Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo related Wednesday how he hoped to tempt Ayrton Senna away from Williams before the Brazilian’s tragic death at Imola.
Senna had signed a multi-year contract with Williams, but it’s well known that he did not feel comfortable in his early days at the team.
Montezemolo said Wednesday that he met Senna just before Imola to discuss the possibility of him joining, even hinting that Senna would have been willing to get out of his contract. Had he done so, he could have joined as early as 1995.
He’d had previous contacts with Ferrari in his McLaren days, but chose to stay put.
“I always appreciated Ayrton’s style of racing,” said Montezemolo on the Ferrari website. “As with all great champions, he had an incredible will to win and never tired of seeking perfection, trying to improve all the time. He was extraordinary in qualifying, but also a great battler in the races, when he always fought tooth and nail.
“He wanted to come to Ferrari and I wanted him in the team. When he was in Italy for the San Marino Grand Prix, we met at my home in Bologna on Wednesday, April 27. He told me he really appreciated the stand we had taken against the excessive use of electronic aids for driving, which didn’t allow a driver’s skill to shine through. We spoke for a long time and he made it clear to me that he wanted to end his career at Ferrari, having come close to joining us a few years earlier.
“We agreed to meet again soon, so as to look at how we could overcome his contractual obligations at the time. We were both in agreement that Ferrari would be the ideal place for him to further his career, which to date had been brilliant, even unique.
“Unfortunately, fate robbed all of us of Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger over one of the saddest weekends in Formula One history. Of Senna, I remember his kindness and his simple almost shy nature, which was in complete contrast to Senna the driver, a fighter always aiming for the best.”