This year carries a large significance in Formula One lore, as 2014 marks the 20-year anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s passing in the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.
But while Senna is still a revered, global presence – and still considered by many the best Grand Prix driver who ever lived – McLaren is doing its part to pay tribute to the glory days when the two were paired together, and not dwell on the tragedy that was F1’s most horrible weekend.
The McLaren MP4/4, which Senna and Alain Prost took to 15 of 16 victories during Senna’s first World Championship-winning season in 1988, will head to Imola on the weekend of May 1-4 this year. It’s, as the team described on Wednesday, “a celebration of the life and times of the great Brazilian over the weekend of May 1-4,” and “will rekindle memories of a racing legend and a track that quietly slipped from the grand prix canon almost a decade ago.”
Indeed Imola’s last Grand Prix was held in 2006. In 2004, the 10-year mark of Senna’s passing, his teammate Gerhard Berger took one of Senna’s old Lotus chassis for a tribute lap (linked here; Italian commentary). Berger, who’s Austrian, also paid tribute to the other driver lost that weekend, his countryman Roland Ratzenberger.
The MP4/4, meanwhile, will also travel to Australia’s Top Gear Festival at the Sydney Motorsport Park March 8 and 9. That marks the car’s first return to Australia since winning the 1988 Australian Grand Prix 26 years ago, and coincidentally, the last win for a turbocharged Formula One car.
The next turbocharged F1 win will occur – fittingly – in the 2014 Australian Grand Prix curtain-raiser to the new season, with new 1.6L V6 engines.