On 1 May 1994 the motorsport world changed forever. Now, two decades later, we mark the 20th anniversary of the earth shattering moment when magazine editors realised that putting a poignant photo of Ayrton Senna on the cover would sell more magazines.
Maurice Ital of Every Other Sunday was there the day a poignant photo of Ayrton Senna was first put on the cover. ‘We just couldn’t believe it,’ he remembers. ‘Everyone went quiet. I think at first we all tried to pretend otherwise, but deep down we knew, we just knew, this would sell more magazines.’
‘We all admired Senna but it’s hard to pin down the secret of his appeal. It’s just so many things. Partly it’s speed, partly it’s passion, partly it’s shifting another 5000 copies,’ Ital continues. ‘It’s not black and white. Unlike the photos of him, which often are in order to make them seem more poignant.’
‘It feels like only yesterday,’ Ital admitted. ‘I really can’t believe it’s been 10 years since our 10 years of using poignant pictures of Senna feature. It really is haunting. Although not as haunting as the poignant photo of Ayrton Senna we used on the cover of our ‘14 years on – what really happened’ issue.’
For many there is something unique about Senna, and poignant pictures of Senna. ‘There’s no driver before or since who could do what he could do,’ Ital insists. ‘Which is to say, to sell more magazines by being pictured in a poignant way on the cover. There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think back to 1994 and thank God it wasn’t Nigel Mansell.’