Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Imola, 2020

Hamilton: Memories of Senna “harsh” but also “heart-warming” on return to Imola

2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton said inspecting the Imola circuit today was a “harsh reminder” of Ayrton Senna’s death at the track in 1994.

But the Mercedes driver said he finds it heart-warming to think he is racing on the same circuits as the the sport’s past greats and his personal hero.

“Obviously, the history of 1994 is something we always remember,” said Hamilton. “I went ’round today and it was a really special lap, just going round and seeing this historic track, passing the harsh reminder of where Ayrton crashed.”

Hamilton said he is still struck by the fact he races on great venues of the sport’s history such as Imola.

“It is very surreal still for me when I go to places where you drive through the tunnel in Monaco, you drive through the British Grand Prix where you know that the greats in the past had raced at those places.

“Earlier on I was in an area that many years, 26 years ago, Ayrton was here doing what he loved as I am. So that’s in one way that’s heart-warming to know that I was able to be here and do what he was doing 26 years ago. But otherwise it’s just another race.”

He said touring the track reminded him of his first experiences visiting new countries when he was racing karts as a boy.

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“What I was really impressed with was just the surroundings, the trees. It’s a beautiful part of the country.

The Ayrton Senna Memorial at Tamburello
“It really took me back to when you first go to a country – when I first came to Italy when I raced it was so much different to the UK scenery-wise. I remember that feeling the first time and I felt that and I’ve not felt that in a long, long time.

“Today, going around the track, it really was reminiscent of my first days and my time when I was karting here so it just reminded me of the love that I have for Italy.”

Hamilton recalled learning of Senna’s death on May 1st, 1994 while he was competing in a karting event and how it affected him at the time.

“I was racing at Rye House in karting. My dad had a red Vauxhall Cavalier and we had a white box trailer with a gas heater shoved at the deep end of the trailer and I was helping my dad fix the kart, changing the wheel. I think I was helping to do the bolts up on the rear wheel of my cadet kart.

“I don’t know how he got the news but someone told him that Ayrton had died. And I remember I had to walk away from my dad because my dad would never let me cry in front of him. So I had to go to a different place and it was not so easy.

“I remember trying to channel that that sadness into my driving and I think I won that weekend. But the following weeks were very tough.”

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2020 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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17 comments on “Hamilton: Memories of Senna “harsh” but also “heart-warming” on return to Imola”

  1. A win for senna on Sunday from Hamilton

  2. I doubt we would get a williams win but all that has happened in this crazy year I would put money on Charles. Like after Enzo died in ’88 this would be the place for Ferrari to win it and end Mercedes’ winning streak like they did to Mclaren then.

  3. More platitudes for the media from Lewis…

    1. He talks of how impressive Italy is, and a personal story of how he heard the news of Senna’s death. I’m definitely with you if you want to make fun of this pink panther costume, but in terms of what he said you’re way off the mark.

    2. Do one, seriously! If that’s what you took from that article I despair. Hamilton has spoken about senna as his inspiration ever since he entered the sport – I think he quite eloquently explains here why it’s significant for him to be racing at the track where senna died. I’m generally not a fan of Hamilton but he’s been a class act in and out of the car this season.

      1. Great place for emulation

        1. Wait, emulate what melanos, did you really just imply Hamilton should die this weekend?! Hope I misunderstood because that is reprehensible.

        2. @keithcollantine – surely this comment cannot be allowed to stay up here?

    3. I have lost all respect for this man, look at him and listen to him, he is a walking celebrity machine, nothing else.

  4. That is some outfit, Lewis.

    1. I’m jealous. I like that raspberry suit, it’s like the ’80s but tailored better. But I’m a flabby straight guy with a desk job, so I can’t wear stuff like that.

  5. You don’t see a man in head to toe in pink on a scooter everyday.

    1. Although to be fair pink dressed drivers in pink racing cars are quiet common.

      1. The fit is not a problem for me, but that is very much not a color that I can wear and look good.

  6. Neil (@neilosjames)
    31st October 2020, 0:19

    Interesting that he remembers so well. I’m close to his age and it’s one of the ‘moments’ I recall as well… heard about it on the radio in my dad’s car on the way back to my mum’s house. Was sat on the back seat, left side, waiting for the lights to change to green at some traffic lights. Drive the same route a few days a week and could point out the exact place the car was parked up in 1994.

    1. I am 2 years older than Hamilton and remember it as it was yesterday. It was Easter Sunday and a family gathering. The race was at 3pm so we were eating and the TV was on despite my mother’s objections.

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