As McLaren team principal, Ron Dennis worked with Ayrton Senna for six of the most fruitful seasons in the Brazilian’s illustrious F1 racing career. Under Dennis’ watchful eye, Senna won 35 races, claimed 46 pole positions and achieved all three of his world championship crowns.
Twenty years on from Senna’s untimely death, Dennis – now the McLaren Group CEO – reveals some of his favourite stories of working with one of Formula One racing’s most beloved drivers…
On Senna turning down McLaren’s support in 1982
“I can’t remember what he was asking for, whether he was asking for an option, or for an F1 test drive, but I said to him if you give me an option, I’ll pay for your Formula Three season. But he made it very apparent, although not rudely, that he was not interested.
“He had the ability and he wanted to be independent. I liked that – well, I didn’t exactly like it, but I did respect it. When he tested for us in 1983 I thought to myself, ‘I might just give you a bit of a comeuppance, so I won’t be too impressed with what you do in the car. Even if I think it, I will not tell you.’ Anyway, we didn’t actually have a seat available at the time, so playing it down (his test performance) was much better than playing it up.