Against The Wall (1994) Review

Yes, you read the title correctly, this is a review of a 17 year old film. I did mean to watch a film in this decade at least, but in my defence I was running out of space on my Sky HD box and it was in HD. In fact it’s the only place you can watch in HD.

This does contain spoilers, but I feel they don’t actually spoil the film. But if your sensitive to these kind of things, then just watch the film by any means you can.

Ok so yes, this is not a new film. What’s worse is this film was, wait for it, made for TV!! But just hold back all your horrid thoughts of shite dramas or Sy Fy atrocities. The TV channel in question is HBO. Yeah, thought that’s make you think twice. So we get a decent budget ( I cannot find the amount ) and a great cast involving Kyle MacLachian (Twin Peaks, Blue Velvet), Samuel L. Jackson (Pulp Fiction, 51st State), Harry Dean Stanton (The Green Mile, Alien) and Tom Bower (The Killer Inside Me, Raising Cain). Having seen this back at it’s release on something called VHS, it was repeated recently on the greatest channel in the UK, Sky Atlantic HD. It had to be watched again.

The film is a dramatisation of the New York housed Attica prison riot in 1971 where the prisoners in retaliation to the awful conditions and the shooting of fellow prisoner at the infamous San Quentin Prison (though I don’t recall this being shown in the film). They over powered the guards and took over the prison for four days taking 33 of the staff hostage.

We follow newbie guard Michael Smith (MacLachlan), who’s family like many in Attica, revolved around the prison. It’s not like his life’s dream, but a new wife and child on the way, it’s the overtime that draws him reluctantly to join the staff at the pretty god damn horrid correctional facility. At first his kindness is take to task by the prisoners though he is quickly pulled back into line by his fellow guards and management. This lesson comes in the form of being introduced and asked to humiliate inmate, Jamall X (Jackson), a notorious black activist well know to Attica as being a “Bad Mutha F***er” . Whilst the reluctant Smith follows his seniors orders, we see the beings of a friendship between the two which will later, flourish and be tested.

But soon after, an incident over hot soup ( and not the mentioned shooting at San Quentin ) we see the prisoners reaching their limit and begin to very quickly take over the prison. This is where we get to see HBO flex it’s adult ratings, with some horrific, violent scenes. Sure in todays standards, it’s not quite got the hit as I got from it back in the day, it’s still carries a brutal hit. Multiple beatings to the powerless guards and their keys are taken, half of the 2000 prisons joined the uprising and so quickly the Attica prison surrenders to the rioters.

We then follow the fruitless negotiations by the State and prison authorities, which could not agree to all the prisoners’ demands which included complete amnesty of the takeover and the eventual death of one of the guards. During which Smiths determination not to bow down and beg to rioters demeaning treatment to their hostages. This intrigues Jamall and their relationship develops into a tested friendship in that Jamall protects Smiths life on more than one occasion from the rioting gang whom are getting restless with the lack of respect given to them by the state. The failure of the appearance of the State Governor Nelson Rockefeller which seems to be the crux of their demands and with no side wanting to back down, the violent end is nigh. Just like Waco Texas, state police go mental and take back the prison.

What follows is quite the most absurd battle in which, nearly a third of the prison guards are killed. Not by the prisoners, but by the police. This is no surprise of course really given the more recent events of Waco and famous incidents in recent wars. What is more shocking is the aftermath. Serious beatings to the surviving inmates, the emergence of utterly false newspaper stories and the complete lack of investigation into the incident and treatment to the prisoners after it all ended.

The film does a decent job of portraying the real events and a few captions at the end credits tell us of some of the aftermath that follows. There is some decent acting from the main characters of Jackson and MacLachian and good back up jobs from the lesser roles. Like many true story re-enactments, the fact that what your watching is more or less true takes it film up a notch or two. So the thing you take away from this film is that this actually happened and not that its a brilliant film. However, given that it doesn’t stray too far from the truth, it’s a great visual addition to just reading about it. Well worth watching as it’s shocking, well acted, pretty true to its source and it’s by far the best TV film you’ll ever watch.


The real story of Attica can be found here –


Film reviewed by Invisiblekid

Vettel victorious in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel took his sixteenth career Grand Prix victory with a commanding drive at the Valencia street circuit.

The world championship leader led from the front and was able to resist the challenges from both Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber to take the chequered flag in style for the sixth time this season.

Alonso finished a very encouraging second for Scuderia Ferrari in front of his home crowd. Both Ferraris had jumped Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren at the start, with the flying Felipe Massa dodging between Hamilton and Alonso, then trying to get down the inside of Mark Webber for second. But as he had to back out of the move, Alonso went around the outside of his team-mate and took third.

Alonso then stayed close behind Webber and managed to grab second position with an outbraking move on lap 21. The Spaniard could not shake the Australian off, and when the Red Bull made its second stop one lap sooner, Webber was able to vault back ahead of Alonso.

But the battle was not over, as at the final tyre changes Alonso regained the advantage by running three laps further on used softs while Webber was on his new medium tyres. The Ferrari rejoined just in front, and any hope Webber had of coming back at Alonso ended when the Red Bull team ordered him to back off and take care of a gearbox finish. He held on for third spot.

Running longer at most pit-stops did not help Massa, who fell back to fifth in the end behind Hamilton. The McLaren driver was left struggling with pace during the middle stint on the soft Pirellis.

Canadian Grand Prix winner Jenson Button had a very low-key race. He was passed by Nico Rosberg at the start and by the time he had dived back ahead of the Mercedes with a bold move at Turn 2 on lap six, the rest of the leaders were out of reach. A later KERS fault ensured Button would finish in a disappointing sixth.

Rosberg took seventh, having battled for a while with the impressive Jaime Alguersuari, as the Toro Rosso driver converted his P18 grid position to an eighth place finish by making a two-stop strategy work while everyone else had to pit three times. Alguersuari fended off Adrian Sutil to the flag, as the Force India escaped from an early battle with Nick Heidfeld’s tenth placed Renault.

Sauber’s Sergio Perez adopted a one-stop strategy – just like Melbourne – but alas, the Mexican just finish outside the points with P11.

Michael Schumacher’s hopes of points ended when he made contact with Vitaly Petrov’s Renault as he rejoined the track from the pits following his first tyre change. That meant an extra stop for a new front wing, leaving the Mercedes in P17. Petrov was only P15, having never really recovered from a bad start.

Remarkably, all twenty-four cars started the European Grand Prix and after 57 laps in the warm conditions, there were no retirements. Although only the top seven finished on the lead lap.

Vettel’s sixth win out of eight means his championship lead is now more than three wins’ worth of points. By salvaging third place Webber is now tied for second with Jenson Button.

The next race is the home of motor racing, Silverstone. With the ban on the cold/hot air blown exhaust for the British Grand Prix, will we see a change in form? And can anyone catch the flying Red Bull and the superb Sebastian Vettel? We will find out next month.

Race results from Valencia, 57 laps:
1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h39:36.169
2.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +10.891
3.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +27.255
4.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +46.190
5.  Massa         Ferrari                    +51.705
6.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +1:00.000
7.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +1:38.000
8.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
9.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
10.  Heidfeld      Renault                    +1 lap
11.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
12.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
13.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
14.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
15.  Petrov        Renault                    +1 lap
16.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +1 lap
17.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +1 lap
18.  Maldonado     Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
19.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Renault              +2 laps
20.  Trulli        Lotus-Renault              +2 laps
21.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +2 laps
22.  D’Ambrosio    Virgin-Cosworth            +2 laps
23.  Liuzzi        HRT-Cosworth               +3 laps
24.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +3 laps

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:41.852

World Championship standings, round 8:

1.  Vettel       186
2.  Webber       109
3.  Button       109
4.  Hamilton      97
5.  Alonso        87
6.  Massa         42
7.  Rosberg       32
8.  Petrov        31
9.  Heidfeld      30
10.  Schumacher    26
11.  Kobayashi     25
12.  Sutil         10
13.  Alguersuari    8
14.  Buemi          8
15.  Barrichello    4
16.  Perez          2
17.  Di Resta       2

1.  Red Bull-Renault          295
2.  McLaren-Mercedes          206
3.  Ferrari                   129
4.  Renault                    61
5.  Mercedes                   58
6.  Sauber-Ferrari             27
7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         16
8.  Force India-Mercedes       12
9.  Williams-Cosworth           4

Next race: British Grand Prix, Silverstone. July 8-10.

Red Bull Racing front row in Valencia

Sebastian Vettel achieved his twenty-second career pole position – his seventh from eight Grands Prix – with an impressive lap around the Valencia street circuit.

The world championship leader’s time of one minute, 36.975 seconds is the fastest ever lap and his margin over his team-mate Mark Webber was 0.188 seconds. And yet significantly four tenths of a second clear of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Despite a change to the engine mapping settings enforced by the sport’s governing body, the sheer raw speed from the RB7 resulted in Red Bull Racing taking yet another front row grid position.

Lewis Hamilton will start third for McLaren, ahead of the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, while Montreal winner Jenson Button will start the European Grand Prix in sixth.

As for Mercedes, the team chose to only make a single Q3 run for both drivers. The end result is Nico Rosberg out-qualifying his team-mate Michael Schumacher by a margin of 0.009 seconds. The Silver Arrows will line up on row four.

Nick Heidfeld is ninth for Renault with Adrian Sutil completing the top ten for Force India. Both elated not to take part in Q3 in order to save tyres for the race.

Sutil’s last-minute progress into the top ten shootout came at the expense of Renault’s Vitaly Petrov, which was the only real upset in this three-part qualifying session.

Paul di Resta joined the Russian on row six in the second Force India, ahead of Rubens Barrichello’s Williams and Kamui Kobayashi in the Sauber.

A brief red flag period interrupted Q2 when Pastor Maldonado spun his Williams to a halt in the middle of the track. But the Formula One rookie had already done a time good enough to secure P15 on the grid ahead of Sergio Perez and Sebastien Buemi.

Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari will start in P18, ahead of the Lotus duo of Heikki Kovalainen and Jarno Trulli. The latter tried in vain to go faster than his team-mate but spun on  his final Q1 run.

All the drivers comfortably made the 107 per cent qualifying cut, with the Hispania of Tonio Liuzzi splitting the Virgin Racing as he edged ahead of Jerome D’Ambrosio.

Qualifying times from Valencia:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1m36.975s
2.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1m37.163s
3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.380s
4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1m37.454s
5.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1m37.535s
6.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1m37.645s
7.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1m38.231s
8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1m38.240s
9.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault               No time
10.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes  No time
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m39.068s
12.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m39.422s
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m39.489s
14.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m39.525s
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    1m39.645s
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m39.657s
17.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m39.711s
18.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m40.232s
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m41.664s
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m42.234s
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m42.553s
22.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         1m43.584s
23.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m43.735s
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m44.363s

107 per cent time: 1m45.301s

Button takes victory in thrilling Canadian Grand Prix

Jenson Button scored a sensational victory in the Canadian Grand Prix, passing world champion Sebastian Vettel on the final lap in a rain-affected race that lasted four hours.

The McLaren driver bounced back after two collisions – with Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso – a drive-through penalty and six visits to the Montreal pitlane.

Button’s victory came only after Vettel lost the lead on the final lap due to a driving error with just a handful of corners left.

The world champion had dominated the race from the start but came under pressure from a flying Button in the end.

Mark Webber was third for Red Bull Racing, with Michael Schumacher in fourth position – his best result since coming back to Formula One – and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov in fifth.

Felipe Massa was the only Ferrari driver to finish the race with sixth, after beating Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi to the spot right on the finish line. The margin between the pair was only 0.045 seconds!

Jaime Alguersuari, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Buemi completed the points-paying positions.

The Canadian Grand Prix started under the safety car, as the race director deemed the track was too wet for a standing start. The decision meant all twenty-four drivers had to start with the full wet tyres from Pirelli. The Drag Reduction System was also disabled while the track was wet for safety reasons.

The safety car dived into the pits after five laps, and Vettel managed to keep the lead despite an attack from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Vettel’s team-mate Webber was not so lucky, however, and spun after making contact with the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton into the opening corners. The Australian was able to recover but was down in P14. Hamilton also lost some positions with the contact and he dropped behind team-mate Button after going wide at the hairpin while fighting with Michael Schumacher.

Hamilton tried to regain the lost position on lap seven, only to make contact with Button as he tried to pass on the main straight. Hamilton had been quicker coming out of the final chicane and tried to pass his team-mate on the left, only for Button to close the gap.

Their cars made contact and Hamilton hit the wall, retiring from the Canadian Grand Prix a few corners later and forcing the deployment of the safety car after parking his damaged car after Turn 5. Button pitted for repairs and rejoined in P12.

The race was restarted again on lap 12, with Vettel still leading from Alonso and Massa. Immediately afterwards, race control announced a drive-through penalty for Button for having sped under the safety car period. He had already made a visit to the pits to change to the intermediate tyres in the first stop and this penalty meant he dropped further behind.

While at the front, Vettel increased his lead quite comfortably, but Alonso decided to pit for intermediates on lap 18, seeing that Button was the fastest man on track.

Alonso rejoined in eighth, right in front of Vitaly Petrov and Button himself, but the rain became a downpour moments later and the safety car was deployed for the third time, with Alonso deciding to pit again for full wets.

Leader Vettel and team-mate Webber pitted for full wets during this safety car period, with the Australian also getting a new steering wheel as he was having problems shifting down gears.

Several drivers followed suit into the pits, leaving Vettel in the lead again, ahead of Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi – who had not stopped – and Massa.

Still under the safety car, Vettel told his Red Bull Racing team on the radio that it was impossible to drive and that the race should be stopped. On lap 25, Vettel’s wish was granted, and the Grand Prix was red-flagged.

Nearly two hours after it was stopped, the race was restarted behind the safety car and with mandatory full wet weather tyres.

Heikki Kovalainen became the second retirement even before the safety car was back in, the Finn suffering a driveshaft failure on lap 30.

After nine laps on track, the safety car drove into pits and the race was launched with Vettel out front, followed by Kobayashi, who managed to keep Massa at bay at the first corner.

The majority of the field pitted as soon as it was allowed to fit intermediates tyre, although Vettel stayed out for a couple of laps, before the safety car was deployed again when Button made contact with Alonso when trying to pass at Turn 3.

Button touched the Ferrari’s right rear wheel and sent the Spaniard into a spin, his car getting stuck on the kerbs. The McLaren driver had to pit again to change his punctured Pirelli.

At the time of the fourth safety car period, Vettel led from Kobayashi, Massa, Heidfeld, Paul di Resta and Webber, with Button dropping down to the back of the field.

The race resumed on lap 41, with Vettel opening a clear gap right away as Kobayashi held a train of cars behind him.

There was a lot action behind the race leader, with several position changes, which included a clash between Heidfeld and di Resta, the Scot having to pit for a new front wing.

Heidfeld’s team-mate Petrov was given a drive-through penalty moments later for having overtaken while the safety car was still on track.

Despite the track being still wet, the race director enabled the use of the Drag Reduction System on lap 45.

By lap 50 – with twenty to the chequered flag – Vettel was leading Kobayashi by over six seconds and Massa by seven, with Schumacher having charged to fourth.

On lap 51, Webber became the first of the lead drivers to change to slick tyres, as Schumacher passed both Massa and Kobayashi and set his sights on Vettel, both still on intermediates.

However, Vettel was still the quickest driver on track, extending his lead over Schumacher to eleven seconds by lap 52. Schumacher pitted for slicks a lap later, with Massa following suit.

Vettel changed his Pirellis a lap later, as team-mate Webber showed slicks were the way to go, lapping three seconds faster than the championship leader. Vettel rejoined the race in the lead, while Massa was forced to come into the pits after damaging his front wing when losing control of his car while lapping an HRT.

With 13 laps to go, the safety car was deployed for the fifth time when Heidfeld crashed out following contact with Kobayashi. The Renault driver had damaged his front wing in the clash, and then it got under his car at speed, sending him off the track. Luckily he was able to stop the car without making contact with the barriers.

However the safety car was deployed while the Renault’s wing debris was cleared.

With nine laps to the flag, the race was relaunched once more with Vettel on top, followed by Schumacher, Webber, Button and Kobayashi.

Vettel continued his flawless run, opening a gap quickly as Webber and Button pushed a slower Schumacher hard.

Webber passed Schumacher with six laps to go, but had to let German through as he had jumped the final chicane.

On the following lap he made the same mistake again, this time losing third place to Button. The McLaren driver took second with five laps left, passing Schumacher comfortably and launching his attack on Vettel.

Webber finally captured third place from Schumacher with three laps left, but all eyes were on the battle at the front.

Vettel picked up the pace but Button continued to take several tenths of a second out of his lead per lap. On the penultimate lap he was able to use his DRS and take more time out of Vettel’s lead.

The pair began the final lap with Button within a second and poised to pounce in the DRS zone. But it was decided before then as Vettel put two wheels on the still-damp surface at turn six and slewed sideways, allowing Button through to claim an improbable win.

It was a fantastic performance by Jenson Button. Not only he made six visits to the pits for tyre changes, repairs and a drive-through penalty, but also he was at one point last in the field. He responded with a determined drive to pass the world champion on the final lap.

Vettel looked despondent after losing the lead he had held for almost the whole Grand Prix. But he retains a healthy 60-point margin over Button, who is now second in the title race.

Race results from Montreal:
1.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       4h04:39.537
2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault         +2.709
3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault         +13.828
4.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                 +14.219
5.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                  +20.395
6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                  +33.225
7.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari           +33.270
8.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari       +35.964
9.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth        +45.117
10.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari       +47.056
11.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                 +50.454
12.  Pedro de la Rosa      Sauber-Ferrari           +1m03.607s
13.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth             +1 Lap
14.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth          +1 Lap
15.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth          +1 Lap
16.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault            +1 Lap
17.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth             +1 Lap
18.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes     +3 Laps

Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth           61 laps
Nick Heidfeld         Renault                     55 laps
Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes        49 laps
Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                     36 laps
Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault               28 laps
Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes            7 laps

World Championship standings, round 7:

1.  Sebastian Vettel      161
2.  Jenson Button         101
3.  Mark Webber           94
4.  Lewis Hamilton        85
5.  Fernando Alonso       69
6.  Felipe Massa          32
7.  Vitaly Petrov         31
8.  Nick Heidfeld         29
9.  Michael Schumacher    26
10.  Nico Rosberg          26
11.  Kamui Kobayashi       25
12.  Adrian Sutil          8
13.  Sebastien Buemi       8
14.  Jaime Alguersuari     4
15.  Rubens Barrichello    4
16.  Sergio Perez          2
17.  Paul Di Resta         2

1.  Red Bull-Renault        255
2.  McLaren-Mercedes        186
3.  Ferrari                 101
4.  Renault                 60
5.  Mercedes                52
6.  Sauber-Ferrari          27
7.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari      12
8.  Force India-Mercedes    10
9.  Williams-Cosworth       4

Next race: European Grand Prix, Valencia. June 24-26.

Vettel beats Ferrari challenge to take Canada pole

World championship leader Sebastian Vettel secured his sixth pole position of the season, fending off the Scuderia drivers to the top spot at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Vettel’s lap time of one minute, 13.014 seconds placed him ahead of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. This was the strongest qualifying performance by Ferrari so far.

His Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber had to settle for a position on the second row of the grid after securing fourth.

Despite being tipped as one of the favourites to fight for pole and race victory in Canada, McLaren endured a rather low-key day, with last year’s winner Lewis Hamilton in fifth position while team-mate Jenson Button was seventh, behind Mercedes GP’s Nico Rosberg.

As for Michael Schumacher, he will start the Canadian Grand Prix in eighth position.

Both Renaults made it into the top-ten this round, with Nick Heidfeld qualifying in ninth position ahead of Vitaly Petrov.

It was another strong qualifying performance from Paul di Resta, who secured P11 for Force India. This is impressive considering team-mate Adrian Sutil could only managed P14.

Pastor Maldonado was another Formula One rookie keen to make an impact in the sport with the Venezuelan driver outqualifying the more experience Rubens Barrichello by a margin of four grid positions. The Williams drivers will start in P12 and P16 respectively.

Following Sergio Perez’s qualifying crash in Monaco, Pedro de la Rosa will represent the Sauber team in Canada. The reserve driver put in a decent performance despite his lack of running on track, making it to Q2 and finishing around three tenths off team-mate Kobayashi in P17.

Jarno Trulli outqualified Lotus team-mate Heikki Kovalainen, as both drivers were again out in Q1. They were joined by Tonio Liuzzi in the Hispania, who managed to outpace both Virgin Racing, with Timo Glock in P22 and Jerome D’Ambrosio last behind Narain Karthikeyan.

As for D’Ambrosio, the Belgian failed to qualify for the race after finishing nearly half a second off the 107 per cent time. But he will be allowed to take part, as the Virgin Racing driver is fast enough when compared to his lap times set in the opening practice session.

Qualifying times from Montreal:
1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m13.014s
2.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m13.199s
3.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m13.217s
4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m13.429s
5.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m13.565s
6.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m13.814s
7.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m13.838s
8.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m13.864s
9.  Nick Heidfeld         Renault              1m14.062s
10.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault              1m14.085s
11.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m14.752s
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth    1m15.043s
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m15.285s
14.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m15.287s
15.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m15.334s
16.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth    1m15.361s
17.  Pedro de la Rosa      Sauber-Ferrari       1m15.587s
18.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m16.294s
19.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault        1m16.745s
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m16.786s
21.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth         1m18.424s
22.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth      1m18.537s
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         1m18.574s
24.  Jerome D’Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth      1m19.414s

107 per cent time: 1m18.989

Senna – film review

Seventeen years after that fateful day at Imola, in which the legendary Brazilian Ayrton Senna was killed at the wheel of a Formula One racing car, Asif Kapadia’s documentary film reveal a fascinating insight into the three-time world champion.

With access to the Formula One Management’s extensive video archive, the producers – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, James Gay-Rees and Manish Pandey – tells the story of Ayrton Senna’s life and career through original video footage, much of it never before seen.

The uses of talking head interviews or a narrator were taken out, instead voice-overs from several contributors including journalists, former racing drivers and Senna himself, plus addition clips from television commentaries tells the story.

The film starts with Senna’s arrival in Formula One in the mid 1980s. Driving for Toleman at a soaking wet Monaco Grand Prix in 1984, the Brazilian demonstrated his amazing wet weather talent. The following year, representing Team Lotus in the classic black and gold John Player Special livery car, Ayrton Senna won his maiden Grand Prix at a rain-soaked Portuguese Grand Prix.

The film then shifts to his rivalry with Alain Prost, his team-mate at McLaren. The battle for on-track supremacy with his nemesis was intense, with the Brazilian determined to win at all cost.

Two important moments in the rising hostility between Senna and Prost are omitted in the film. These were the wheel-to-wheel duel at Estoril in 1988 and the row that erupted over the restart at Imola in 1989.

But the sequences of events at Suzuka in 1989 and 1990 prove to be the main focal point in the film.

In a bid to remain in the contention for the world title, Senna had to win the Japanese Grand Prix. The only problem was his McLaren team-mate Prost. He had to overtake his rival in order to win the championship.

Approaching the chicane, Senna tried an inside move on Prost. The Frenchman turned his car into the apex and the two McLarens ended up with their wheels interlocked in the Suzuka chicane escape road. Prost got out from his car and yet Senna got a push-start from the track marshals to re-join the race.

He took the lead from the Benetton of Alessandro Nannini and went on to finish first, only to be disqualified by the sport’s governing body for cutting the chicane after the collision and for crossing into the pit lane entry.

A large fine and temporary suspension of his Super License followed. Senna was furious and engaged in a bitter war of words with the FIA and its then President Jean-Marie Balestre.

Even though the film portrays Prost as his nemeses, in turns out that the FIA President is ultimately the main villain. The footage in the drivers’ briefing providing glimpses of Balestre’s heavy-handed and partisan interventions to do Senna no favours at all.

The following year, at the same circuit where the pair had their collision, Senna took pole ahead of Prost. The pole position in Suzuka was on the right-hand, dirty side of the track. Alain Prost made a better start in the Ferrari and pulled ahead of Ayrton Senna’s McLaren. Going into the first turn, Senna aggressively kept his line and never lifted the throttle, while Prost turned in and the McLaren ploughed into the rear wheel of the Ferrari at about 170 mph, putting both cars off the track, and sealing the championship to the Brazilian.

Twelve months later, after taking his third world championship, Senna explained to the press his actions at Suzuka 1990.

He maintained that prior to qualifying fastest, he had sought and received assurances from race officials that pole position would be changed to the left-hand, clean side of the track, only to find this decision reversed by Jean-Marie Balestre after he had taken pole.

Explaining the collision with Prost, Senna said that what he had wanted was to make it clear that he was not going to accept what he perceived as unfair decision making by Balestre, including his disqualification in 1989 and the pole position in 1990.

Prost would later go on record slamming Senna’s actions as “disgusting” and that he seriously considered retiring from the sport after that incident.

The film reaches a poignant and moving conclusion with that awful weekend in Imola, with the final sequence of events striking an emotional chord.

There are some astonishing moments in which we see Senna’s devastated reaction to the death of Roland Ratzenberger and the hospitalisation of Rubens Barrichello, which ironically inspired the Brazilian to recreate the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association to improve track safety, mere hours before his own death.

To the credit of director Asif Kapadia, the final few minutes with Senna losing control of his Williams-Renault and the national mourning in Brazil are beautifully handed. It’s tragic that we have the lost one of the greatest Formula One driver in the history of the sport but how this film presented the Brazilian as a hero and a Saint (He donated millions to his native country to provide a better life for the poor) is a remarkable achievement in film making.

In fact, Kapadia’s film on Senna won the World Cinema Audience Award for documentaries at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and it fully deserves the acclamation. Highly recommended.