Our Formula 1 driving clients have many different motivations behind them stepping up to take the wheel of an F1 but this one hit us on a personal level. A string of strange coincidences conspired to make the experience an extra special one for filmmaker, Florian Kaltenbach who tells the story in his own words …
“I cannot quit, I have to go on.”
(Ayrton Senna, 30 April 1994)
I had never heard of this quote until last Christmas when watching a documentary about Senna. After Barrichello’s nasty crash on Friday that weekend, Ratzenberger’s fatal accident on Saturday, Senna’s friend Dr. Sid Watkins recommended him not to race.
Senna replied: “Sid, there are certain things over which we have no control.” He couldn’t quit and went on. The things he had no control over weren’t on his side the next day letting Imola go down as one of the darkest weekends in the sports history.
Senna’s words above hit me like a wall on a personal level. After smashing it in a kart as a kid, just getting into the swing with my first real passion that I’ve been naturally good at, my safe space if you will, circumstances outside my control forced me to stop abruptly and unexpectedly. After four years of fighting I finally succumbed when my idol and inspiration (Senna) crashed and died shortly after. I never watched a race since and until last winter hadn’t realised the burning questions and frustrations I was carrying through life since. So, I decided to get behind a wheel this year.
The circuit I originally chose was fully booked, so the only shot I had was Portimao in Portugal, Senna’s favourite base when racing in Europe and country of his first F1 win. The FW33 that I wanted to drive I couldn’t afford, so I went for the Jaguar R2, though by a bizarre twist of circumstances I ended up having to drive the Williams instead — which I learnt was painted inspired by the Rothman’s paint of Senna’s Williams and it was raced by Rubens Barrichello. I was the only one wearing a HANS device on race day, potentially overdone, but I always felt I should. Later I learned it was introduced after Ratzenberger’s crash thanks to a driver initiative at Imola that included Senna. Two weeks ahead of the drive, again circumstances out of my control threatened the chances of me getting behind the wheel – heavy rain was forecast – though last minute the weather swung around and my session ended up being in dazzling golden sunshine. All the above of course are coincidences yet somehow a lot of them.
By the time Portugal came around, I already had answered all my questions in an 8-month intense build up. To me the actual day was about tying it all together and it couldn’t have happened in a more complete, fun and magical way. I remembered Senna’s line once more: “There are certain things over which we have no control.” This time particularly those things not in my control were taking things next level. As were my three close friends and main allies on this mind-blowing journey back behind the wheel — Rachael, Dean and Tom who will always have a special place in my heart.
Thank you Steve, Nick and Wildside team for making this unforgettable experience possible.
— Florian Kaltenbach, United Kingdom