)

  4. claudioff (@claudioff) said on 12th July 2012, 18:55

    I am pretty sure that he will be more contented when “Prost, the film” is released. Unfortunately for him he will be spectacularly dead by then.

  5. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 13th July 2012, 2:31

    I’m not surprised that Prost doesn’t like the way the movie portrays him, and he has every right to be mad. He doesn’t mind being the bad guy, but the movie almost seems to have a grudge against him, and leaves an untold part in the dark.

    In my opinion Senna is only the good guy because of his death. His career storyline was much more emotional than Prost’s and that’s the only reason to why most people rate him higher. If Senna hadn’t died, Prost would be rightfully rated higher than him as he out-scored Senna in both seasons they drove together at Mclaren; which is often overlooked and ignored.

    Meh, Prost will always be the superior driver in my eyes, and statistics back it up.

    • Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 13th July 2012, 4:34

      In my opinion Senna is only the good guy because of his death. His career storyline was much more emotional than Prost’s and that’s the only reason to why most people rate him higher. If Senna hadn’t died, Prost would be rightfully rated higher than him as he out-scored Senna in both seasons they drove together at Mclaren; which is often overlooked and ignored.

      Some of what you say makes sense. I too believe that Senna’s death considerably exaggerated what people thought about him. At the same time, it shadowed Prost’s accomplishments. This continues to happen even today. But there is obviously something we don’t know about Senna, that only Prost knows – maybe his vulnerability. However, despite his inability to explain himself very well, I rate Prost the same as Senna.

    • davidnotcoulthard said on 5th August 2012, 11:26

      I’d say Senna might have been the faster driver, but Prost was better as a racing driver, which involves more than just being a driver.

  6. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 13th July 2012, 20:11

    I didn’t see Prost as a villain. I’m smart enough to realise this is a competitive sport!

  7. vho (@) said on 17th July 2012, 7:37

    I finally got to watch the whole Senna movie last week with my wife as well. Absolutely enjoyed it even though the heartache was unbearable towards the end. It was edited in a way that it could attract non-motor facing fans – and the way it could do that was to portray a villain and a hero.
    You could say Senna’s sportsmanship was questionable at times – but I believe it’s how he learnt to play the F1 game. With Balestre favouring Prost it seemed for Senna to be fighting against all odds to win. I was at disbelief that not only did Senna get disqualified for Suzuka in 89, he copped a 6month ban and $100K fine – and if you looked at the replays it was Prost who turned in early, and the only option for Senna to continue was to go down the emergency road – Nelson Piquet highlighted this issue in the 1990 Suzuka driver’s meeting. The incident with Prost in 89 was a racing incident to a certain degree, but to be labelled as a dangerous driver for that particular move is idiotic. Prost didn’t do himself favours for riding that gravy train too – the best he could’ve done was to shut up and move on the fact that he’d won the WDC with a favour from a fellow countryman. 1990’s Suzuka race was also marred by the FIA’s last minute decision to change the pole position to the dirty side of the track – yet again to favour Prost. Senna was right to be ****** off and duly stated that he wasn’t going to be ****** again by the FIA. I don’t think Senna’s move to take out Prost was in the sole purpose of hatred against Prost but rather a signal to the FIA that if it dirty tricks are going to be played then he’ll take things into his own hands. I am at a loss as to how a governing body such as the FIA could behave in a way to favour a particular driver. And without trying to make excuses for Senna, it is this kind of behaviour that breeds unnecessary friction between drivers and tempts them to make irrational decisions on the track.
    I wasn’t a Senna fan in the early days but definitely when the McLaren wasn’t the fast car going around. Not too dissimilar to Alonso’s current achievements with Ferrari; Senna took wins from the far superior Williams Renaults. I can still remember watching the on-board of Senna when he still had a clutch and stick shift while the Williams were using semi-auto/paddle-shifts.

    • Phylum (@phylum) said on 4th December 2012, 10:46

      I remember this well. The suzuka 1990 incident can’t be seen isolated, one must remember the FIA decision to change the pole side and the earlier incident (Suzuka 1989).
      By taking out Prost, Senna sends a message to FIA that he would take any more bullying by their part.

  8. C.P. Kelley said on 3rd November 2012, 9:05

    Ultimately, was there enough time in the movie to explore the extremely complex relationship between Senna and Prost? F1 is, I believe, the most ruthlessly competitive sport in the world, where literally anything is used to get ahead, including politics. Did Prost fight ‘dirty’, when necessary, in seeking to win “every single anything”? Yes. Did Senna? …Yes. That’s what F1 -is-. And that’s what Senna and Prost were: two of the greatest of all time (yes, I would rank Senna #1, given performance in equal cars), “alphas among alphas”, fighting to be Absolute #1. Bill Simmons, one of the most influential writers in American sports journalism today, has a simple but effective term for it: “sports-hating someone”. Usually fans, but drivers can do it too, if so-and-so is THE Rival, etc.
    And yes: it is a mistake of the film to overlook this fact. Prost didn’t have to be the Villain; he had to be the Rival.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 3rd November 2012, 9:40

      Prost didn’t have to be the Villain; he had to be the Rival.

      That’s how I thought the film played it. For me, Balestre was cast as the ‘villain’.

  9. Documented said on 16th February 2013, 17:26

    If i was Prost, I must be quite, in silence…As we saw in “Senna movie”, as much Prost talks, worst for him…More of Prost is revealled…Beware, Prost: the cameras are on

  10. ramy (@ramysennaf1) said on 29th July 2013, 13:50

    the scene where prost asks senna if there can be joint winners sums it up as prost knew that senna was pipping him to the world best driver…

  11. Nailin’ my proverbial colours to the mast at the outset of this post, I would like to say my dream podium of all time would undoubtably include J.Clark, JM Fangio and a certain Mr A.Senna on the top step. Special mention should also be made of Tazio Nuvolari – reading of his exploits will often amaze, and have the hair literally standing up on the back of your neck!

    I guess I love genius and god-given talent. In this context sublimely skilled, no-nonsense hard ‘n’ fast racers ……guys that drive for a win, and not points, to put it politely!

    So, it truly saddens me to read some of the comments left here on this particular discussion …one that I’ve obviously come to late – but via my ‘latest’ viewing of the Senna film last night on ITV.

    I’ve followed Formula 1 for more years than I care to remember …probably 40 plus years to put a rather scary figure on it – knee-high to a grasshopper supporting a certain blue Elf Tyrell and it’s driver.

    As someone who has truly loved the sport, I have watched numerous films/documentaries and read countless books about teams, drivers, circuits and cars etc …and visited many Grand Prix all over the world. I make a point of mentioning this because I’d like to think I know a little about the sport I’ve followed for four decades.

    More importantly perhaps I’ve had the great pleasure to know many impassioned and knowledgable folk outside and inside of the sport itself; and had the enormous privilege to work on a project with a certain Foundation …one which does, and continues to do, exemplary work for very poor and underprivileged children.

    Thay say you can tell a lot about a man from the friends he keeps. I’d go even further and say… you can tell as much, if not more, about a man from the heroes he covets!

    When all is said and done, I relax now more than I’ve ever done in the past, when I read downright ignorant thoughts and opinions about Senna – who importantly – if you can tell – was probably a far, far greater man than even being the greatest racing driver of all time!

    I’d like to conclude by respectfully asking the readers of F1 Fanatic a double-headed question…

    Who would really ever make a film of Alain Prost …and who would ever want to watch it?

    Kind regards


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