Senna vs Brundle can be viewed online via the Vimeo On Demand service. This allows as many racing fans around the world as possible to watch it in the easiest way whenever and wherever they choose to. To watch the film simply use the purchase function on the top right of the video player. The film is produced in 4k (UHD), the resolution streamed can be changed in the lower right corner of the video player.
If you liked the film please share it with as many people as you can. The people competing that year, both on and off the track, went on to achieve great things in the sport, one of them even became one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. This film has been made for the fans of motor racing and to honour a very special season.
In 1983 two young racing drivers where fighting for supremacy in the British Formula 3 series. Winning the championship would guarantee them a place in Formula 1 for the next year. It was a time when junior formula racing was still simple and raw; a time when the driver was in charge of winning.
The two men fighting could not be more different, one was from a well off family in Brazil who had easily won all the championships he had participated in up to this point and the other one had no money, pinning his hopes on a season that could be his last, his dream of becoming a professional racing driver could be over. These two men were Ayrton Senna and Martin Brundle.
In the beginning Ayrton lived up to his reputation, winning and pushing the car like no other driver, Martin was finishing second in each event, but second was not good enough, not if you want to make it to Formula 1. Martin had to find a way to beat Ayrton or it would all be over. How do you beat a man in the best car on the grid? You find a way into his head.
For the first time, the 15 key people that were involved at the heart of the iconic 1983 British Formula 3 come together to tell the amazing story of a year that shaped all of their careers like no other before. The film explores the key events from the year, but also highlights how fragile ultra-competitive racing drivers can be and how important confidence is to perform at the very top level. Ayrton Senna became one of the greatest drivers of all time, Senna vs Brundle, shows the raw young Ayrton and how he developed the skill that would ultimately propel him to global fame.
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I heard about this special season on and off over many years, but only when I happened to meet Asif Kapadia during a lunch in the summer of 2014, I started to think more concretely about putting a film together to explore the events cinematically. One of the things Asif mentioned was that many people wanted to see how Ayrton became the man we saw from 1984 onwards in Formula 1. Asif mentioned, that as a production team, they had to make a number of editing decisions and unfortunately Ayrton’s junior racing career could not be included.
The more I started to research what actually happened in 1983, the more the idea to produce a film covering the events of 1983 British Formula 3 season became a necessity in my head. This would be by far the biggest project I would embark on, but I felt I was ready for a challenge.
One evening in October 2014 I happened to find a video about the season on Mario Hytten’s YouTube channel and I contacted him to see if he would be interested to be featured in a documentary, and so an 18 months journey to put this film together began.
Mario was super helpful and started to give me other names he thought should be included. Over the next weeks I noted down who would be the ideal cast and ended up with a very ambitious list: the top 5 drivers (if you include Ayrton, the top 6), the top 4 team bosses and engineers, the top 3 journalists, the top TV commentator and the top photographer who also happened to be Ayrton’s press officer. The first task was to convince them to participate and agree to talk about events more than 30 years ago.
Over the last couple of years I have produced a number of Formula 1 related portraits which turned out to be pretty popular, so at least I could point to some prior work, but I had to rely heavily on introductions and favours to convince each one to be interviewed. Step by step people started to agree and a momentum started to build.
One of the key people to get onboard was of course Martin, without him the film would make little sense and in late January I felt ready to approach him. And a couple of days later he came back with a few very important lines.
Now I knew, this is going to happen and it would be down to me to make the best documentary I can with the resources, i.e. me, I had at my disposal. Over the next weeks I reached out to more and more people from my original list and in the end everybody agreed to take part. Amazing.
Whilst organising the cast, I also had to dig into the season to find out what happened in detail so I could develop the story and decide what to focus on during the interviews. The Internet is a wonderful source of information, but nothing is better than reading the actual race reports in old Autosport magazines.
In many ways this is the most important period as the documentary starts to play out in one’s head long before any filming starts. Given I had to interview a large number of people on camera it was important to structure this properly from the beginning so editing a concise story would be possible without using a narrator once all interviews were filmed.
Filming started with Martin on the 26th February 2015 and ended with David Tremayne on 10th March 2016. Most of the interviews were filmed in the UK, but Allen very kindly welcomed me to his house in Calgary on the 23rd of April, Calvin Fish made some time during his family holiday in Florence on the 22nd of October and I filmed Davy in New York a week later. I was also lucky enough to catch busy people like Eddie Jordan when he was in the UK for Christian Horner’s wedding or Jeremy Shaw when he returned to the US via London after commenting in Le Mans.
Whilst filming the interviews, I started to prepare the footage for editing and review the interviews I shot so far so I could continue to build the story whilst drafting the questions for the next person. My plan was to not use a narrator, so I always had to be mindful that 14 people needed to flow into each other. After I filmed 2/3 of the interviews, I decided to cut the story together to see where I had got to. The cut already worked well, but it was 2 hours 37 minutes and I was still had 4 interviews to do.
I also had the great pleasure to go to the Thruxton Historic Easter Meeting on the 4th April and film Martin’s old car. Chris Drake welcomed me into his team and I had a fabulous day.
Another key element of the film was going to be historic stills and moving images so the viewer could get a feel for the ear and see the protagonists in their historic setting. The still images where mainly made available by Keith, but others have also kindly sent me pictures too. After some research I also found who owned the footage that was filmed during the year. Richard Hay from HayFisher Production was also a great help, looking through the archive and making the footage available that was shot during the racing events. Steven Jones was the only person filming the famous crash at Oulton Park, he very kindly sent me a VHS tape with I digitised using a VHS player from eBay.
Once filming ended I focused fully on the edit and my laptop went with me everywhere I travelled so I could spend any spare time on putting this documentary together. In the beginning I edited just the audio files, as the 4K files were too big to fit on the biggest portable drive I could get. Once I cut down approximately 12 hours of interview footage to about 2 hours I switched from just audio to include video as well. During the editing process I always kept the group updated as much as I could, so they knew where things were going.
The last four steps to finish the edit, which consumed considerable time, were to make the shots colour match as much as possible and to grade them, clean up the audio and make it sound like it was recorded in the same environment, add music to support the story and finally type down the subtitles.
During the production of the film, a lot of work and spare time had to be committed, however it was also a lot of fun and very gratifying to see an idea that started in one’s head to become reality. I am very grateful for the time Martin, Davy, Calvin, Allen, Mario, Dick, Eddie, Alasdair, Neil, Murray, Jeremy, David, Simon and Keith spent with me and the support I had putting this together.