In F1 more than elsewhere it is often a question of millimeters, and each millimeter is a thousandth of a second of winning. So when Ayrton Senna learns the circuit down to the smallest millimeter before each race to win that tiny nothing that will make the difference, and touches his car with the most improbable excuse possible, what happens?
This is what the former general manager of engineering at Renault, Pat Symonds, tells us in a particularly surprising anecdote about the Brazilian champion who took place in 1984 in Dallas (U.S.A.) during his first season in F1. .
The race takes place in blazing heat with 35°C while the organizers had scheduled the race for 11:00 a.m. to avoid the Texas heat wave, on July 8 it was a waste of time. After a good start which put him in 4th position, Ayrton Senna suffered a collision with the wall causing him a slow puncture on the second lap when he was attacking 3rd in the event. He spun off, leaving after the peloton, he returned to the pits and resumed the race dead last.
The same misadventure will happen to the Brazilian driver on the 10th lap, in the same place. This is how he undertook an exceptional comeback while in front of him, Dallas was having fun playing Russian Roulette with the drivers, this Grand Prix is as disorganized as it is unpredictable.
Ayrton Senna will be forced to retire because of his broken driveshaft on lap 47. What is the reason? Ayrton Senna knows it, but does not want to believe it!
"Ayrton had qualified well, then it was a difficult and trying race, not to say calamitous. Ayrton made a mistake, he spun and then managed to come back, he was even on a rhythm quite surprising and he was heading for a good, even unexpected result.
Then he hit the wall and damaged the driveshaft, he had to give up, but he was all amazed and distraught at how it happened, he came to me and said 'he I can't hit the wall, the wall has moved."
"I tell you the wall has moved"
Pat Symonds found this exchange quite strange, especially from Ayrton Senna. "Yes, of course, he moved..." retorted Pat Symonds ironically. "It was a really big block of concrete, but he was so insistent and I trusted him that I said 'OK, let's see this...'. I thought it was bullshit, but I wanted to when even check. We went to the place where Ayrton Senna hit the wall and you know what? The concrete block had moved!!!
They were big blocks of concrete, but a pilot had hit the wall a few laps before and it left the leading edge quite protruding, barely a few millimeters though. I would have said no more than 10 millimetres, but Ayrton was driving with such precision that it was enough to get in his way."
"It literally opened my eyes, I knew this driver was good but after that I knew he was really special. He was not only good in driving, but in his beliefs, his analysis and his conclusion. He had said 'I can't be wrong, the wall has moved' and he was right. Some other pilots would have concluded that it was pilot error on their part to explain this touchdown, but not Ayrton, he knew what happened. had gone on the track."