Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger tribute, Imola, 2024

Vettel brings F1 drivers together to remember Senna and Ratzenberger

Formula 1

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Formula 1 drivers and other paddock members marked the 30th anniversary of the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger ahead of the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix.

Four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel led the event which began on the pit straight at the Imola circuit where the pair lost their lives during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend.

The event included running a lap of the circuit and stopping to pay tribute to the two drivers at the scenes of their crashes. Despite heavy rainfall later in the afternoon the drivers assembled at the statue of three-times world champion Senna by Tamburello corner before going on to complete their laps of the track.

The drivers who T-shirts bearing Senna’s helmet colours and the message ‘Forever Senna’, and wristbands carrying tributes to Ratzenberger, who was making his third appearance at a grand prix weekend when he crashed.

“Thirty years ago, people here at this place lived through a horrible set of events,” said Vettel in a video on social media. “We had an incredibly bad accident on Friday with Rubens Barrichello that, luckily, was only mildly injured.

“On Saturday Roland Ratzenberger – which the wristband is for – from Austria, lost his life crashing out in qualifying. And on Sunday, we lost a true legend of our sport, Ayrton Senna.

“Ayrton was a special man. Inside the car his achievements were, probably to this day, unparalleled. Look at the amount of pole positions and wins in that short amount of time, the cars that he wrestled around the track, the conditions he propelled and beat the opposition. Many reasons to be a Senna fan, even if he’s not your favourite driver, he was an incredible person in the car, but also outside the car. For the Brazilian people, the importance, the role that he played for the people in that generation for that time.

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“He was one of the first ones to stand up for causes outside racing. He inspired people to try to help and push education and try to fight poverty in Brazil. So lots of reasons to take inspiration from him.”

Some drivers have special tribute balaclavas which they will wear during the weekend and Pierre Gasly has produced a helmet in Senna’s colours.

“It’s a colleague that unfortunately many of us, all of us today driving the cars, never had the chance to meet to fight on the track – but also to meet and get inspired outside the track,” Vettel added.

“Today was about honouring Ayrton Senna and Ratzenberger,” said Sergio Perez. “Thanks to Seb for organizing this.”

Pictures: Drivers pay tribute to Senna and Ratzenberger

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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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15 comments on “Vettel brings F1 drivers together to remember Senna and Ratzenberger”

  1. Good images & also some viable Caption Competition candidates in the mix.

  2. Great to see Bottas & Verstappen are individuals.

    1. Verstappen forgot to remove his jacket like Lando is halfway but he wore his t-shirt too seems it’s colder then he likes :)

  3. A very fitting tribute to the two lost drivers. I still remember the day and that weekend quite clearly.

    1. I remember it like a bad dream.

  4. It always feels awkward that people feel obliged to add Ratzenberger into Senna tribute activities, even though nobody remembers or cares about him (which is perfectly fine). There have been 32 deaths in F1, but his particular death has to always be brought up next to Senna’s only because he died at the same venue.
    And so the memory of a driver who competed in just 1 F1 GP is celebrated more than that of most F1 champions. This is so forced and unnecessary.

    1. But what if people do actually care about him, because he was one of them? And that his passing too led to safety improvements they all benefit from to this day? And that he was passionate about a sport they’re also all passionate about? And that he was a good person just like the guy who passed away a day later? Is it not worth remembering both, only because the latter was more successful?

      I feel that the level of success is already reflected enough in the amount of Senna tributes vs the amount of Ratzenberger tributes around the world. In general, but specifically at this location, with this group of people, it’s a pretty shameful claim to say Ratzenberger is not worth remembering.

      1. To expand upon, “his passing too led to safety improvements”, Roland Ratzenberger’s death led to the reformation of the GPDA. Ayrton Senna was its first president (sadly, for less than 24 hours).

    2. reply to Asd- I think Roland Ratzenberger was less petulant and entitled than Senna, but then he wasn’t as good a driver (who was?). Whenever I see a venue where a driver I remember died, I think about them. You are entitled to your opinion, of course, but I think that you are wrong when you say that no one remembers or cares about Ratzenberger. You just lack imagination.

      1. “you are wrong when you say that no one remembers or cares about Ratzenberger..” – That’s the whole point, man! He is only remembered for dying “with” Senna!
        As a driver he was a nobody, he certainly wasn’t Stefan Bellof, was he?
        Other than that, every death in F1 led to some changes being made that others benefited from. That’s nothing special under the sun.

        @Ruben
        Are you as passionate for Elio de Angelis who died in 1986 as you are for Ratzenberger? Of course not, but you would be if he had died on the same weekend as Senna. So stop being hypocritical.

        1. Reply to Asd- I respect those drivers who died doing what they loved, perhaps not equally, but I honestly do. Of course Gilles is at the top of this morbid list, along with Paletti, Bianchi, and Peterson. I wasn’t watching on television when de Angelis or Depallier died, as they were testing, not at a race weekend. But I remember them. I remember María de Villota too. There’s nothing wrong with acknowledging their lives.
          After reading your response, I think that you lack empathy as well as imagination, and I kind of feel sorry for you.

        2. Asd – This isn’t about me, you’re questioning the participating drivers’ honesty in honouring one of their fellow racers.

          I can get your basic point: yes, Senna meant a lot to a lot more people than Ratzenberger. But to say “nobody remembers or cares about him (which is perfectly fine)” is incredibly insensitive to the people who were hurt by his passing and it’s not up to you to decide if people were or weren’t hurt by it.

          Furthermore Ratzenberger’s crash will always be part of the Senna story, just like Barrichello’s FP crash. It’s not a bad thing that Senna will always be part of the Ratzenberger story too.

  5. But what if people do actually care about him, because he was one of them? And that his passing too led to safety improvements they all benefit from to this day? And that he was passionate about a sport they’re also all passionate about? And that he was a good person just like the guy who passed away a day later? Is it not worth remembering both, only because the latter was more successful?

    I feel that the level of success is already reflected enough in the amount of Senna tributes vs the amount of Ratzenberger tributes around the world. In general, but specifically at this location, with this group of people, it’s a pretty shameful claim to say Ratzenberger is not worth remembering.

    1. Edit: double, can be deleted.

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