Symonds recalls favourite Senna moment

Ten years after the death of Ayrton Senna, Pat Symonds (Renault executive director of engineering) - his first ever F1 race engineer with Toleman in 1984 - recalled his most striking memory of the Brazilian champion. "Dallas was what I would...

Ten years after the death of Ayrton Senna, Pat Symonds (Renault executive director of engineering) - his first ever F1 race engineer with Toleman in 1984 - recalled his most striking memory of the Brazilian champion.

"Dallas was what I would call an 'old-fashioned' North American street circuit, lined with big concrete blocks. It was a very tricky circuit, and bumpy enough to make even Monaco look smooth! After qualifying well, and running as high as fourth, Ayrton eventually had to retire from damage caused by hitting the wall."

"On returning to the pits, he seemed shocked that he could have hit the wall; his immediate reaction was "I know I didn't make a mistake -- the wall must have moved." The concrete block in question must have weighed about twenty tonnes, and we were naturally sceptical, but he was so insistent that he actually persuaded me to walk round the circuit and take a look."

"When I did so, the wall had indeed moved -- somebody had clearly clipped the previous block and in doing so, displaced the next one by only about 4mm, so the transition between the two blocks was no longer smooth but marked with a tiny step. That was when the precision to which he was driving really hit home for me. Don't forget, this was a guy in his first season of F1, straight out of F3..."

-renault-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ayrton Senna