Emotion and passion today at Imola’s Enzo e Dino Ferrari Circuit during the event organised to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger. Paying tribute on behalf of Scuderia Ferrari to the two drivers who died back in 1994 were Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Jules Bianchi and Pedro de la Rosa. With them was the Director of Racing Activities Antonello Coletta and the Sporting Director, Massimo Rivola.
From the pit straight, the drivers walked down to Tamburello corner, where in beautiful sunshine, there was a short commemoration service in honour of Ayrton Senna who died at this spot. There were brief speeches, bringing to life the memories and recollections of those who had known the great driver from Sao Paulo. At 14h17, the exact time that the driver crashed at the wheel of a Williams on lap 7 of the San Marino Grand Prix, a minute’s silence was observed.
Even though they never raced in the Senna era, both Fernando and Kimi had words to say about the Brazilian champion. Particularly touching was Alonso’s recollection. “I can well remember the photos in the papers and seeing on the TV news the stories of the duels between the McLarens of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna. He had the number 1 on his car and I raced karts thinking about him, of his yellow helmet that was always winning,” said the Spaniard. “I also competed in karting in Italy, working with someone who had been his mechanic when he raced in that category and so you can imagine how important that was for me. I had a poster of him up in my bedroom. The only positive thing to come out of the weekend that took Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger away from us was that, from then on, safety in Formula 1 improved significantly. In fact, we can say that inside our cars there is something of the legacy of Senna and Raztzenberger, because after that terrible 1994, nothing was ever the same again.”
As for Raikkonen, he had this to say about Ayrton: I was very young. I saw the accident on TV and what I remember most is that, the next day at school we talked about it. Senna was very important for Formula 1, as a driver and a person and his death led to a rapid acceleration in the process of increasing the level of safety in our sport. That has avoided other tragedies from occurring. Unfortunately however, one cannot change the past, neither for Ayrton nor for Roland Ratzenberger. The only thing we can do is remember this champion, whose exploits defined the history of Formula 1 for a long time.”
Kimi speaking about Ayrton Senna