Ayrton Senna, Silverstone 1987.

Monday, 3 May 2010 A year or two before most people had even heard of Aryton Senna, I persuaded Arena magazine to commission me to shoot him.

He didn’t live very far from me at that time, in Walton-On-Thames I believe, so it seemed quite convenient. But it was one of those jobs without a particular deadline, and whether it ever happened or not was largely down to me. 

In those days press passes for Formula One were quite easy to get hold of (you had to see Max Mosley though) and so it came to be that I spent a largely fruitless time stalking Ayrton during a practice day for the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. Whilst I thought I had all the right passes for ‘access all areas’, the security had other ideas and I kept getting chucked out. Since they didn’t actually take the passes off me, I just walked round and went in again by another gate. So I was playing tag with the guards all day.

Eventually I managed to track Ayrton down and in a spare moment, I asked him if I could “pop round” to his house one day and take some photos. He was fairly good about it and said “sure, no problem” but I sort of had my doubts if he really meant it. Later on in the day, after practice had finished, I was driving out of the car park, when I happened to see Ayrton again, driving a long black Mercedes just in front of me. I was younger then and slightly foolhardy. So I thought to myself, I may as well follow him from a discreet distance and try to see exactly where he lives. I thought I should be able to keep up: the M25 is a pretty crowded motorway and just how fast can he go?

Well, the answer was a darn site faster than me, that’s how fast. When we got down to the M25, I managed to keep up with him for about 500 yards. And I was driving a car that could do over 130mph. But I honestly didn’t see him for dust.

This photograph is from the year after, at Silverstone. And I never did get to do that session with him in his house.