Yesterday marked 20 years since the death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, just one day after Roland Ratzenberger had been killed during qualifying for the race on the darkest weekend in the history of Formula 1.
In order to commemorate their lives and the anniversary of the weekend, a special event took place at Imola yesterday with one minute of silence being held at Tamburello corner at 2:17pm local time – the exact time and place where Senna had his fatal accident two decades ago.
With the circuit having such an important place in Ferrari’s history, the Italian marque sent a number of its top personnel along to the event including drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso. Both paid their respects to Ratzenberger and Senna, with the changes made to the safety standards in the sport in the years since being a lasting legacy of the weekend.
“I had a poster of him up in my bedroom,” Alonso explained when asked about Senna. “The only positive thing to come out of the weekend that took Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger away from us was that, from then on, safety in Formula 1 improved significantly.
“In fact, we can say that inside our cars there is something of the legacy of Senna and Raztzenberger, because after that terrible 1994, nothing was ever the same again”
Indeed, since that weekend, there have been no driver deaths in Formula 1 despite the likes of Luciano Burti, Robert Kubica and Mark Webber suffering some horrifying accidents.
Raikkonen concurred with his teammate, saying: “Senna was very important for Formula 1, as a driver and a person and his death led to a rapid acceleration in the process of increasing the level of safety in our sport. That has avoided other tragedies from occurring.
“Unfortunately however, one cannot change the past, neither for Ayrton nor for Roland Ratzenberger. The only thing we can do is remember this champion, whose exploits defined the history of Formula 1 for a long time.”
It may have been 20 years since their deaths, but the legacy that both Senna and Ratzenberger have left behind continues to be felt throughout motorsport.