Watch: 'Senna - The Last Weekend' mini-documentary
On this day 24 years ago, Formula 1 lost one of its most revered drivers when Ayrton Senna died at the San Marino Grand Prix. Motorsport TV's documentary recounts his final days
May 1, 1994 left an indelible mark on Formula 1 history after three-time world champion Ayrton Senna perished in an accident on lap seven of the San Marino Grand Prix.
To commemorate events which transpired on that fateful day, Autosport and Motorsport TV have put together a mini-documentary, Senna – The Last Weekend, recounting every step of an ultimately tragic grand prix weekend at Imola.
Watch: Senna – The Last Weekend
Practice on Friday had already brought about concerns over safety following a violent crash involving Rubens Barrichello. His Jordan 194 had launched over kerbing at Variante Bassa at full speed, catapulting Senna’s compatriot into a tyre barrier, flipping and knocking Barrichello unconscious.
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Though Barrichello would recover, one day later tragedy stuck as Roland Ratzenberger’s Simtek careered into a concrete barrier at close to 200mph. Senna immediately rushed to the crash site at Villeneuve Corner, taken aback by Ratzenberger’s accident in which his front wing had snapped off and fallen underneath the Simtek S941. Ratzenberger succumbed to his injuries shortly afterwards.
Senna spoke later that day with FIA safety and medical delegate and close confidant Professor Sid Watkins, in which the subject of retiring from F1 came up.
'You've been world champion three times. You are obviously the quickest driver. Give it up and let's go fishing,' said Watkins.
Yet Senna would climb aboard a racing car for the last time next morning, leading away a safety car restart on lap five of Sunday’s grand prix after starting from pole.
Two laps later, one of F1’s greatest drivers was gone. Arguably all of motorsport hasn't been the same since as the relentless quest for safety took on a new place of prominence.
It may be nearly a quarter of a century later, but the loss is still just as raw today as it was then.
Photos by LAT Images
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