April 29, 2024


Special episode with Dax Shepard: F1 and the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s death

Senna lived 10 lives in his 34 years. And not only that, he's one of the few people who still matters in his death.” —Peter Attia

Read Time 36 minutes

This is a special episode of The Drive with Peter’s friend and fellow car enthusiast Dax Shepard. In this podcast, which commemorates the 30th anniversary of the death of Brazilian Formula One legend Ayrton Senna, Dax sits down with Peter to better understand what made Senna so special and why Peter remains an enormous fan. This conversation focuses on Senna’s life, the circumstances of his death, and his lasting impact and legacy on the sport of F1. 



We discuss:

  • Peter’s interest in motorsports began as a child [2:30];
  • The drama and dangers of F1 [6:00];
  • What made Senna special [13:00];
  • What Senna meant to Brazilians [24:00];
  • The cause of the fatal crash [28:15];
  • Why Peter is obsessed with Senna [40:30];
  • Being the best versus having the best record [43:30];
  • Senna’s unique driving style and incredible intuition about automotive engineering [46:30];
  • Back to the day of the dreadful race [53:00];
  • What Peter believes caused the crash [1:02:45];
  • Views on dying young, in the prime of life [1:13:00;
  • Senna lives on in his foundation and in safety changes adopted by F1 [1:21:00];
  • Statistics aren’t enough for fandom, and why people like who they do [1:24:15];
  • The biggest difference between F1 today and F1 in the 80s [1:28:30];
  • Senna’s driving superpower [1:30:30];
  • The fastest drivers currently in F1 [1:38:30];
  • Current F1 obsessions [1:45:00];
  • How hard it is to do what the top F1 drivers do [1:50:15];
  • Dax’s love of motorcycles and his AMG E63 station wagon [1:52:15];
  • Awesome Senna mementos from Etsy [2:01:15];
  • What makes Specialists interesting, and Max’s devotion to F1 [2:10:15];
  • What Senna might have done if he had not died that day [2:14:00];
  • Michael Schumacher and Max Verstappen are also top F1 drivers [2:17:30];
  • Interlagos in Sao Paulo Brazil is always an incredible experience [2:18:45]; and 
  • More.


Peter’s interest in motorsports began as a child [2:30]

  • Growing up in Canada, IndyCar was incredibly popular and F1 was incredibly popular
  • You have Montreal for F1
  • You always had the IndyCar in Toronto race
  • And because Peter’s dad was in the restaurant business, he was buying beer by the truckload and Molson was the beer in Canada, and they would give you tickets
    • They went to races
  • When Peter came of age in the 80s he was really into cars
    • He had posters of cars and boxers on his wall 
  • Dax was also obsessed with cars, but never overly obsessed with racing
  • He would go to Belle Isle to see Indy car because his family worked in the automotive business
    • There was not RV coverage, and you just got to watch the profile of a car for 1/10th of a second
      • He couldn’t buy in
  • Today F1 is one of the sports that is infinitely better on television, from a total experience in terms of understanding what’s going on
  • That said, Peter probably goes to 3 races a year
  • The sound though is nowhere near as good in the 80s
    • Once the  hybrid era cam in 2014
  • Dax is late to the F1 obsession
  • The first racing he loved was MotoGP 20 years ago


The drama and dangers of F1 [6:00]

  • Max is a Drive to Survive convert 
    • Peter loves it 
  • Dax loves finding out about how relevant the aerodynamics are and how high-tech it is
  • The show does a great job shing the drama that exists between 14th and 8th place
    • How important it is that these teams finish in the points or to get one point
  • The Max/ Lewis season of 2021 was exceptional
  • The last 2 episodes of the prior season were 2 of the finest: “Man on Fire” & “Guenther’s Choice”

This highlighted: when you’re watching a sport like F1 or MotoGP or anything for that matter, there is a real chance a person could die, and it’s really frightening when you see some of these accidents 

  • Dax points out they’re going 205 mph
  • There was a day when most of these accidents were fatal 
    • Until the early 80s 2-4 F1 drivers died a year
  • Dax and Peter have been talking all week about the many thing that have changed so dramatically
  • They’re both watching the series Turning Point 
    • To learn that in 1 night of bombing of Tokyo, 87,000 people died
      • That’s more than all of Vietnam, by a factor of 30,000
  • We don’t have the appetite for any of that stuff anymore
  • Peter started watching F1 religiously in the late 80s when he was a kid, but his obsession was much more boxing
  • F1 would come on on bizarre hours
  • When he got into med school and became friend switch Paul Conti, and they immediately connected over their shared obsession for F1 and for Senna

The late 80s-early 90s was the golden era of F1, there was an insane depth of talent 

  • You had Niki Lauda at the end of his career, still winning a championship in the mid 80s. And then the arrival of Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, of course, Nelson Piquet and Senna
  • Dax walked through McLaren through the boulevard and noted how small the F1 cars are (like Go-Karts)
  • They were 500 kilo cars back then but could still make >1000 hp

{end of show notes preview}

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Dax Shepard

Dax Shepard is an actor, comedian, filmmaker, and host of the podcast Armchair Expert. Dax races motorcycles at Buttonwillow Raceway. He is also an avid car enthusiast, and owns the 1967 Lincoln Continental that was featured in the movie Hit and Run

Instagram: @daxshepard

Podcast: Armchair Expert

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  1. Thank you for this amazing podcast.

    Been a fan of F1 since 1978 (5yrs old) because of my dad, Gilles V. and the GP in Mtl.

    I remember Gilles and Ayrton’s deaths and where I was when I witnessed them.

    Paletti was the last death before Imola 94.

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