Alain Prost on: the Senna movie, Williams’ downfall, modern F1

27 February, 2012

Alain Prost (FRA) McLaren MP4/5 walks from his car following a collision with team mate Ayrton Senna (BRA) at the entrance to the chicane. Meanwhile Senna pleads with the marshals to push start him. They did, he recovered to win, but was disqualified.  Formula One World Championship, Japanese Grand Prix, Suzuka, Japan. 22 October 1989. Catalogue Ref.: 10-182 Sutton Motorsport Images Catalogue

Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna and their infamous feud during the 1989 Japanese GP at Suzuka

Feb.27 (GMM) Alain Prost has spoken in depth about Formula 1 today and in the past in an interview with Russian website F1News, here are highlights of what he had to say.

(L to R): Second placed Alain Prost (FRA) with his McLaren team mate Ayrton Senna (BRA), who took pole position and went on to win the race. Belgian Grand Prix, Rd 11, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, 28 August 1988.

Alain with Ayrton Senna during the 1988 Belgian GP weekend

Prost revealed that he has no desire to see the highly-lauded feature film about his former nemesis Ayrton Senna. The award-winning ‘Senna’ movie focuses strongly on legendary Senna’s on and off-track rivalry with Frenchman Prost, who was portrayed as the politicking villain.

“I haven’t seen it and I don’t want to see it. I definitely don’t agree with how they went about it. I spent a lot of time trying to explain to the makers that they are wrong,” said Prost who was known as ‘The Professor’ in his heyday.

Prost conceded it will be difficult for the once-great Williams to return to the top in F1. The Frenchman won the last of his four world championships with the British team, which in 1993, was utterly dominant. But Williams has not won a single race since 2004, and last year finished the constructors’ standings a woeful ninth, having scored only a handful of points.

“I talk often with Frank Williams, and this winter I even tried to help find him some sponsors, but failed. It’s difficult for them, as [once] you get yourself into financial problems, it’s so hard to get out of them,” said Prost whose own team collapsed in 2001.

Second place finisher Alain Prost (FRA) Williams celebrates his fourth world title. Formula One World Championship, Portugese Grand Prix, Estoril, 26 September 1993 Catalogue Ref.: 10-064 Sutton Motorsport Images Catalogue

Alain celebrated winning his fourth world title with Williams in 1993

The Frenchman was also asked about the late Ayrton’s nephew Bruno, who in 2012 will race for Williams-Renault, a combination that in 1993 powered Prost to the last of his four titles.

“Bruno is a great guy and I mean that sincerely. I cannot judge his ability as a driver, because it’s premature to talk about that, but he is a good person,” said Prost.

He  believes it is “absolutely impossible” for F1′s newest teams to ever break the dominance of the sport’s top five. He is referring to small privateers Caterham (formerly Lotus), Marussia (formerly Virgin) and HRT (formerly Hispania), who were enticed into formula one in 2010 following the departures of manufacturers Honda, BMW and Toyota.

Prost was adamant; “I will say quite frankly that they cannot become competitive in today’s F1. It’s impossible”. They can make some progress, but – of course – you must immediately put the question ‘What goals do they pursue? To break into the top five with a new team like this in formula one – it is absolutely impossible.”

Prost Grand Prix Director Alain Prost (FRA) announces that his team has gone into receivership. Guyancourt, France, 22 November 2001

Alain ran his own F1 team between 1997 to 2001 before it went bankrupt

The 57 year old has backed France’s touted return (in 2013) to the formula one calendar. Until recently, the four time world champion was involved in a project to bring the sport to Paris.

“That’s a closed chapter. I really regret that, because – believe me – it was the best project I had seen in a long time.” admitted Prost.

The latest proposal is for France’s Paul Ricard to share an annually alternating grand prix date with Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium’s fabled, and much loved circuit.

“Obviously the best thing would be for France and Belgium to have their own grands prix each year. But unfortunately you have to admit that Europe is facing great difficulties, so if this is the only way for the race to happen, then why not? It’s better than nothing,” said Prost.

In his F1 career which spanned 13 years, Prost notched up four world championship titles, 51 wins, and 106 podiums. During this period he drove for McLaren, Renault, Ferrari and Williams,  winning races with all these teams.

Subbed by AJN


  • me262

    well ofcourse Alain dosent want to watch the senna movie…the truth hurts :)

  • wata shata wata

    me262 aryton loved prost so shut it fool

  • me262

    wata shat wata

    in 1989 they were sworn enemies dipwad

  • Elfredore

    Senna was not even n Prost’s league. Senna used to wait for Prost to set his car up, and then throw a tantrum until they put his set up on his car. When Prost left Mclaren, where was Senna???

    Senna is the F1 worlds version of Rossi…Overated Hack!

  • Arthur

    They respected each other so much, because they were the best ones. The fury they attacked each other, is because they were the only rivals to themselves.
    When Prost was retiring, they were starting to get closer, and this kept going until Senna’s death. Senna wanted Prost to assume a bigger role in drivers’ safety council, and they were really getting closer.
    Unfortunately rivalry sells the news more than friendship, right?
    I’ve watched the movie. It’s awesome, but hides lots of information, and shows Prost as the guilty, instead of Ballestri. By the way, I’m Brazilian, and a huge Senna fan.

  • me262

    @elfredore

    Prost was allegedly excellent with chassis set up and Senna is reported have improved his ability in that area wheh he shared the garage with Prost at McLaren. Prost couldnt learn anything from Senna because Sennas’s skills could be learnt…you either got it or you dont ;)

    When Prost left Mclaren where was senna???? ummmm Prost left McLaren at the end of 89 = Senna world champion 90 & 91 thats where senna was. Prost left McLaren to Ferrari and then Ferrari fired his a$$ because he bagged Ferrari…

  • F1 Follower 1991

    @me262

    Well i do think Senna had a lot to learn from Prost, it was generally accepted Prost had a much faster race pace than Senna, this shows in the fastest laps for example, plus Senna did have a reputation as a bit of a car breaker like our good old english pal Nige.

    Although Senna was more naturally gifted in exploiting and pushing a car to its limits, Prost was much cleverer. Dont forget too that without that silly rule in place counting the best 11 results to the title, Prost would of won both the 88 and 89 world titles!

    I dont think you can really count the 2 years after they had parted as team mates, Senna was clearly in a much superior McLaren in 90 and 91, as the Ferrari’s were horribly unreliable and handled worse than a truck – especially the 643. Prost should of moved to Williams with Nige at the start of the 1991 season.

  • pintofreality

    Alain is French . . enough said

  • me262

    @F1 Follower

    thats why they called him the professor ‘much cleverer’ well i wouldnt exactly put it that way but i would say a more articulate approach to race day…yes. About the car breaker reputation, Senna clearly didnt break enough cars to affect his championship wins, race wins & throwing Prost off his mantle, did they? So comparing him to Nige is a bit careless i’d say :) qualifying yes, different regs back in the day…and wasnt he spectacular

    Yes that rule suited Senna because for Senna it was win or bust (spectacular for the viewer). However watching Prost hold 4th position for 35 laps isnt…cleverer it is though. If we explore the full list of ‘would of’s’ then Senna would of won the 1989 title without Balestre, Senna would have have beat Prost to the 1993 season if Prost hadnt vetoed that option for Williams (yes Prost had ‘I dont want Senna as team mate’ in his contract) seeing what Senna did with the Mclaren Ford of the year, Senna would of…

    Yes Senna’s McLaren was dominant in 1990 & 1991. I was responding to another comment if you hadnt realised. In response to you, thats what Formula 1 is about: being in the right team at the right time. Senna arrived at McLaren (Prosts team) as the pretender and pulled the rug from right under him. Senna took over his team and Prost left at the end of 89. What does that tell you?

  • me262

    @pintofreality

    in a nut shell….yes!!

  • BILL.

    @F1 Follower 1991

    After 1990 In FERRARI ( And Especially After The 1990 BRITISH GP ) NIGE Would Not Sign For Any Team Having PROST Alongside Him.

    Why Do You Think He Did Not Sign For WILLIAMS In 1993 ( After Being WDC With Them In 1992 ) And Went Racing Across The Pond ?

    Aggressive Racers, FOREVER !

  • sennauno

    @BILL

    I’ll correct you on that one: Mansell left Williams because of Frank Williams refused to pay drivers ‘world champion rates’. No Williams driver stayed at Williams to defend his title since Keke Rosberg in 1982

  • F1 Follower 1991

    @sennauno

    Thanks for clarifying that one for BILL, Mansell was a bit rosy eyed i think after the 1992 title win, I think he failed to remember Williams were a private team and the demands he were wanting were a tad high, but i think Frank Williams has had a bit of a reputation for being a bit tight.

    I think BILL was getting mixed up with Prost himself as of course in 1993 when it was announced Senna was to join Williams for 1994, It broke the clause in Prost’s contact that stated he wanted to never be team mates with Senna again, hence why he decided to go back into reitrement.

  • F1 Follower 1991

    I think BILL got mixed up with Prost himself who obviously left Williams at the end of 1993 due to Senna being signed for 1994, something obviously that contradicted the contract Prost had with Williams highlighting his preference to never be Senna’s team mate again.

    With regards to Nigel, Frank Williams always had a bit of a reputation for being a bit tight (although being a private team) so i think Nigel should of been more flexible in regards to wages, he would of had one hell of a car in 1993.

  • BILL.

    @sennauno

    @F1 Follower 1991

    I Know WIKIPEDIA Is Considered, By Many, A Load Of Incorrect Information, But, If You Have The Time, Read The Profile Of NIGE Regarding Years 1990 Through 1993.

    Even Today NIGE Would Kick Half Of The Grid !

  • BILL.

    @sennauno

    @F1 Follower 1991

    Sorry, But, For Some Reason, My Response To You Two Did Not Come Through.

    I Tried Twice.

  • BILL.

    Sorry, But, For Some Reason, My Response To You Two Did Not Come Through.

    I Tried Twice.

  • http://www.gmofilm.com fools

    @Elfredore

    Arent you a goof? lol…comparing Senna to Rossi. Rossi can ride Moto, Rally and F-1 fool! You kiiding me?…Rossi also is a 7 times WORLD CHAMPION…thats like saying Schumi sucked balls..

    GTFOH…Senna was great on the track and off the track… He helped poor kids and to this day his charity still does.

    Thats were his notabiltiy came from.

  • BILL.

    I Know WIKIPEDIA Is Considered, By Many, A Load Of Bad Information, But, If You Have The Time, Read The Profile Of NIGE Years 1990 Through 1993.

    Even Today NIGE Would Kick Half The Grid !

    PS. Moderators – Please, Could You Check That Using More Than One ‘@’ Symbol, In A Single Post, Makes It NOT To Be Delivered ?

    Thank You.

  • BILL.

    Some Feedback On What Happened To My Posts Would Be Greatly Appreciated.

    Thank You.

  • Joe Kinnear

    I’ve seen the docu-movie, and it’s a bit one sided if u ask me. I’ve read books on Prost, and there were at some races, even Senna behaved like a (insert bad word here).

    So the point is, Prost didn’t watch it not because it was the “truth” as commented by @me262, but because he was portrayed as a “bad guy”, as the only bad guy. It’s like comparing Mika to Schumi, and condemning Schumi.

    Not to say I prefer Prost over Senna, it’s just that.. lob-sided.

  • Sennauno

    @joe kinnear

    youve read books have you? well you must b right then

    dont think the movie was biased in any way, you should read a book about the 1989 Japanese grand prix and maybe see a video of Prosts on board camera when he crashed into Senna. If he had continued taking the corner where the turn in of RH wheel w/o colliding, he would have been on the grass! Prost fans should hang their heads in shame at how Prost claimed the 1989 title

    nah for sure, the truth is what you, Prost, and the FIA headed by Jean Marie Balestre believe in. Then people cant believe what Senna did in suzuka 1990…It WAS a shame the 1990 title was decided in that way & ayrton was the first to admit that. But you know what? The sight of Senna saying ‘Oh no you dont, not again’when he shunted Prost together with Balestre and the FIA off the track was artificial karma…but it was sweet in its own way. The world was never fair and sometimes you gotta stand your ground…specially when the system is against you

  • Mike

    You nuts can’t be serious. Senna was by far the most gifted driver. Only his untimely death kept him from Schumacher like wins. And if it rained? Race over: Senna would dominate.

    Senna could take an inferior car and win pole position. He could come from behind and catch the field. He was great. Perhaps the greatest we’ll ever see.

  • Alex

    I wish I was older back then to follow whole Prost, Mansell, Senna, Piquet era.

    In 1990 I remember turning on TV to watch some cartoons and I saw Ferrari driving in Monaco GP. I was hooked for life.

    But I got to witness Schumaher vs Hakkinen, simply amazing.

  • Roy

    In making ‘Senna’ Manish Pandy and Asif Kapadia did not only design a faulty jigsaw puzzle, they also built their very own maypole and they are not afraid to dance around it.

    filmmakers’ Asif Kapedia and Manish Pandey take a page from the BBC’s 2007 ‘Royal Family at Work’ playbook, blatantly distorting the truth, knowingly stating a scene is not what it is depicted as being in order to dramatise and sensationalise their documentary.

    What a year it has been for the United Kingdom. The Queen’s 60th Jubilee was celebrated with lavish ceremonies, London hosted the Olympic Games and, to a lesser degree but all important to you, the reader, a British-made documentary, Senna, bagged a haul of awards and accolades including two BAFTAs.

    Using the maxim “if in doubt put on a concert” both the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and Olympic closing ceremony featured a performance by some original members of a band called Madness.

    Those in their late 40’s may recall an earlier incarnation of them as, for a brief spell in 1980/81, they enjoyed substantial domestic sales success. At their peak one of their albums reached No.2 in the UK although that popularity was not mirrored elsewhere in the world and, in the musical hotbeds of North and South America, they failed to breach the top 100.

    32 years hence the band has released more compilation albums than studio albums whilst also cashing-in on four box sets and live albums. These days, with plenty of advance notice and good promotion, they might sell out Skegness Butlins in mid-summer.

    Madness were rolled-out at the Olympics to symbolise all things Great British, as were the left-hand-drive Bentleys and diesel-spewing London taxis. I suppose they are all British as is another Olympics performer Mike Oldfield of Tubular Bells fame.

    Oldfield has lived in Spain, LA, Monaco and Switzerland all in an attempt to avoid paying UK taxes or, as according to his official line, to avoid smoking bans in public places.

    Then there is the group Iron Maiden who boast four UK No.1 selling albums including their latest offering which reached the top-spot in 28 countries. Additionally eight of their albums have reached the top-20 in North America.

    Combined it gives them album sales approaching 100 million. When not on world-wide tours performing before two million fans a year, waving the Union Flag and filling 60,000 seater stadiums, they live in the UK and pay UK taxes.

    It leads me to ask, why this Great British export was not invited to perform alongside the likes of Madness before a global audience at the Olympics. It was, after all, an event designed to showcase all that is great and good about Great Britain.

    Clearly someone decided their music was unpalatable to their particular taste therein denying the performers a rightful opportunity to showcase one of Great Britain’s most successful musical exports.

    At this juncture doubtlessly you believe I’ve been a fan of Iron Maiden since the year zip and there is nothing more I like doing than letting my hair down and letting the dandruff fly while head banging to the tunes of their multi-platinum selling Number of the Beast album?

    Incorrect. I am an advocate of fair play and honesty. I believe people tasked with the responsibility of showcasing successful musical exports need to be unbiased.

    Similarly journalists need to report facts in a fair and balanced way regardless of their personal opinions. Being a journalist is not a licence to be bigot, that luxury is only bestowed on columnists. They are a very different beast.

    Unfortunately, sometimes, we prefer to believe a lie rather than the facts. In fact we don’t even want to know the truth. Fully aware of human natures failings, the cliché “don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story” is still way too often employed by those desperate to attain notoriety and income via readership or viewership. Sensationalism and character assassination sells but tampering with the truth and distorting facts to better yourself…

    Currently the BBC is under the spotlight over a case of who knew what, what they said, why they said it and, most importantly, what they knew and why they said nothing.

    This is not a first for the corporation or its documentary makers. In July 2007 a trailer, previewed only to journalists, for a behind-the-scenes documentary titled: Monarchy, The Royal Family at Work showed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth apparently storming out of a session with a photographer.

    It was an untruth; the shot was not what it was depicted as being. In fact it was not even filmed on the same day. Once the deliberate depiction of scenes out of sequence was brought to light, by the Royal Household, the implication of a potential five million BBC viewers being deceived led to the commissioning of public report, the Wyatt Report.

    When Wyatt’s report hit the fan, the BBC’s Controller, Peter Finchman, his head of publicity Jane Fletcher, and the creative officer at production company RDF Media, Stephen Lambert, all flew out of the back of it.

    Frightening to think of so much furore when it was, after all, just a trailer aired behind closed doors. This was not a feature film-style documentary distributed globally by the colossal Universal Pictures which picked up BAFTA’s for Best Editing and Best Documentary.

    Let’s cut to the chase here. I am clearly referring to the multi-award winning UK-made documentary titled Senna which has sold over 600,000 DVD copies and grossed £3.2 million at the box office in the British Isles alone.

    The highest grossing British documentary of all time is, in places, dubious and in one instance, blatantly bogus.

    Even through the fuzzy prism of old footage, if you delve deep enough beyond evidence I found mysteriously disappearing before my eyes, I think you will agree the truth shines through.

    Undoubtedly the task of depicting a ten year career in a 100 minute documentary has to be difficult, some would say futile. However that should allow for the fact pattern to be rigidly adhered to.

    Sadly there were innuendos from the outset in Senna. There are too many to list. I would simply say Alan Prost, who may be French, has been served a massive injustice. His name and reputation, deservedly built-up over a 13 year Formula 1 career was destroyed in this hatchet job, the quality of which could surely be matched by a 16-year-old college student with access to the internet and an Apple-Mac laptop.

    Most are already aware of how FIA President Jean-Marie Balestre’s quote of “the best decision is my decision” was bastardised from a longer sentence which had a very different meaning.

    Senna was not leading by an ever increasing margin at Monaco in 1988 because of his dominance. It was due to Alan Prost, the only rival with a similarly competitive car, being tucked-up behind Gerhard Burger and losing seconds each lap as a result.

    I digress.

    Senna is divided into four distinct parts: His first race win, his first title, his last race for McLaren which was his last race win, and his tragic death.

    It is act four, Ayrton Senna’s parting from Ron Dennis’ team, where filmmakers’ Asif Kapedia and Manish Pandey take a page from the BBC’s 2007 Royal Family at Work playbook, blatantly distorting the truth, knowingly, stating a scene is not what it is depicted as being in order to dramatise and sensationalise their documentary.

    The scene begins with Ayrton walking from a hotel elevator. On screen a graphic appears stating AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX with a byline: FINAL RACE OF THE ’93 SEASON.

    Within one second the scene changes to a conversation at the back of a garage between Ron Dennis and Ayrton. It is a touching exchange when a fallout earlier in the day is discussed. Dennis suggests the argument is put behind them and Senna do his very best in the forthcoming race in Adelaide. The Brazilian agrees and states it he will “do exactly as I always tried ”.

    The scene ties in beautifully with what happens next; Ayrton Senna wins the Australian Grand Prix. The documentary’s scenes move on to Ayrton returning to Ron Dennis, depicted like an overwhelmed winning parent on sports-day, and their discussion together are revealed by Senna.

    Of course there is one monumental problem. The Australian Grand Prix took place in Adelaide on November 7th 1993 and this heart-to-heart conversation didn’t take place that day. In fact it did not take place at that Grand Prix, or any part of the previous Grand Prix in Japan on October 24th.

    The footage, described as happening moments before the Australian race, the last that Ayrton Senna was to win, or complete, was actually lifted from the television series “A Season with McLaren” made by John Gau Productions and broadcast, ironically, by the BBC in December 1993.

    Their documentary shows that conversation happening at Estoril, Portugal, prior to the start of the Grand Prix on September 26th. As the camera pans out to see the Portuguese circuit I would be inclined to believe them.

    A Season with McLaren was a seven part series of which I own an old VHS copy. I also easily found all parts of it on Youtube. Similarly I had little problem finding Senna’s writer Manish Pandey on the Internet. Pandey is very active on the world wide web and has had little hesitation using it as a tool to promote his documentary and boast of award nominations and accolades.

    Therein it was easy to contact him and ask if he were aware of this scene not being from the Australian Grand Prix as stated. The response was amazing. Within 24 hours of posing my question the Season with McLaren

    documentary, showing evidence which contradicts his Senna documentary, was completely removed from Youtube.

    There were over a dozen uploads of the particular episode, titled A Man for all Seasons, which could have been viewed. Overnight all now showed a blank screen featuring an apology and explanation that the video had been removed. In some instances ‘Tim Bonython Productions’ were listed as claiming the clip featured copyright infringements. I suggest if you were to delve a little deeper you may find a connection between this production company and the Pandey/Kapadia collaboration.

    In some countries A Season with McLaren was made into a 14 part series and, amazingly, all 13 other parts of this series can be readily and abundantly watched online. The one exception is the one segment, the one piece of the jigsaw puzzle lifted from it and inserted incorrectly into the Senna documentary.

    Regardless I continued to pose my questions to Pandey but the emails and tweets remained unanswered. Ultimately I pointed out the inaccuracies on the bottom of a blog, which waxed lyrical at Senna’s vast array of awards, written by Formula 1 journalist Adam Cooper who boasts attending every F1 GP since Japan in 1994. This too disappeared within the space of hours and Cooper promptly blocked me from following his Twitter updates for good measure.

    With a BAFT award for Best Editing and another for Best Documentary accepted by Senna’s makers I continued to ask myself if this disappearing segment of “A Season with McLaren” was coincidence. Personally it would not sit well with me accepting an award for journalism knowing part of my story was a lie.

    In April of this year I took myself off to Brighton where the Senna’s makers were staging a BAFTA Masterclass – explaining what it takes to make a BAFTA winning documentary – strangely, possibly understandably with a camera in hand, I was refused admission and refused the right to pose questions to Pandey or Kapadia.

    …and then, as if out of the blue, a tweet from Pandey in essence stating: “Ron Dennis was cool about us compressing Portugal footage with that from Japan and you should be too”.

    A confession that this was no innocent editorial mistake but a deliberate distortion of the truth which was justified because it was sanctioned by Ron Dennis?

    It is an act which left me, a paying cinema goer, defrauded. Universal Pictures are no different to a corporation such as the BBC. When they take peoples money they too have a responsibility to the living, dead and paying audience.

    The BBC’s out-of-sequence documentary never made it before a viewing audience yet it led to an enquiry, naming, shaming and resignations. Senna’s makers have happily collected awards and made a lot of money on the back of their out-of-sequence flick.

    Values such as fair play, decency and even the truth clearly count for little in this modern televisual era but, at the end of the day, after Manish Pandey has polished his vast array of accolades and awards, he has to sleep at night. I wish him well with that.

    There is a quote from Ayrton Senna in Senna: “If you no longer go for a gap you are no longer a racing driver”. I declare if you no longer document the truth in chronological order you are no longer a documentary maker.

    Should you wish to see the Portuguese Dennis/Senna conversation you can do so by clicking here: skip one advert and move forward 14.30sec. It would appear the removal of this A Season with McLaren is, thankfully, out of reach due to its oriental origin.

    Should you wish to see that same conversation happening weeks later at a different Grand Prix (as depicted in Senna) you can do so here: 29.30sec

    Pandey’s next screenplay is based on the relationship between 1958 F1 champion Mike Hawthorn, Peter Collins and Enzo Ferrari. It is currently being finalised.

  • Pworst

    Prost looking at the mirror, this morning:

    Hey, mirror! What you are showing and talking isn’t true!

    It isn’t happen!

    Listen to my version of this reality!

    hehehe

  • the undertaker

    Great champion leave to talk about the races , other are simply comet which end up in the black hole they dug , funny I see Senna right in the center , going , going , gone .
    The race goes on .

  • The_Splean

    We’ll never know exactly what went on behind the scenes & who was more to blame for the sour relationship between Senna & Prost but one thing that can’t be denied is the horrible treatment of Senna by corrupt F1 officials of the time, has there ever been a more victimised driver in the history of F1 than Senna?

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