Ayrton Senna is without question one of the most talented racing drivers ever to race Formula One – to many, he is the greatest. After his death in 1994 we have only the memories and the video of this supreme talent. Honda have one other thing – the data, and they took to Suzuka recently to recreate the sound of a stunning Senna lap. EFTM has the videos and the English language translation for you to enjoy.

Honda have published a fantastic website which features a couple of stunning videos you really have to watch if you’re an F1 fan.

The first is the actual recreation – taking a look at how Honda’s navigation system (internavi) has elements of the telemetry system which Honda perfected in the F1 car in the 80’s and was used to record every aspect of this lap in 1989.

For those not fluent in Japanese, our mate Mark has come to the rescue with some of the highlights from the video:

  • “A telemetry system that records and analyses data from the axle and engine.”
  • “In the 1980’s Honda swept the world when it introduced this technology to Formula 1”
  • “In the 1989 Japan Grand Prix preview race…”
  • “Ayrton Senna set a new world record for fastest lap time…”
  • “From the data recorded in that historic lap….”
  • “We re-created the sound of Senna’s engine from 24 years ago…”
  • “The technology that supported Senna’s record time…”
  • “Now, for all drivers….”
  • “Design your drive with data. Internavi.”

Then you can go behind the scenes, filling in that story with a bunch of interviews.

The first interviews explain the genesis of the original system. Honda engineers though it would be a good idea to record the data to see if they could learn exactly how the car was performing – and give that data in real-time to the driver.

It was perfected in the mid 80’s to record all of the data that they thought would assist in the realtime race and the post race debrief.

The second interviews at the track are cameramen and commentaries who talk about how they remember Senna’s driving style and how he drove that lap – they say it felt different to record – as he just didn’t slow down on the corners.

Third interview series is the concept art director, sound director and the director of the actual shoot. They talk about recreating the visualisation from the data, how they recorded the sounds from a current McLaren F1 engine in detail – then constructed through experimentation the sound of Senna’s car travelling at 200k plus and added a track of LEDs to simulate the “car” traveling at the exact speed that senna drove each metre of the lap”

They then moved to the Suzuka track and lined up the all the speakers around the course

The result would have been breathtaking to experience in person. Sadly, like with Senna’s own laps, we just have the video.

One final aspect of this project is a real time visualisation of the lap data as you might recognise it today – no video, just the data and the sound – click “Sound & Data” on this website.

For those now wandering down memory lane, here’s a classic on-board lap with the great man around Suzuka.

Huge thanks to Mark Cummins for watching these and making some notes in English for us!