Although Ayrton Senna's inevitable death at the age of 34 hung ominously over the 2010 documentary Senna (you can watch here if you haven't seen it yet), it captured and celebrated the Brazilian Formula 1 driver's awe-inspiring racing career. And there's a lot more to the story than just tragedy.
With boyish good looks and famously rebellious spirit, Senna captured the hearts of Brazil and the racing world; he was seen as the poster boy for happiness and hope for a country ravaged by poverty. To racing fans, Senna's death is, unfortunately, an essential and inextricable part of their sport's history. To a relative newcomer to the Formula 1 world, the tragedy of losing a driver like Senna so violently is mind boggling.
There are still a lot of questions to be asked about the "how" and "why" of the event, and it still bears discussion two decades later. So let's talk.
Possible Discussion Questions
1. While this film did a great job at showing Senna as a competitor, would you have liked to have learned even more about his private life?
2. Do you think Alain Prost was unfairly painted as the villain?
3. Do you think the FIA also personally had it out for Senna? Why?
4. What was it about the San Marino course that made it so dangerous?
5. How do you think technology and innovation in design has changed Formula 1?
6. Ronald Ratzenberger's death was overshadowed by Senna's death that occurred the following day. How do you think people would have reacted if only one death had occurred?
7. Senna's death is said to have been caused by penetrating trauma to the head, something that newer cars are built to prevent. How do you think the sport would have changed if those safety measures had already been in place? What would Senna's contributions have been?
Sonia Halbach is the winner of the Studio@Gawker Netflix competition. She lives in New York City and moonlights as a young adult writer with an emphasis on 19th-century historical fantasy.