Karolina Kurkova for Allure Russia, June 2014.
Ayrton Senna , 21st March 1960 – 1st May 1994
The 1994 race was to be the blackest weekend in the history of Formula 1 since the 1960 Belgian Grand Prix and it was to mark a watershed of developments to make F1 safer. It was marred by several accidents and two driver deaths over the weekend. On the Friday, during practice, Jordan driver Rubens Barrichello suffered a severe concussion in a collision at the Variante Bassa chicane in which he decelerated violently, went off the banked curbing and into the fence protecting the crowd from the circuit. The young Brazilian was knocked unconscious for a few minutes. The next day, in qualifying, Simtek driver Roland Ratzenberger crashed at the Villeneuve Corner after his front wing, which he damaged on his first qualifying lap, broke off and Ratzenberger, unable to steer the car into the corner, crashed almost head on into a retaining wall close to the track at nearly 195 mph, suffered a basilar skull fracture and was killed. Then finally, on race day, Benetton driver JJ Lehto and Lotus driver Pedro Lamy collided at the start, with debris flying over the fences injuring 8 spectators. Then, on Lap 7, Williams driver Ayrton Senna lost control of his vehicle, ran off course at the high-speed Tamburello corner while attempting to stop and crashed hard into a retaining wall next to the river flowing by the track. Although the accident looked heavy it seemed survivable, a piece of suspension and the right front wheel came off, both hit and pierced Senna’s helmet at extremely high speeds and caused critical head injuries; the triple-world champion Brazilian died from his injuries at a hospital in Bologna hours later. Later in the race, a wheel from Michele Alboreto’s Minardi came off while he was exiting the pitlane; it hit and injured 4 mechanics from Ferrari and Lotus. German Michael Schumacher won the race, with Ferrari temporary replacement Nicola Larini finishing 2nd, but there were no celebrations at all.
The reaction to these tragedies towards the sport itself was stunning. Not only had two drivers been killed, one being a triple World Champion, but these were the first fatalities in the sport’s history in eight years, and the first at a race meeting in 12 years. Fatalities up until the end of the 1982 season were commonplace; 1 or 2 drivers were killed every season. Much stronger and more efficient materials (such as carbon fiber) in the cars’ construction and an increase in track and driver safety over the years meant that fatalities became considerably less frequent.
1994 - venti anni fa - resta un idolo
Gone. But never forgotten!
On 1st May 1994 we lost more than a Formula One driver. We lost Ayrton Senna da Silva. We lost a hero. Two parents lost a son. Two young brazilians lost a brother. Many people lost a friend, and a girl lost her boyfriend. The Brazilian people lost an example, and the world lost a wonderful man. He was just a dreamer. He dreamed with better conditions for poor people, with education for the children and for a world more just. We lost in 1st May 1994, Beco! The silly boy who captivated all of us, nailing something in our hearts.
We lost, and today, we miss him…
AYRTON SENNA SEMPRE, 20 ANOS
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