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.
Ayrton Senna is seen on a 1988 Christmas TV show with Xuxa Meneghel, who kisses him five times to wish him a Happy New Year, Happy 1990, Happy 1991, Happy 1992, and Happy 1993. In 1994, he was involved in a survivable collision on a not particularly difficult corner; he suffered no bruising, and not one bone was broken, but the car crashed at the exact angle for its suspension shaft to hit his helmet. Ayrton died of brain damage mere months after Xuxa's lucky kisses ran out.