Photographer Jon Nicholson
Ayrton Senna (1960 -1994)
‘Pausing for Breath: A Retrospective’
Starts 14th June 2019
(Please scroll down for further details on Ayrton Senna photograph)
1st May 2019 sees the 25 year anniversary of Senna’s death, making this exhibition incredibly timely to remember one of Formula One’s most legendary icons.
The image of Ayrton Senna in his fire-proof racing hood was taken by Jon Nicholson on the Saturday morning before the first practice.
With a career spanning 35 years and many continents, Jon’s relentless passion for capturing the real story is the driving force behind his photography. From behind the F1 barriers to documenting global issues, Jon’s view from behind the lens manages to capture a depth of human emotion. Jon was ‘the man for behind the scenes’ in sport which granted him unprecedented access to top sports personalities and teams around the world, one in particular being the legendary Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.
Nicholson was working with friend Damon Hill documenting his year alongside Ayrton and it was at the Imola Grand Prix in San Marino in 1994 that Nicholson captured one of the last images ever taken of Senna. The image has remained hidden in a drawer for 24 years, for one reason only: the weekend of the Imola Grand Prix was such a horrible few days, seeing two deaths, multiple crashes and casualties, that it was best forgotten.
Ayrton Senna and Damon Hill in the debriefing room just before Senna’s fatal crash
Rediscovering the image of Senna, has bought back memories of the tragic day which Nicholson comments on as follows:
‘Ayrton seemed very much at peace, although he was under immense pressure to deliver for the Williams team. He hadn’t scored any points in the first three races. Williams and Ayrton were used to delivering results. My involvement came many years before, having known Damon Hill for a long time. We would go to Brands Hatch where Damon once pointed out Ayrton, saying he would be the best driver in the world…well a few years later he was.’
‘After the horrendous accident that caused the death of Roland Ratzenberger, I was sitting in the hotel lobby with a group of other photographers and the hotel owners watching over and over again Roland sitting in the car dying, the TV just wouldn’t stop, it was a weird sensation everybody was totally stunned. I just kept wondering how I was going to get up and go back to the circuit for race day, this just shouldn’t happen. Sunday morning arrived and it was business as usual but in a very somber way.’
‘12.00 o’clock midday and I was in the debrief room with Ayrton, Damon and the two race engineers. Ayrton sat there saying to me how he didn’t want to race, that they were making him race. I mean really what could he do about that? I told him to go and see Bernie.’
‘Two or so hours later he too was dead and the dread, the horror, the absolute disbelief of what had happened really struck home… the race went on, and chaos prevailed over the paddock. I left the circuit with one of the team members arriving at the airport to find TV already there waiting for Damon. They told me that it had been announced that Ayrton was dead.’
‘Looking at this picture now 25 years later it all comes flooding back what a tragic event it had been. I can’t help thinking ‘did he know what was going to happen?’ It’s a chilling image in some ways but also beautiful, he is calm and at peace. By chance I was looking for something completely different but when I opened the cabinet it was just staring back at me.’
Ayrton Senna (1960 – 1994) 40″ x 30″
Saturday 30th April 1994 Limited Edition of 25
Imola, Italy £15,000
The image of Senna will be seen alongside Jon’s other exquisite pieces of works from his extensive travels and experiences around the world, in his upcoming exhibition ‘Pausing for Breath: A Retrospective’.
The exhibition will run from 14th June – 10th August 2019 at Augustus Brandt, Newlands House in Petworth.
For further details please contact