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Dennis remembers 'fun' with Senna

Friday 25-April-2014 08:03

As the F1 fraternity prepares to mark 20 years since the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, Ron Dennis paid tribute to his former driver.

Next week marks the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Ratzenberger and Senna, who both lost their lives at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Ratzenberger died in an accident in qualifying while 24 hours later Senna was killed when he crashed while leading the Imola race.

Driving for Williams at the time of his death, Senna has previously raced for McLaren, winning three World titles in 1988, 1990 and 1991.

However, it wasn't all hard work.

Away from the track, the practical jokes played between Senna and team-mate Gerhard Berger are legendary and included a briefcase being dropped from a helicopter, frogs in a hotel room and smelly cheese in an air vent.

Speaking to Reuters about his former charge, McLaren CEO Dennis said: "Needless to say, when one of the group got back to his room later that night there was nothing in it. Nothing. No furniture. No clothes. Nothing.

"I remember the laughter and the fun.

"Normally there'd be things verging on the slapstick and not so funny, especially damaging property which frequently happened... it was childlike but at the same time a really good feeling inside the team."

The Brit revealed that Berger had been the perfect antidote after a tense time between Senna and his previous team-mate Alain Prost and the 1989 controversial Japanese GP.

"Gerhard gave me the perfect weapon to deal with Ayrton because he brought humour to the team. I would say the concept of telling a joke and Ayrton laughing at it was not even possible before Gerhard got in the team," Dennis said. "But then that just created a massive ice-breaker.

"It got to the extreme. Gerhard has no limits. I mean, no limits. He'll go to the point where it is positively dangerous. There was one moment where we were up in Hamilton Island and were diving. And we were at quite a good depth and Gerhard just came and turned my air off. He thought that was hilarious."

Senna's death will be marked by many around the world with Dennis acknowledging that the Brazilian will forever be remembered for his greatness.

"He was so good for all the period he was on the planet. I can see no positive-ness in the fact that he had an accident and lost his life. But you didn't see any decline.

"I think there's lots of drivers that stay in the sport too long. And they tarnish their greatness. He was just unbelievably competitive and then boom! Not there.

"So what do you remember? I never thought 'I wonder what Ayrton would look like if he were here today?'. Well, one thing he would look is a hell of a lot older. And he would have had other things in his life that would have detracted from that reputation. He might have had a failed marriage.

"He just came to an abrupt end so you remember that greatness. That's one thing. And secondly he was great. Because he had human values, he was very principled."

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