The producer James Gay-Rees and writer Manish Pandey had a meeting with the family of Ayrton Senna in March 2006. They made a 40-minute presentation about what they would do in the documentary, which convinced them to authorize and support the project. The presentation was called "The Life and Death of Ayrton Senna".
The father of James Gay-Rees worked at John Player Special, cigarette company that sponsored the Lotus team in 1985, during which Ayrton Senna was the pilot. According to the producer, the making of Senna came from the constant praise that his father did to the, at the time, young driver.