“Fondest memory of Ron Dennis” – When Ayrton Senna lost $10,000 to his McLaren team boss

Samriddhi Jaiswal
|Published May 11, 2022

Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger shared an unbreakable bond and never missed a chance to prank their McLaren team principal.

Ayrton Senna lost $10,000 to his McLaren team principal Ron Dennis in a bet. The former McLaren boss says that it is one of his fondest memory of Senna.

The Brazillian racing driver had challenged his team boss to quaff down a tub of extra hot chilli sauce in Mexico. Senna hadn’t thought that Dennis had the nerve to do it and before the driver could withdraw his challenge, the McLaren boss gulped it down.

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Senna gave him an envelope from his own personalised stationery with $10,000 inside to settle the bet. Recalling the memory, Dennis said, “It was about the fourth time he’d lost a big bet, and I can remember him giving it (the money) to me and saying ‘I am never going to bet with you ever again.’

“It’s my fond memory for two things. To get a smile across Ayrton’s face was not that easy. But to get him to part with his money with a smile on his face… it was a great moment. But I paid for it for a couple of days,” he further added.

Also Read: When Ayrton Senna set the fastest lap going through the pit lane at 1993 European Grand Prix

Ayrton Senna and Gerhard Berger – The greatest comedy duo of F1

Gerhard Berger joined the McLaren team in 1990 and took a seat alongside Senna. The partnership between the two drivers turned into a wholesome friendship.

This unbreakable bond between the two often led to mischievous pranks that both the drivers would play on each other and other members of the team. And as it happened, Dennis was not safe either.

Whether it was Berger placing a phallic photo in Senna’s passport or the Brazilian glueing Berger’s cards in his wallet, these two had a good time.

So, losing a $10,000 bet is not all that Senna did in his time with Dennis. The McLaren boss recalled that one year in Monza he returned to his posh hotel room at the five star Villa d’Este to be greeted by a new wallpaper made up of pornographic pictures.

“Needless to say, when one of the group got back to his room later that night there was nothing in it. Nothing. No furniture. No clothes. Nothing.

“I remember the laughter and the fun. Normally there’d be things verging on the slapstick and not so funny, especially damaging property which frequently happened… it was childlike but at the same time a really good feeling inside the team.”

Heading into the 1990 championship, Senna was a bit disappointed as he had lost the 1989 title to his chief rival Alain Prost following his disqualification from the Japanese Grand Prix.

During that time, Berger brought with him the perfect humour to boost up the spirit – humour. Dennis said that before the Austrian’s presence in the team, the idea of telling Senna a joke and making him laugh was impossible.

However, the Briton also said that some pranks would go too far and get seriously dangerous. ”

“Gerhard has no limits. I mean, no limits. He’ll go to the point where it is positively dangerous. There was one moment when we were up on Hamilton Island and were diving. And we were at quite a good depth and Gerhard just came and turned my air off. He thought that was hilarious.”

In another incident, they threw Dennis off a yacht in Australia on his birthday, before dumping in some bait to try and attract sharks.

Also Read: Ayrton Senna requested rival Alain Prost to re-join McLaren as his teammate in 1993

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About the author

Samriddhi Jaiswal

Samriddhi Jaiswal

Samriddhi Jaiswal is an F1 editor and writer at The SportsRush. She started her career as a business journalist but soon found her calling in lights out here we go! Samriddhi has been a Ferrari fan even when her interaction with F1 was occasional. Her first real experience with the thrilling sport came when Charles Leclerc clinched his iconic victory in Spa and Monza and painted the track red. Now, a Tifosi, Samriddhi is a hardcore fan of the prancing horse and can relate to the chaos within the Italian camp and also admires Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Off the track, she finds her home in books and musical instruments.

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