Sylvester Stallone: Ayrton Senna wanted me to play him on film

Sylvester Stallone poses with Ayrton Senna's former boss, McLaren's Ron Dennis, ahead of the 1998 Hungarian Grand Prix Mark Thompson/Allsport

Three-time world champion Ayrton Senna wanted Sylvester Stallone to play him in a movie of his life, the Hollywood actor has claimed.

Senna, the man many consider to be the greatest driver in F1 history, was killed in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The 2010 documentary film Senna focused on his life and career, receiving critical acclaim, but remains one of the few mainstream accounts of his story.

Stallone, most famous for his roles as Rocky Balboa and John Rambo, had a close interest in motorsport ahead of making the 2001 film Driven. The American actor says he had frequent conversations with Senna about a potential movie before his death at Imola.

Speaking ahead of a Heritage auction last month, with one of Senna's legendary yellow and green helmets among the items being sold, Stallone said: "Ayrton Senna was one of the great drivers of all time and he wanted me to do his life story. We were speaking many years ago on the phone and he goes 'I think it would be really good, I liked your films'. I said thank you very much -- we spoke a lot by phone.

"He said 'let me show you the colours, it's very much like Rocky colours'. So he sent it to me and of course I'd never seen a helmet like this. And then he unfortunately died in this horrible crash and after that I just decided I couldn't do the film, it was just too hard.

"But this [the helmet] is what he sent me. It been sitting in my house for 15 years and it's just wonderful."