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Did Senna Really Want to Leave F1 for IndyCar?

...or indeed he was just bluffing?

In the wake of today's Jalopnik front-page story (to much of my surprise) on IndyCar and Long Beach and because yesterday was Senna Day, I started pondering about whether the legendary race driver did - in fact - want to quit Formula 1 for American open-wheel racing.


Saying today that e.g. Sebastian Vettel would join IndyCar from 2015 - for being dissatisfied with the Red Bull car - would be quite senseless for a number of reasons, but particularly because

  • F1 is a World Championship
  • on a global level IndyCar is invisible
  • really, why?

Ayrton Senna was, though, in a very similar situation in 1992. The McLaren wasn't a world-beater any more. That isn't saying it was a bad car, but the then-top Williams team tackled active suspension system much better than anyone else, paired with a fine chassis and one of the best engines at the time.


Simply speaking, Ayrton's argument was that he wasn't able to win championships against that car.

But did he really mean it?

Going back to the early 90s, it has to be noted that CART then was massive. At the time it was battling with F1 in success. A champion in CART would be as much known as a World Champion, especially if it was Senna (see Nigel Mansell for 1993).

His said adventure in 1992 was no more than a quick test at a short course with an old chassis Penske and somewhat dodgy tyres in the dusty bowl, nevertheless he ran some truly remarkable laps and walked off. Most likely it was a publicity stunt for McLaren and Penske's mutual sponsor, Marlboro (also see: Tony Stewart vs. Lewis Hamilton at The Glen).


Was he perhaps running for success by all means, so much, that he was ready to give up the top category for the second best thing if it meant winning? Remember, he was three-time and reigning World Champion at the time.

If he joined CART, what would have been the impact to the respective racing series?


Or in reality it just was - for him - what it really was: a publicity stunt where he felt he could learn a thing or two.

What's your take on this?

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