The Death of Ayrton Senna The Death of Ayrton Senna, by Richard Williams 
Paperback, © 2010 Penguin, ISBN 9780241950128

Today will mark ‘May Day’ for many of us across the world, but for Formula 1 fans that date carries one tragic consequence: the death of three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Seventeen years on, the great Brazilian’s life is set to be showcased to a global movie-going audience with the highly anticipated documentary Senna – which audiences in Japan and Brazil have already been lucy enough to sample – a film in which journalist and author Richard Williams features extensively as one of its main interviewees.

There are few who know as much about Senna as Williams, and his classic book has been re-issued to time with the release of the documentary.

There are many books about Senna, his death, and the broader dangers of Formula 1, and Williams has done brilliantly to make his stand out from the crowd. Written as a traditional biography, the book covers Senna’s personal motivations and beliefs, his upbringing and purpose. The last third of the book concentrates on the minutes leading up to his death, the ensuing manslaughter trial and its repercussions.

Not only is it an eloquent analysis of the accident, the trials and the subsequent changes made in Formula One, but it is also a poignant reminder of what Senna meant to the F1 world and to the people of his native Brazil.

Williams does not try to deify Senna in this title, yet he still manages to write a balanced and decent testimony to one of the greatest drivers in F1 history.

At under 200 pages, it’s lighter than other titles if you were to look at this book purely as a biography – this is not the perspective that Richard’s F1 approaches this book – but in terms of it being an analysis of an accident, Williams covers the major angles well.

And in saying this, readers may come away from reading this wanting more, and Williams could have explored some more of the theories around his accident in more detail. The re-issued version we were supplied does not contain an update on the original version or any new material, and given that over 15 years have passed since his death, there was an opportunity to have re-examined some of these ideas.

Using our unique ‘Chequered Flags’ rating system, we award The Death of Ayrton Senna

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The Death of Ayrton Senna is available at specialist bookstores and Amazon. Our review copy was supplied to us by Penguin Australia.

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.