November's Motorsport Magazine podcast features a fascinating chat with erstwhile Renault F1 technical director Pat Symonds. Having worked with Ayrton Senna, Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso, Pat is well-placed to offer an informed comparison between the three pre-eminent drivers in modern F1 history.
Symonds points out that Schumacher was a team-player, naturally taking an interest in the lives, families and careers of those around him, whilst Alonso is comparable to the early Senna in terms of his "egocentric" psychology.
In fact, in terms of psychological philosophy, Schumacher can be classified as a methodological collectivist, Alonso as an individualist, and the early Senna as a para-solipsist.
Schumacher is a methodological collectivist because, whilst instinctively friendly with those he works with, he also clearly sees that his self-interest is best served by the harmonious operation of the collective around him. Alonso, in contrast, displays an almost naked level of self-interest, and demands that a team is unequivocally devoted to serving his needs. There have even been times, notably at McLaren in 2007, when Fernando was at his best when he felt himself to be alone and unsupported, battling adversity, demonstrating self-reliance.
Classifying the early Senna as a para-solipsist might seem a trifle extreme, suggesting as it does that he was almost unable to believe in the existence of other mortal minds, or of a world existing independently of his own existence. It does, however, capture the introspective intensity of the Brazilian's early personality. The later Senna exhibited an even more complex psychological philosophy, embracing elements of mysticism, monotheism, humanitarianism, and retributional justice.