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Senna 2010 documentary Review

Senna is a rare breed of documentary film-making that is more thrilling than a big-budget summer flick, has such deep insights into the life of Aryton senna and the nuances of F1 racing that it creates an admiration of motor-sports in everyone. For the enthusiasts, it’s an up-close and personal love affair with the greatest moments in F1 history when Senna redefined the limits of Driving, ever so intense, ever so on the edge. For the seasoned fans, like me, Senna is a transcendental spiritual experience; moving us so vehemently that the tears shed couldn’t reflect the closure obtained in our souls.

F1 has always been a show of craftsmanship and engineering virtuoso. Drivers are supposed to perform as per the level of their cars or shall I say, as per the affluence of the Teams they represent. Deeper pockets leads to better engineered and tested cars. It’s the same in any motor-sport really, winning championships skyrockets the sales of road legal machines of the winning team. Reputation is synonymous with brand value. You can sense the catch 22 here, it’s all or nothing in Racing.

To be the best you need the best car, which requires top-dollar funding which can only be feasible long-term when the road-legal products are selling like hotcakes, which is heavily depended on the Brand reputation and by extension on the Racing Pole positions. You have to consistently evolve and excel, stagnancy is death in motor-racing. All the other teams are there to just emphasize on how fast the top teams like McLaren, Ferrari, and Mercedes are. And such teams treat pretty good drivers as fine pieces of equipment befitting their marvelous machines.

Things were about to change, though. The world has to witness the Great Aryton Senna, the legendary driver whose skills surpassed machines. His philosophy of No Fear. No Limit. No Equal. first materialized in the 1984 F1 debut with a shit-tier team “Toleman-Hart” when he was so fast in the heavy Rain that race was called off when he was at second place and would’ve taken the lead in the next few laps. Most journalists called it a political maneuver to prevent ripples in the status quo.

Before Senna, shit-tier teams weren’t supposed to win a Grand Prix, they don’t till this day. He wasn’t doing great that season in other circuits due to tire and engine issues but this career defining feat of starting at 13th but achieving podium position was done at Monaco midst heavy rain in a crappy car. With so much F1 footage available the documentary happens live in front of us, which was much needed lest people scoff of the legend of Senna as fiction.

Those who know what kind of circuit Monaco is can appreciate the double whammy of courage displayed by Aryton. It’s the most cramped and bumpy circuit in F1 roster. In heavy rain overtaking is risky because of the wide tire-sprays. Visibility is severely compromised and only the sharpest minds can maneuver around at break-neck speeds by virtue of their instinctual genius which is quite beyond conscious comprehension. Senna had an intellect surpassing the best minds of that generation, probably one the best minds ever.

Throughout his career his best performances are recorded on wet-tracks and on the infamous Monaco circuit. He was so great with the whimsical Lotus 98T that he would Lap his opponents (taking a lead of a whole lap) and finishing few minutes ahead of the 2nd podium finish. In a sport where milliseconds matter, lead of few minutes was deemed as preposterous show off. No one wanted to believe that his driving was beyond reason, beyond conscious control.

He said so himself, while driving he loses the semblance of conscious control. His greatness stemmed from transcending the plane of thoughts and ending up in the sublime state of spiritual cohesion with the universe itself, being one with the God. Some call it being in the zone, the art of spontaneity, the right mind-set, and various other percepts of zen-buddhism deals with the same phenomenon. Trying not to try as we put it. Trying to maintain an honorable pace for fellow opponents would have crashed him and it did quite a few times.

Though, many well-trained athletes harness the power of spontaneity, which is basically pure perfected reflexes from years of training without the nagging hindrance of conscious inputs; it takes an incarnated genius to completely shut down the conscious noise and be one with everything around him, the machine, the sport, the crowd, and the universe. Ole Ole Ole Ole Senna……No wonder he was revered as a piece of God himself in Brazil.

I wanted to expound on this seeing God on the edge of life and death thing because it has remained a source of bemusement in mainstream circles. I’ve experienced this quite a few times so I know what he was talking about. Once you’re truly in-the-zen-zone there’s no limit, relatively speaking. Here I’m posting screenshots from one of my finest runs in F1 2013 (pc) a racing-sim at the infamous Monaco, where I started at 17 with a shit-tier team and ended up at 2nd podium position, kind of pulling a virtual senna myself. It was instinctual, far too many chassis jerks on the edge of failing tires and tearing blind corners at full throttle, almost manhadling the machine. In hindsight, applying all the racing principles like perfect race line, linear braking and acceleration, hittting the apexes of every corner only led to mediocre results.

I’ve hardly scratched the surface of his racing credentials here the most prominent achievement being winning world championship three times, the documentary does a great job of narrating it through F1 footage and voice over of people who lived those glorious moments, most of them are prominent reporters and drivers. His racing career had so many twists, turns and thrilling developments that it’s an understatement calling it better than a high-octane thriller-drama. Witness for yourself, the legend of the best driver that ever lived and died a poetic death. Must-must watch.

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