British artist Ian Berry in front of Ayrton Senna portrait he painted.
British artist Ian Berry in front of Ayrton Senna portrait he painted.
British artist Ian Berry in front of Ayrton Senna portrait he painted.

Six months before the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Formula 1 fans will be able to celebrate the pinnacle of motorsport at Autosport International in January, and witness the European debut of a portrait of the legendary Ayrton Senna created by renowned British artist Ian Berry.

Known as ‘Denimu’, Berry uses shades of layered denim as his palette and was commissioned by the Ayrton Senna Institute to commemorate the 20th year since the three-time World Champion’s passing in 1994, utilising jeans owned by members of the Senna family.

Celebrating its 25th anniversary at Birmingham’s NEC on 8-11 January*, Autosport International has been selected by the family and Institute, which works to increase the quality of education available to Brazilian children, to host the stunning 122cm x 160cm artwork’s first viewing in Europe. It was recently unveiled in Senna’s hometown, Sao Paulo in Brazil.

“It was simply spectacular. It was very exciting to see the result,” Bianca Senna, niece of Ayrton, told Brazilian TV network Globo, before describing Ayrton’s mother’s reaction. “When my grandmother saw it she cried and was excited all day.”

Further Formula 1 flavour at Europe’s biggest motorsport show will come through the F1 Racing Grid, which will host Berry’s unique portrait, and guests such as 13-time Grand Prix winner and BBC F1 expert David Coulthard.

“I remember playing a racing game and we all wanted to be Senna. I was only 10 in 1994, but I remember,” Berry said of his creation.

“In later life I realised that he was an icon that transcended the sport of motor racing and is one of the greatest icons of the 20th century and his legacy lives far into the 21st. To be told by the family that it captured all his emotions and every part – the nose, mouth, eyes especially, and even down to the hair – it made me very happy.”

With Berry to be present and a ‘making of’ video to be shown, the F1 Racing Grid will showcase cars from the FIA Formula 1 World Championship. Led by new World Champions Mercedes, it will also display motoring works of art from the likes of Ferrari, Williams, McLaren and Red Bull.

A driver for the latter three teams during a decorated, 15-year career, Coulthard will take to the stage during the show’s public days, 10-11 January, to dissect the sensational 2014 season and look ahead to the new campaign. He’ll be joined by BBC F1 colleague and former Toyota F1 pilot Allan McNish, with more guests to be announced.

Meanwhile, Sky Sports F1’s David Croft will host adrenaline-fuelled shows in the 5,000-seat Live Action Arena, the UK’s largest indoor racetrack.

Other Autosport International guests include the 2014 FIA World Rallycross and World Rally Champion Petter Solberg and Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship heroes Colin Turkington, Matt Neal, Andrew Jordan and Gordon Shedden.

Alongside Europe’s biggest motorsport show, the Performance Car Show, presented by Landsail Tyres, in association with Autocar and will be packed with supercars and high-performance favourites from the motoring world, and the first opportunity for enthusiasts to see winners from the What Car? Car of the Year 2015 Awards.

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