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The three-times world champion Niki Lauda called him the greatest driver ever, and the team owner Sir Frank Williams said of him, 'He was an even greater man outside the car than he was in it.’ In his book The Death of Ayrton Senna Richard Williams notes that such complexity of character and technical skill rarely co-exist within a single human being.
As a driver, Senna’s secret was his extraordinary dedication and focus.
His reach was long – even people not interested in motor racing talk about Senna in a proprietorial way.
He had an unknowable quality, and enormous charisma in a sport that is short on charisma.
In 2006 they got the green light from Viviane, Senna’s sister.
For years the family had been besieged by people wanting to make films about Senna, but they were uniquely impressed by Pandey and Gay-Rees.
And he was Brazilian, and proud to be so, even though his country was going through a terrible time.
'Part of doing this movie,’ Pandey says, 'wanting to do it so badly and not resting till we got everything we wanted – from access, to footage, to clearances – was because his story had to be told.
He seemed propelled by a desire to find more within himself.
'On many occasions I have found satisfaction from beating my own achievements,’ he said.
Pandey presented his first treatment to Gay-Rees in 2004.
Two ingredients were essential: permission from the Senna family, and the endorsement of Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One supremo.
The Sennas contacted Ecclestone, who owns the entire F1 film archive, asking him to help.