Observations placeholder

Senna, Ayrton - I'm sure that the wall moved!



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Senna's first F1 race engineer, Pat Symonds, said this about the US Grand Prix in Dallas, the recollection given by Symonds in an interview in 2014:

The car was reasonably competitive there, so we expected to have a good race but Ayrton spun early in the race. He then found his way back through the field in a quite effective way and we were looking for a pretty good finish but then he hit the wall, damaged the rear wheel and the driveshaft and retired, which was a real shame.

The real significance of that was that when he came back to the pits he told me what happened and said "I'm sure that the wall moved!" and even though I've heard every excuse every driver has ever made, I certainly hadn't heard of that one!

But Ayrton being Ayrton, with his incredible belief in himself, the absolute conviction, he then talked me into going with him, after the race, to have a look at the place where he had crashed. And he was absolutely right, which was the amazing thing!

Dallas being a street circuit the track was surrounded by concrete blocks and what had happened - we could see it from the tyre marks - was that someone had hit at the far end of the concrete block and that made it swivel slightly, so that the leading edge of the block was standing out by a few millimetres.

And he was driving with such precision that those few millimetres were the difference between hitting the wall and not hitting the wall.

While I had been, at first, annoyed that we had retired from the race through a driver error, when I saw what had happened, when I saw how he had been driving, that increased my respect for the guy by quite a lot.

The source of the experience

Senna, Ayrton

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps