Senna, Ratzenberger and the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix - 20 years on. Watch

mikejohnno
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#1
This post was made in line with the 20th anniversary of the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna over the weekend of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Everything here is original
________________________________ _______________________

Roland Ratzenberger was just 34 when he died at Imola, 30th April 1994. His dream was to become a Formula 1 driver.



Born in Salzburg, Austria, he began racing in 1983, before winning both the Austrian and Central European Championship. He continued to enter multiple racing events over the next four years, entering Touring Cars, British F3 and British Formula 3000, where he found mixed success, but his talent was clearly in single seaters.

It was in 1989 however, that Ratzenberger was chosen to race in the Le Mans 24 hours for the first time. His first year at Le Mans was unsuccessful however, with his team, Brun Motorsport retiring after just three hours. Nonetheless, Ratzenberger persevered and continued to race for the next four Le Mans until his final Le Mans in 1993 where he finished fifth.

As well as racing Le Mans, Ratzenberger also raced in Japan. He joined the Japanese Sports Prototype Championship and won two races in two seasons. He also returned to the Japanese Touring Car Championship, finishing seventh overall in both 1990 and 1991. After this, similar to his European rise, he joined the Japanese Formula 3000 in 1992, and after a poor start, managed to win two races to finish seventh. In 1993, he continued and finished 11th.



It was then in 1994 he signed a five year deal to race for the newly formed Simtek team. He wouldn't even fulfil one year of his dream contract. His season began poorly in Brazil, where Ratzenberger failed to qualify, but he improved in Suzuka and thanks to his experience in Japanese racing he knew the track well, and was able to achieve a well deserved 11th place.

It was at the next race, the San Marino Grand Prix, that Ratzenberger tragically lost his life.

________________________________ _______________________

Due to the extensive history of Ayrton Senna, I have kept his section as short as possible.

Ayrton Senna was just 34 when he died at Imola, 1st May 1994. His dream was to become a Formula 1 driver.



Senna was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, originally born Ayrton Silva. At the age of seven, Senna learn't to drive his family jeep around their farm, and was able to change gears without using a clutch.

He began racing karts in at Interlagos, Brazil's Grand Prix circuit at the age of 13. He started his first race on pole position. In 1977, Senna had won his first championship, the South American Kart Championship. From 1978, he entered the World Karting Championship. It was here that Senna claimed his karting rival "Terry Fullerton" was the driver who he had most satisfaction of racing against. Fullerton never made it to F1 because of his family's orders, but he was an extremely successful kart racer.

In 1981, Senna moved to England, where he began single seater racing, entering the British Formula Three Championship, racing for West Surrey Racing, five years before Ratzenberger would race for the same team.



After winning the title in 1983 from Martin Brundle, who raced for Eddie Jordan, he was offered seats from Ron Dennis and Bernie Ecclestone to race in F1. During his F1 testing for Williams he outpaced Keke Rosberg and many other drivers, but McLaren and Williams had no space for Senna at their team. Lotus passed him up as their sponsors wanted a British driver and Nelson Piquet of Brabham called him a "taxi driver". Eventually he settled at Toleman and started his Formula 1 career.

Senna raced with Toleman for two years until 1985. In his two years, his best result came from the Monaco Grand Prix, where in soaking wet conditions, he cut the gap to Prost in 1st position by 4 seconds a lap. The race was stopped before he caught him but Toleman revealed the car would have stopped a few laps before the flag due to suspension damage.

He joined Lotus in 1985 and stayed there until 1987. In his first season he established himself as the fastest drivers on the grid, taking seven pole positions. In 1986, after winning the Detroit Grand Prix, two days after Brazil were eliminated from the FIFA World Cup, Senna asked a supporter for the Brazilian flag and drove a lap waving the flag. He has repeated this ritual every time he won.



In 1988, he moved to McLaren, and stayed there until 1994. It was his most successful team and he claimed three world championships there. In his first season, he was paired with Alain Prost, and with one of the best cars ever made, the MP4/4. They went on to win 15 out of the 16 races. Senna only won the championship by having more wins than his teammate.

For the next two years, Prost and Senna came to a head and a rivalry sparked. As it would take up too much text in this post, I wont go into detail on it.

Prost left the team for Ferrari in 1990 but Senna kept on. In 1992, Senna and McLaren were far behind the dominant Williams. At the end of 1993, after concluding the season with just two wins and Prost winning the championship, Senna decided to leave and join the recently successful Williams, hoping for success. Prost had now retired.

Despite taking two poles for two races in 1994, he failed to finish in the points for either. His next race was to be his last.



The San Marino Grand Prix was held in typical fashion. From Friday 29th April to Sunday May 1st.

On the Friday Qualifying Session, the first of three crashes took place. Driving for Jordan, Rubens Barrichello hit the Variante Bassa curb at 140mph, and was launched into the air. His car rolled and landed upside down. Teams feared the worst, but he survived, his injuries being a broken nose and a plaster for his arm. He sat out the rest of the weekend. Damon Hill recalled how all the drivers "brushed themselves off... reassured that our cars were tough as tanks".

The next day, 30th April, the first death to take place during a Formula 1 session for 12 years took place, with Roland Ratzenberger the driver. After taking a corner poorly and damaging his front wing, he looked set to come into the pits. However, he continued a flying lap, and on the high speed back straight, it broke, leaving his powerless to do anything, and the car struck the outside wall at 195 mph. His life was taken doing what he loved. But the session was restarted 25 minutes later and several teams, including Williams and Bennetton respectfully took no further part.

Ratzenberger's funeral was attended by the lieks of Gerhard Berger and at the time FIA President Max Moseley, who in 2004 recalled how because everyone went to Senna's, he felt somebody had to go to Ratzenberger's, so he did.

Ratzenberger's death, although often in the shadow of Senna's, would be a major turning point in F1, and it was his tragic accident that led to the introduction of the HANS safety device being implemented to every car, the device that could have saved Roland Ratzenberger's and has likely saved countless lives since.
Sid Watkins, the F1 Doctor at the time, recalled how Senna broke down into tears on his shoulder. Sid tried to persuade Senna to quit and go fishing, but Senna responded "I can't quit. I have to go on". Senna qualified on pole for his final race.

However, just seven laps into the race, Senna lost control of his Williams car through the high speed Tamburello corner due to faulty suspension and he collided with the wall at 135mph after doing his best to slow the car down. In Brazil, a vast funeral was held and three days of mourning were issued.



It was both Senna and Ratzenberger's deaths that brought Formula 1 to worldwide attention, and all for the wrong reasons.

The events of that weekend brought numerous changes (from wikipedia):

For the Spanish Grand Prix,

  1. the size of diffusers would be reduced,
  2. the front wing end plates would be raised,
  3. the size of the front wing would be reduced.
  4. Combined this would reduce the amount of downforce by about 15%.


For the Canadian Grand Prix,

  1. the lateral protection of the drivers' heads would be improved by increasing the height of the sides of the cockpit,
  2. the minimum weight of a Formula 1 car would be increased by 25 kg (changed to 15 kg by Canadian GP),
  3. the front wishbones would be strengthened to reduce the possibility of a front wheel coming loose and striking the driver,
  4. the cockpit would be lengthened to prevent drivers striking their head on the front of the cockpit,
  5. the use of a fuel pump would be introduced,
  6. the airboxes from the engines would be removed to reduce the airflow to the engines and thus decrease the power available.



Other improvements included more improved crash barriers, redesigned tracks and tyre barriers, higher crash safety standards, higher sills on the driver cockpit and a limit on 3-litre engines are among the measures that were subsequently introduced. The FIA immediately investigated the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, and the track's signature Tamburello turn, was changed into a left-right chicane."


In the end, there deaths were tragic and tarnished the sport forever. They will alayws have a lasting legacy, and luckily, safety improvements have come about from the events of that weekend.

Thanks.​
3
reply
barnetlad
Badges: 19
Rep:
?
#2
Report 5 years ago
#2
Thank you for reminding us. not to forget. It reminded me of the interview Murray Walker gave shortly after Ayrton Senna's death which I remember and was very moving.
0
reply
mikejohnno
Badges: 1
Rep:
?
#3
Report Thread starter 5 years ago
#3
I have edited grammar and spelling in this post. Was a bit dodgy.
0
reply
Motorbiker
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#4
Report 5 years ago
#4
An awesome read. Thanks.Senna did many a

wesome things in his career. Most of them extreme acts of driving skill but one i heard of relatively recently sticks with me.



During an earlier race, in a practise session. He leaps out of his car and runs over to help a fellow driver.
0
reply
Robbo-92
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#5
Report 5 years ago
#5
It's very sad to think that the current safety leve of Formula 1 has only come about because of all the people who have died doing what they loved, Ratzenberger and Senna being the last two drivers to die during a Grand Prix weekend.
0
reply
RoyalMarine
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#6
Report 5 years ago
#6
This hypocrisy is getting boring.Words and words but the truth is that nobody on F1 cares.They even twisted the truth so that no sanctions were given to Williams and Newey even if they killed Senna.And those new measures were made only because a famous person died,if it was only Ratzenberger there would be no rule changes.
0
reply
TheMagicRat
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#7
Report 5 years ago
#7
Wow! The picture from Senna's funeral is amazing.

Nice tribute from the Brazilian football team, Corinthians, last night: https://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs...031717505.html
1
reply
RoyalMarine
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#8
Report 5 years ago
#8
How is it possible that Newey who is responsible for his death is still working on F1?And Ecclestone who deleted on purpose the on board camera tapes and Williams who deleted the telemetry data to hide their responsibility?F1 is the home of hypocrisy.If at least one person cared about Senna there would be sanctions and bans,not just empty words.
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

How did your Edexcel GCSE Maths Paper 1 go?

Loved the paper - feeling positive (290)
25.75%
The paper was reasonable (489)
43.43%
Not feeling great about that exam (225)
19.98%
It was TERRIBLE (122)
10.83%

Watched Threads

View All