FEOA Forums banner
1 - 2 of 2 Posts

BYO Plastic cutlery
9,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Today is the ninth anniversary of Ayrton Senna´s death. He remains within us as the greatest driver to ever turn a wheel in anger. I still mourn Ayrton Senna.I paste this article from F1live.com to show the gravity of what happened that fateful weekend at Imola, with the caveat that I disagree with some of the statements made in it........

Still in our memory...
lready nine years that this tragedy happened, yet nobody can forget it. On May 1st 1994, Ayrton Senna left us in the most tragic way. After getting pole position for the San Marino Grand Prix, the Brazilian was leading the race when a mechanical part of his Willliams broke, sending the car and its driver against a wall along the circuit with tremendous force.

Ayrton Senna would not survive the accident. The day before, Roland Ratzenberger was killed during qualifying, also a victim of mechanical failure. If one was a the peak of his career, the other one was just starting. Bad luck and destiny decided to unite them for this tragic weekend.

The youngest of you may not remember all the details of that terrible weekend which is one of the darkest Formula One has seen. Ayrton Senna died in front of millions of television viewers but other facts could have put Formula One in jeopardy. So many things happened during that horrifying weekend.

During Friday morning´s qualifying session, Rubens Barrichello went off track violently, hitting the fence that protects the spectators. The little tyre wall did not stop the Jordan: it just went over it! Barrichello miraculously got away from this accident. He had a broken arm and a big fright, which is relatively little for an accident of that magnitude. The next day, Roland Ratzenberger goes off the track and hits a protection wall. The Austrian driver, who was competing in his first F1 season, was less fortunate than Barrichello, the impact killing him instantly. Complete astonishment in the paddocks. The small F1 world just discovered that the drivers could die even if the cars and the circuits were thought to be safe beyond reproach...

On Sunday May 1st 1994, the cars were on the grid but two drivers were missing: Barrichello because of his injury and of course the unfortunate Ratzenberger. J.J. Letho was making a come-back in Formula One after a terrible accident a few months earlier that injured his vertebra. His helmet had to be supported with wires to ease the pain inflicted in corners by lateral forces. When the start was given, the unfortunate Letho stalled. Pedro Lamy could not avoid him and the two cars collided severely, sending pieces of debris everywhere and injuring 8 people. The nightmare continued, the drivers now getting ready to go again, following the Safety Car for a new start.... the last in Ayrton Senna´s career. Like if that was not enough, near the end of the race Alboreto´s Minardi lost a wheel in the pits, injuring 5 people, 2 of them seriously.

What happened that weekend at Imola? Why so many disasters on a track that never seemed to be any more dangerous than the others? After this Grand Prix, the media all over the world was still wondering if Formula One would survive such a catastrophic weekend. On top of that, one question remained: How can the survivors of such a terrible situation take part in the third start, knowing that Senna was between life and death and that Ratzenberger´s family had lost a loved one? Passion? Probably not. In this case, passion takes a second role to economic reasons. This first day of May was also the revelation that the television "show" was worth more than a human life.

Most of the spectators stayed until the end of this pitiful show. On that day, Schumacher won his third win of the season while Damon Hill, teammate of Senna, had the fastest lap in the race. Many years later the cause of the Brazilian´s accident is still undetermined, at least officially. The responsibility of the accident is probably on the Williams team even if the Italian justice department was unable to find a guilty party. The Simtek team on the other hand never tried to hide its responsibility towards Ratzenberger and its family. Ayrton Senna deserved better than a legal battle between ruthless lawyers...

Can a dramatic weekend like this happen once again these days? We think not, it´s impossible! Today´s Formula One cars are much safer, there has been many improvements to safety... same line of thinking as in 1994 when the FIA took measure in the name of safety to slow down the cars. How? By banning electronic driving aids at the beginning of 1994. Troubling, isn´t?

CAPSIS International

1,027 Posts
One thing in the article I do agree with is that today´s race cars are so much safer. I just hope that in order to ´make the racing more interesting´ the powers-that-be do not sacrifice this new-found safety. I do remember that awful day which, for me, was just another of many fatalities I have witnessed over the years. Watching drivers burn was sadly not an uncommon event!

I am a fan of CART and was horrified by the death of Greg Moore and the dreadful accident to Zinardi, even though the vast majority of high-speed crashes caused only minor bruising!! Although I know accidents will aways happen, I just hope that safety issues will be paramount. My father used to have a Brabham that he raced in F3 with a Canadian driver, Jack Smith. Jack, the father of two very young daughters, was killed outright at Snetterton when the car spun backwards into a barrier breaking his neck - this could never happen today because of the mandatory use of braces.
1 - 2 of 2 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.