The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola is widely regarded as being the darkest weekend in the history of Formula 1, leaving its mark on the sport and having an impact that would be felt throughout global motorsport.
That weekend is most prominently associated with the death of Ayrton Senna, three-time world champion and one of the greatest drivers in the history of F1, who sustained fatal injuries in an accident at Tamburello on lap six of the race.
When Senna was extricated from his car, an Austrian flag was found stained with blood. He had planned to wave it after the race in memory of Roland Ratzenberger, who had died during qualifying just one day earlier.
Ratzenberger had raced in a number of series before finally securing an F1 seat for 1994 with Simtek. After finishing 11th in his second grand prix, the Austrian headed to Imola (pictured in 2005) searching for a breakthrough top-ten result.
In qualifying, Ratzenberger was killed at the Villeneuve Curva after sustaining severe head injuries when his car went off the track at high speed. He was 33 years old.
Roland is often considered the ‘forgotten man’ of that weekend following Senna’s death the next day, but the F1 community was sure to remember him today, some 21 years after that fateful weekend.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 30, 2015
Today we remember Roland Ratzenberger. A true racer, chasing the ultimate dream. A talent, taken far too soon. pic.twitter.com/XAIkaqwQrO
— MERCEDES AMG F1 (@MercedesAMGF1) April 30, 2015
Roland Ratzenberger’s Simtek is one of my favourite F1 liveries. Lets remember how cool he looked on this anniversary pic.twitter.com/nWqi44EgaM
— Sean Kelly (@virtualstatman) April 30, 2015
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) April 30, 2015
Twenty one years on, we remember the passing of Roland Ratzenberger, qualifying day for the San Marino GP : 30/04/94. pic.twitter.com/3IpZTK7Eor
— F1 Paddock Pass (@F1PaddockPass) April 29, 2015
Remembering Roland Ratzenberger, 4/7/1960 – 30/4/1994. pic.twitter.com/1wO9zKA6qO
— Badger GP (@BadgerGP) April 30, 2015