PARIS: Twenty-five years after Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola, one of his great rivals, French driver Alain Prost said: “Not only my career but also my life is tied to Ayrton Senna”.
“These are things that can be explained, but not completely,” Prost told AFP.
“There is not a day when we do not talk about this … On social media, practically every day there is something. It’s phenomenal. We made a big impression on people’s spirits, although we did not necessarily realise it at the time.”
“We had gone from a world where Formula One was for specialists to a completely open world. The big media came in because there was this human battle with drivers of different characters, different charismas, different cultures and different education.”
“Our rivalry was incredible but it was also related to the whole context and, unfortunately, Ayrton’s death left it frozen.”
Prost, who started racing in Formula One in 1980, had retired in 1993. Senna drove his first Grand Prix in 1984.
The pair were team-mates, and rivals, with McClaren in 1988 and 1989. Senna won the drivers title the first year, with Prost second. The next year Prost won with Senna only fourth.
“I actually only drove two years with him on the same team and we overlapped for only four or five years in all. I won lots of races and titles without him, but our history is completely linked. There is not a moment when, if you talk about Prost, Senna will not come up, or the other way around.
“Not only my career but also my life is related to him. I have lived with this for 30 years.”
“When we raced against each other, logically roughly 50% of people adored you and 50% hated you, it was really amazing.
“After my retirement in 1993, it changed. Fortunately, there was almost a six-month friendship from the moment I pulled out of F1 until the accident.
“After Ayrton’s death, I would say the vast majority have rallied to a shared story, not Prost against Senna, and that’s beautiful.”
Prost condemned the highly-acclaimed movie “Senna” by the British director Asif Kapadia for focusing on the pair’s feud.
“There are some cases of animosity, of people who have seen the film which is totally idiotic. It’s a shame.”
“When I go to Brazil, I’m perhaps better known than in France. There is an incredible passion and something that has grown into respect because I am part of the Senna Foundation and I have always been very close to the family. ”
Senna died on a black weekend for Formula One.
“There is a before and after,” Prost said of the aftermath.
“It’s hard to say because, there was Roland Ratzenberger’s fatal accident on Saturday and Rubens Barrichello’s crash on Friday.
“Without Ayrton’s accident on Sunday, there would have been no big change – Ayrton’s crash completely shook things up in terms of safety for the better. It has fundamentally changed F1 and how people see it.”