McLaren’s Ayrton Senna book reviewed

F1 reviews

Joining the clutch of new books on Ayrton Senna to mark the 20th anniversary of his passing is this product from McLaren which carries the endorsement of the Ayrton Senna Institute.

Written by the hugely experienced F1 journalist and author Maurice Hamilton, there’s every reason to expect it would be a cut above a lot of the writing on Senna. In the two decades since his death Senna has become by far the most widely discussed F1 driver, and that over-exposure has led to a plethora of uninteresting biographies.

Bearing the McLaren logos on its cover, you’d be forgiven for assuming this book gives an account of Senna which is weighted towards his time at the team, or perhaps even ignores the rest of his career altogether.

For the most part that isn’t the case. Senna’s early years are covered in considerably detail than in many other books about him. But the concluding chapter on his tragically brief post-McLaren life is short and mainly focused on the memories McLaren team members have of him.

The same balance applies to the photography – LAT and Getty’s archives have been raided and the 200-plus pages are liberally illustrated with colourful images from the entirety of Senna’s career.

But inevitably there’s more than one new book on Senna competing for your shelf space. Tony Dodgins’ Ayrton Senna: All His Races earned top marks when reviewed here previously.

Ayrton Senna by Maurice HamiltonMcLaren’s offering suffers in comparison for being a less comprehensive account of his life. That said, it tells some new and noteworthy tales gleaned from McLaren staff who had first-hand experience of working with Senna.

It’s telling that the author steers clear of commenting directly on some of the more contentious aspects of Senna’s career. At these points – Imola ’89 and the Suzuka episodes – chunks of the relevant Autocourse reports are quoted instead, and it’s not hard to see why that might leave readers feeling short-changed.

McLaren has moved into book publishing in a big way recently and several of their products – The Drivers, The Wins and The Cars – are easy to recommend. The same would be true of this if there weren’t another new book available at a similar price point which offers a fuller account of Senna’s career.

But of there’s one thing the F1 book market doesn’t lack it’s books on Senna. No doubt in five years’ time another crop will appear. Hopefully before then someone will find time to pen a few words about one of his rivals.

If this were to serve as the starting point for a series of books from McLaren on their past champions – such as Alan Prost, Niki Lauda and Emerson Fittipaldi – I’m sure many F1 readers would appreciate the change of focus.

F1 Fanatic rating

Rating four out of five

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Ayrton Senna – McLaren

Author: Maurice Hamilton
Publisher: Blink
Published: April 2014
Pages: 256
Price: £35
ISBN: 9781905825875

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17 comments on McLaren’s Ayrton Senna book reviewed

  1. maxthecat said on 18th May 2014, 11:56

    Not sure how i feel about this sudden rush of people trying cash in on Ayrton’s death. I would assume a good chunk goes to the Senna Foundation?

  2. Maksutov (@maksutov) said on 18th May 2014, 12:36

    No disrespect intended to the legend, but all these Senna books is getting a bit boring. The only other Senna book I’d be interested to read is one written by his rivals and/or other team mates/drivers at the time, such as Alan Prost. Because that will reveal more of his true personality.

  3. Petros (@peterpan) said on 18th May 2014, 19:33

    Εxcellent book – dont miss it!!!!!!

  4. davros said on 18th May 2014, 23:40

    Being a Mclaren book I’m sure they’ve gone to the trouble to airbrush the Marlboro logo out of most of the photos.

  5. Klon (@klon) said on 18th May 2014, 23:47

    It’s telling that the author steers clear of commenting directly on some of the more contentious aspects of Senna’s career. At these points – Imola ’89 and the Suzuka episodes – chunks of the relevant Autocourse reports are quoted instead, and it’s not hard to see why that might leave readers feeling short-changed.

    What? Cutting out the parts of the story that ruin the necrophiliac cult of personality? What a surprise.

    I for my part have gotten sick of the Senna cult a looooong time ago and no book can be good enough to convince me otherwise.

    • jack said on 19th May 2014, 2:28

      Your comment is just disgusting, if you don’t like something just don’t follow or at least present your opinion in a reasonable manner. There are numerous things to be followed in the sport, ranging from very technical aspects of the technology used, to the drivers character “Kimi being a modern example” is there someone holding a gun to your head? or you go around all of them insulting those who do, thinking you are sounding “cool” and independent.

      • lucho19 (@lucho19) said on 19th May 2014, 6:15

        +1. Well said Jack.

        • LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge) said on 19th May 2014, 14:13

          -5
          Because not everybody is Senna fan(atic). I don’t have to read anything, I just open random F1 page and I get Senna shoved down my throat. If I watch random F1 video You Tube, I know that most of the comments will be Senna this Senna that.
          I for one agree with @klon. Too much, is too much and I don’t care if the guy is dead and I don’t feel the need for political correctness.
          Some things must be said in a way that they were meant to be said and not wrapped in a tin foil for some Senna fan(atic) to be offended. Not you neccessarily.
          Regards.

          • Klon (@klon) said on 19th May 2014, 21:01

            @for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge
            Thanks for the support. I know my choice of words was a bit crass, but as you said, it sometimes just need to be let out.

            I would probably not even mind the Senna exposition as much as I do if most fans or “experts” were not so quick to wipe his mistakes under the rug. He was an interesting personality and an amazing driver, it’s not like he was some random scrub who got hyped for the sake of hyping things. It’s just that he was not some sort of Racing Jesus who died for our F1 sins, which is how most people seem to see him.

          • Asanator (@asanator) said on 20th May 2014, 16:12

            +1000

    • Darryn Smith (@darryn) said on 19th May 2014, 9:03

      You may want to also skip the vomit inducing “The Death of Ayrton Senna” by Richard Williams. I lost track of how many times Saint Ayrton was referred to as “the great man”.

      • Jack said on 19th May 2014, 21:10

        Lol, did you stumble on that randomly? Im trying to picture here “on no i’m tired of hearing about Senna, Ecclestone wealth rises, Ferrari caption competition, books about Senna ohhnm I wonder what that is about? “oh no not again!”. Walking in the library huckleberry Finn, world war 2, The Death of Ayrton Senna, not again another book about Senna that I have to read, dammit how often they gonna refer to him as great man, 5, 6 … lost count… why can’t I stop reading noooo”. Back home on the news blog another Senna biography, “nooo I just paid my debts, why are they doing this to me”

  6. sato113 (@sato113) said on 19th May 2014, 9:18

    are there any books on Roland Ratzenberger?

  7. Garns (@) said on 19th May 2014, 13:56

    @Maksutov
    To be honest do you really think the best book about the “true personality” of Ayrton could come from Alain Prost, his main rival who for quite a few years hated each other? If you were (or are) a Prost fan would you pick up a book called “My thoughts on Prost” written by Ayrton Senna??

    I am a massive Senna fan but am under no illusions to think he was a saint- Prost was not either and don’t forget Schumi on Hill in Australia in 1994- they all make mistakes! I have read all the Senna books at my deposal, and yes, its all been said, except for maybe where he was heading as a person to help the poor people in Brazil at the time (and now still). I think he may have become the president of Brazil (or PM, I am not sure the constitution).

    That said I was 17 years old in Adelaide in 1993 when Ayrton won his last race in a McLaren that was a pretty poor car. I remember him shaking Alain’s hand and pulling him up onto the top step of the podium. The feud was done and time to move on- it was a great moment I will never forget and I was happy to see Ayrton and Alain make by gone’s be by gone’s.

    @sato113 – As for any books on Roland I am not sure but have not seen one mate. You are obviously taking a lend but would you expect, with all due respect to Roland and his family, as many books on Roland in his 3rd or 4th GP compared to Ayrton who was quite possibly (probably) the best of all time??

  8. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge) said on 19th May 2014, 14:17

    @keithcollantine

    Exactly.

  9. LotsOfControl (@for-unlawful-carnal-knowledge) said on 19th May 2014, 14:18

    @keithcollantine
    “If this were to serve as the starting point for a series of books from McLaren on their past champions – such as Alan Prost, Niki Lauda and Emerson Fittipaldi – I’m sure many F1 readers would appreciate the change of focus.”

    Sorry for previous post.

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