It was Monday 24th May 1993, the day after Ayrton’s record breaking 6th win at the most glamorous of all races! And it had been a particularly difficult win in Monaco as, on Thursday free practice,  he had crashed and hurt his left thumb really badly – and he was left handed) After nearly 48 hours under the thoroughful care of his personal physiotherapist Joseph Leberer – with a cocktail cream, ice and massages.- Ayrton was ready to go. (this was an extraordinary race and I will write more about it sometime)

Senna and Prost face to face

Senna and Prost. I can see the vibes. Photo F1 banter

Back to Monday. We are in London. Ayrton called me in the afternoon; we had arranged to talk more so I could write my columns to Japan and Brazil.

Ayrton: “Hi Betise, all ok? I need a favour”

Betise : “Oh, really!  I thought we were going to talk more about the race”, I replied laughing

Ayrton: “Well, that as well.  Perhaps we could talk at a McDonalds”?

Betise: “What?!?! You’re kidding, right? You want to go to McDonalds and drag me there, too? Even for my boss it is a lot to ask”, still laughing but not as much!

Ayrton: “No, it’s not for me! Adriane wants to have a Big Mac, can you believe it?”

Betise: “Of course I can. What I can’t believe is that you are prepared to go there. I shall bring my camera and make you autograph the photo for posterity”, by then I am in tears of laughter.

Senna: “Ok, very funny. Where is the nearest McDonalds? I am at the Berkeley. We can meet there and talk about the Monaco weekend while Adriane has her burger”

Half an hour later, we met at McDonalds on the Kings Rd, walked up the stairs and started queueing. It was around 3pm then so it was not very busy but I could see Ayrton had on that face of “oh, no, people are beginning to recognise me , they will mob me and my excellent mood will turn to shit”. I was prepared for the worse. But … nobody recognised him. “Oh No, that could be the worst!”, I thought, laughing to myself.

We got to the till and ordered.  The guy behind the counter kept looking at Ayrton, then at me. At Ayrton, then at me.

“Don’t I recognise him from somewhere?”, he said to me but pointing at Ayrton.

“Well, I don’t know. Do you?” , I replied.

“Yes, yes, I know, he’s that racing driver”,  he had his eureka moment. We are both staring at him. “I know,  I know…. (racking his brain) …….. Alain Prost!!”

I can still hear my own laughter!!!! I simply couldn’t hold it. Not even Ayrton’s not so pleased face (that’s the understatement of my life) could stop me. It didn’t last long, though.  The overwhelming feeling of victory in Monte Carlo and Adriane’s happy company thankfully prevailed. And he joined me in giggling as I still hadn’t managed to stop!!

He did see the funny side of it eventually. “Bloody hell… I won it yesterday, for the 6th time. In Monaco!!”. We all giggled even louder!!

I still live near that McDonalds and walk past there practically daily.  Pity I did not take my camera. Well, I was brave.- still am.  But not THAT brave.




About Betise Assumpcao Head

Communicator, specialized in Media Relations, Reputation, Crisis Management, corporate or individual. I started as a Sports Journalist (7 years, Mains newspapers and magazines in Brazil) turned into World Wide Press Officer (Senna 1990/1994), been to Games in Barcelona Atlanta, London & Rio 2016. Italy, Germany & Brazilian World Cups.


  1. Luiz Assumpção says :

    French Fries and Coke to accompany?


  2. Betise Assumpcao Head says :

    And I believe that was exactly right!!!


  3. Nick Warner says :

    Betise; Although I now live in the North of England, I was born in and grew up in London. At the time, I was working in Hampstead – sure you know it well. If only I’d known, I’d have run out of work and would have happily bought you all Big Macs! I would have also had the privilege of meeting Ayrton. By the way, all the best for this Thursday; a difficult time for all those close to him.


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