Ayrton Senna, Williams, Imola, 1994

Vettel shares his recollection of Imola 1994

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In the round-up: Sebastian Vettel describes his recollection of Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994.


What they say

Vettel was asked about his memories of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, when he was six years old:

Well obviously Michael [Schumacher] is my big hero so [it’s] a bit different. And I know that for a lot of people they compared one versus the other some say Michael was better some say Ayrton was better. I don’t think it’s necessary to compare.

I think they were both great. Surely Ayrton had his peak era before Michael. It would have been interesting to see them both go head to head. But for many reasons he’s considered one of the greatest, what he achieved in such a short amount of time, the precision he had behind the wheel, was unique.

I remember watching on TV. I’m not sure I understood back then what it meant because it wasn’t clear straight away that he was dead. But my father was a big Senna fan, he was obviously shocked. I remember when it happened, all the fans around the world just went silent for that time. Certainly a big loss for Formula 1.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Rapid Response reissued

Rapid Response, the memoir of former CART IndyCar medical director Dr Stephen Olvey, has been reissued by Evro following its original printing 13 years ago.

He gives a vivid, colourful and in places harrowing an account of how he, much like his Formula 1 counterpart Professor Sid Watkins, pursued improvements to medical and safety standards in a branch of motor racing where the danger is even greater.

The book also provides a first-hand view of how, though a succession of poor decisions, open-wheel racing in America split into two factions. Champ Car, the remnant of CART, was still limping along when the book first came out. Soon after it reunited with what is now called IndyCar, but remains a pale shadow of its former greatness.

Without question the most remarkable part of Olvey’s book is his account of Alessandro Zanardi’s rescue when he crashed during the 2001 Lausitzring CART race. The fact Zanardi’s life was spared despite both his legs being severed in the appalling crash is an incredible testament to the work of Olvey and his colleagues. If you missed this excellent book the first time around, you’ve got a second chance to catch it.

Social media

Notable posts from Twitter, Instagram and more:

View this post on Instagram

People around the world are remembering the great #AyrtonSenna today. I’ve just taken a flower from my garden & laid it here as a mark of respect. This was Ayrton’s home in 1981, a non-descript, small bungalow on the edge of Norwich. He arrived here 28 years ago… The people living here now are oblivious to the significance of this bungalow, sitting among other identical 1960’s houses in this small cul-de-sac. Ayrton would have arrived here likely feeing anxious. It was his first step in single-seater racing, miles from Brazil. He needn’t have worried. He won the RAC & Townsend-Thoreson Formula Ford 1600 Championships that year with the Van Diemen team. He had pressure to return to Brazil & the family business, but, thankfully he carried on racing. Then, 25 years ago today, he lost his life at Imola, and we were denied the talents of one of the greatest, most inspiring #F1 drivers ever seen. However, Rugge Drive, in 1981, will forever be the place his journey in Europe and in single seater-racing first began. ❤️❤️

A post shared by Jake Humphrey (@jakehumphrey) on

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Comment of the day

Valtteri Bottas has been vindicated, says Ben:

I feel very sorry for Esteban Ocon, but very happy for Valtteri Bottas. Most people (including me) had totally written him off at the end of last year and it was incredibly hard to see him reigning in the gap. He’s done a brilliant job so far this season. The fightback against Hamilton in the first corners at Baku is a great indication at how his attitude has changed; I’m sure that a year ago, he would have conceded that to Hamilton.

How good is Ocon? There’s no denying that he’s better than Stroll, who is unlikely to be displaced for obvious reasons. Is he better than Hamilton? Almost certainly not. Is he better than Bottas? Who knows… Bottas is keeping pace with Hamilton so is making himself irreplaceable. Russell? Kubica? He doesn’t fit at Mercedes, he doesn’t fit at Racing Point. He probably fits in at Williams, but won’t want to be there.

Are there any non-Mercedes teams who would want him? Verstappen would surely veto him as a potential replacement for Gasly at Red Bull/Toro Rosso. Renault have a great line-up. McLaren seem happy. Maybe Haas?

Frankly, Ocon doesn’t logically fit in anywhere at the moment. He may well regret turning Williams down.

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Adam Kibbey!

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On this day in F1

  • 55 years ago today Jack Brabham won a photo-finish with Dan Gurney in the BRDC International Trophy at Silverstone

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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20 comments on “Vettel shares his recollection of Imola 1994”

  1. MaddMe (@)
    2nd May 2019, 0:20

    Even 25 years after that dreadful race weekend, I stand by my thoughts at the time that given the death of Ratzenburger and Barricello’s horrific crash, the race should have been cancelled.

    1. @maddme ominous.
      I recall the 2014 Japanese gp, in free practice at the last chicane a tractor was on track just as ricciardo was passing by, as the 2 images overlayed one could not fathom, what if a car hits the tractor? The rest is, unfortunately, history.

    2. @maddme There was no valid reason to as the cause of both accidents was pretty much known by Sunday morning & neither was caused by the track which met every safety requirement that was asked of it. Rubens went into the corner too fast & Roland suffered a front wing failure that was caused by damage when he made a mistake & ran off track the lap before.

      There had been plenty of races before Imola that had seen serious accidents & even fatalities during practice/qualifying & the race always went ahead be it F1 or any other category. If you have a fundamental problem with the track then yes you look at canceling the rest of the weekend but if the track meets the safety standards & wasn’t the cause of an accident then you carry on. That’s how it had always been & the same was true afterwards.

      There have been cases since in Indycar where a driver has died on race day & the race has continued. Greg Moore on lap 9 of the 1999 Fontana race & Paul Dana during the morning warmup for the 2006 round at Homestead. And there was those 2 races in F1 at Monza in 2000 & Melbourne in 2001 where a track worker was killed by flying debris early in the races which continued on to the end.

      The mentality of those on the inside is that you carry on.

      1. According to Italian law, on the basis the Ratzenberger died at the scene, all racing should of stopped at that point as it is considered a crime scene and therefore is subject to a scene investigation. This is why the FIA with both Senna and Ratzenberger stated that both died in hospital and no at the race track to ensure the continuation of the weekend.

        This is not an isolated incident as five Melbourne doctors were investigated in by the Medical Practitioners Board of Victoria for altering the recorded time of death of track marshal Graham Beveridge during the 2001 Australian Grand Prix. Any fatalities or suspected fatalities that occurred at the race track had to be transported to the Alfred for certification of death, to be consistent with the agreed protocol. Although it was blatantly obvious Beveridge died instantly, the doctors continued resuscitation efforts to conform with the protocol.

    3. @maddme I feel like this would be strongly considered now, though perhaps attitudes have not altered (it’s hard to predict how people would react to something so emotionally extreme). one thing to bear in mind is that in 1994, many in the sport would have had strong memories back to a time when death in the sport was far more frequent and the show did go on even if a death occurred in the race, let alone in practice. it seems weird to think but of course 1994 was 25 years hence from 1969, when attitudes and actions toward death in the sport are essentially inconceivable now.

      1. Magnus Rubensson (@)
        2nd May 2019, 16:08

        Then step back another 25 years from 1969 you end up in World War 2.
        Times were different compared to now.

      2. 1994 was 25 years hence from 1969

        @frood19 – ooh, very nice way to put it.

  2. I don’t think wolff can tame Ocon. Ocon has done so much for mercedes that said I’m sure he would challenge Lewis if he could. Another potential issue is that Ocon is too tall.
    Bottas has been a troublesome surprise to Wolff, you can see the tame reactions whenever Bottas gets the pole or the win. Lewis has already hinted his dissatisfaction when he spoke to Di Resta so
    Mercedes needs to keep Hamilton happy, either Bottas stops performing well or Lewis is going to be a problem. It’s not like Lewis is that far from bottas, it’s early and probably, Lewis will still manage to beat Bottas.

    1. Lewis has already hinted his dissatisfaction when he spoke to Di Resta

      @peartree – what did he say/hint at? I don’t watch the pre/post-race stuff, so I’d missed this.

      @ben-n – very good comment, and a deserved CotD.

      1. @phylyp Lewi after congratulating Bottas said

        it was all lost in qualifying so; there’s nothing really for me to say but it was a great result for the team, honestly this is the best start of a season we have ever had.

        Only a point behind, still upset.

        1. Of course he’s going to be dissatisfied with 2nd place what a bleedingly obvious statement. He’s a serial winner, 2nd is the first loser to him. It doesn’t hint at any intra team conflict HOWEVER you can tell he has new respect for Bottas from the slightly awkward cool down room atmosphere, he’s going to start taking him seriously now as he had probably, as most did, written him off in his head as a competitor.

        2. @peartree I highly doubt Bottas’ form is a ‘troublesome surprise’ to TW nor that he is reacting ‘tamely’ when VB poles or wins. As long as they are doing 1-2’s he doesn’t care who is leading.

          Wrt ‘still upset’ let’s recall him saying he was ‘too friendly’ to VB and therefore ‘handed it to him’ at the start of Baku. The gloves are coming off.

        3. Thanks for that @peartree

  3. I realise that I always find it odd to see Senna in the 1994 Williams. To me 1994 was a real turning point, the watershed between the ‘ancient’ F1 and ‘modern F1’. The ancient F1 was the era of Prost, Senna, Mansell, Piquet and the new F1 was the era of Schumacher, Hill, Hakkinen. It was also the time that big teams as Brabham and Lotus folded along with all the ‘amateur’ teams (Lola, Life, Dallara, Larousse, Pacific, Andrea Moda etc). And it was also the time that I started watching F1. Seeing the ‘ancient’ Senna in a ‘modern’ F1-car feels weird. I have a similar feeling with images of Mansell in the 1994 Williams or the ’95 McLaren.

    1. @matthijs – I agree, I have a framed picture of him in the car at Interlagos and I still find it strange to see him in the Williams.

      In terms of the era breakdown of F1, I always think of 1995-1997 as a transition period before modern F1 started in 1998.

    2. @matthijs, @ben-n
      I suppose it’s odd that I don’t find it odd at all. I mean, I visually reckon Senna in that Williams one of the most good-looking combinations in the F1 history:

      – His helmet surely is one of the finest.
      – The FW16 (and his immediate predecessors) arguably has the sexiest design lines a F1 car can possibly have.
      – The Rothmans livery is something beautiful.

      I always thought the helmet and the livery fitted so well together. Something that makes me sad is being deprived of the possibility of having a fine #1 Williams-Rothmans-Senna in my miniature collection.

      But now that you pointed out that turning point, it really puts the things onto perspective.

      1. @niefer You are certainly not odd, I am :) I agree Senna in that Williams is one of the most good-looking combinations. Shame it only lasted 3 GPs…

  4. Thanks for the Comment of the Day, nice to wake up to! Thanks @phylyp as well for your kind words.

    Ocon is a really interesting case and I’ll be curious to see where he ends up; if he makes it back at all. Hamilton makes noises about quitting, but I don’t feel like Ocon is a replacement for him. A Bottas-Ocon line-up feels underwhelming to me for a top team. If Bottas continues this run of form (which I admit to still having some doubts about), then surely Ocon will have to leave the Mercedes “family” (a term I hate, incidentally!).

    Are Mercedes suffering from not having a true junior team? If Ocon joins Wehrlein in leaving then they’ve lost two very promising talents; plus the question of George Russell, who looks too good for Williams at the moment.

    The team is fast enough to get results with almost any driver on the grid at the moment, so perhaps they’re not as worried about having a line of progression behind the current drivers.

    1. As much as I do not rate his driving, I think were Hamilton to retire then Mercedes would aggressively pursue Vettel.

      Mercedes is a major team and requires a box office figure, they would throw the kitchen sink to get Vettel or Max onboard, maybe MAYBE Danny Ric if his reputation doesn’t take too much of a battering this season but my god his stock must be low after the Baku debacle.

  5. I share the same sentiments as the COTD. I hope Ocon to get back to being a full-time F1 race driver, but not at the expense of Bottas especially if he can keep on matching Hamilton throughout the season.

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