The Inside Line #53: A matter of timing

TILI Logo PrintI’ve never had too many regrets about the time I’ve spent in and around Formula One [1], but one of them is that I didn’t get into it sooner. The opportunities were right in front of me – my father’s first race meeting in the flesh was Goodwood in 1962 and there were always F1 books in the house that I occasionally flicked through – but once I made it to Australia as a kid, Formula One was something that I occasionally tuned into on TV, perhaps to see the Monaco Grand Prix or maybe watch a bit of the Australian Grand Prix in Adelaide [2]. Which meant that by the time I was into F1 more and began a career that saw me work in it, Ayrton Senna had come and gone.

As time went by, I began to discover – after the event – just who this man was and why he was revered the way he was. Later, annual trips to Suzuka, where fans sporting Senna and Honda merchandise still frequent the stands in big numbers today, brought the presence he had in the sport into sharper focus. Plenty of reading later, I ‘got’ it. The brilliant ‘Senna’ documentary three years ago has been watched plenty of times since, and it still hits me (pointing to heart) right there. [3]

This week marks the 20th anniversary since the fateful afternoon of May 1 1994 that brought a tragic end to a story that had so many more chapters to be written. It’s a day where anyone associated with F1 stops to pause, remembering the impact he had on the sport. To think he would have been 54 years old this year is almost unfathomable, and to think he was the last driver fatality at a F1 race weekend is something we should all be thankful for.

This week’s episode of ‘The Inside Line’ reflects on Senna two decades on from that Imola day and the legacy he left on Formula One. Also in this week’s show, we look at the changing face of Ferrari with Stefano Domenicali’s departure, be it voluntary or forced, and examine the latest career turnaround for Sergio Perez, this time at Force India. Being dumped by McLaren seems to have sparked some (much-needed, in my experience) humility in Perez’s approach this year, and perhaps he can make good on his promise after all. A Mexican Grand Prix, which hasn’t happened since Senna was still in the sport in 1992, can’t be far away.

Check out Episode 53 of ‘The Inside Line’: it’s on SPEED TV Australia (Foxtel/Austar channel 512) at 7pm AEST on Wednesday April 30, and on ESPN (Foxtel/Austar channel 508 in Australia) at 9.30pm AEST on Thursday May 1, the latter a date that any true F1 fan understands the significance of.


[1] At some point, I will come down from the moral high ground and write about one particular regret. But not yet.

[2] I remember being disappointed when Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits got punted out of the celebrity race in Adelaide one year. My priorities were perhaps a little skewed …

[3] One of the absolute highlights of the ‘Keeping Track’ podcast I co-host was interviewing Manish Pandey about ‘Senna’ for our first-ever episode back in 2010; some of his tales about how the film was made were fascinating.


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