Showdown at Suzuka
Much speculation surrounds Ayrton Senna’s encounter with Eddie Irvine after the 1993 Japanese GP. The following is a transcript of that now infamous event …
The scene: Eddie Irvine is sitting alone on a table in the Jordan cabin. Jordan’s commercial manager, Rubens Barichello and several other people, mostly Team members, are also present. Suzuka was Irvine’s first ever F1 race and everyone is watching a re-run of the Senna-Hill-Irvine incident.
Suddenly the door opens and in walks Ayrton Senna accompanied by Norman Howell, director of communications for McLaren and Giorgio Ascanelli, Senna’s engineer.
Senna is looking for Irvine, but either he doesn’t see him or he doesn’t recognise him. Eddie Irvine raises his hand and Senna walks over to him …
Irvine : Here!
Senna : What the **** do you think you were doing?
Irvine : I was racing!
Senna : You were racing? Do you know the rule that you’re supposed to let the leaders come by when you’re a back marker?
Irvine : If you were going fast enough, it was no problem.
Senna : I overtook you! And you went three times off the road in front of me, at the same place, like ****ing idiot, where there was oil. And you were throwing stones and all things in front of me for three laps. When I took you, you realised I was ahead of you. And when I came up behind Hill, because he was on slicks and in difficulties, you should have stayed behind me. You took a very big risk to put me out of the race.
Irvine : Where did I put you in any danger?
Senna : You didn’t put me in any danger?
Irvine : Did I touch you? Did I touch you once?
Senna : No, but you were that much from touching me, and I happened to be the ****ing leader. I HAPPENED TO BE THE ****ING LEADER!
Irvine : A miss is as good as a mile.
Senna : I tell you something. If you don’t behave properly in the next event, you can just rethink what you do. I can guarantee you that.
Irvine : The stewards said “No problem. Nothing was wrong.”
Senna : Yeah? You wait till Australia. You wait till Australia, when the stewards will talk to you. Then you tell me if they tell you this.
Irvine : Hey, I’m out there to do the best for me.
Senna : This is not correct. You want to do well. I understand, because I’ve been there I understand. But it’s very unprofessional. If you are a back marker, because you happen to be lapped …
Irvine : But I would have followed you if you’d overtaken Hill!
Senna : You should let the leader go by …
Irvine : I understand that fully!
Senna : … and not come by and do the things you did. You nearly hit Hill in front of me three times, because I saw, and I could of collected you and him as a result, and that’s not the way to do that.
Irvine : But I’m racing! I’m racing! You just happened to …
Senna : You’re not racing! You’re driving like a ****ing idiot. You’re not a racing driver, you’re a ****ing idiot!
Irvine: You talk, you talk. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Senna : I was in the wrong place at the wrong time?
Irvine : Yes. I was battling with Hill.
Senna : Really? Really? Just tell me one thing. Who is supposed to have the call? You, or the leader of the race who comes through to lap you?
Irvine : The leader of the race.
Senna : So what have you done?
Irvine : You, you were too slow, and I had to overtake you to try to get at Hill.
Senna : Really? How did I lap you if I was too slow?
Irvine : Rain. Because on slicks you were quicker than me, on wets you weren’t.
Senna : Really? Really? How did I come and overtake you on wets?
Irvine : Huh?
Senna : How come I overtook you on wets?
Irvine : I can’t remember that. I don’t actually remember the race.
Senna : Exactly. Because you are not competent enough to remember. That’s how it goes you know.
Irvine : Fair enough. Fair enough. That’s what you think.
Senna : You be careful guy.
Irvine : I will. I’ll watch out for you.
Senna : You’re gonna have problems not with me only, but with lots of other guys, also the FIA.
Irvine : Yeah?
Senna : You bet.
Irvine : Yeah? Good.
Senna : Yeah? It’s good to know that.
Irvine : See you out there.
Senna : It’s good to know that.
Irvine : See you out there …
Appearing to turn away Senna then turns back and hits Irvine with his left hand. The blow lands on the right side of Irvine’s head. Irvine loses his balance and falls off the table. Senna is still shouting as he is hustled towards the door.
Irvine yells “Insurance claim there!”
Senna (leaving) retorts “You got to learn to respect where you’re going wrong!”