Caption: The young Aryton Senna
The death of Aryton Senna was one of the biggest events
to ever occur in Formula 1’s history. The events leading up to the incident: Senna's
third and final race of the 1994 season, the San
Marino Grand Prix, was held on the "Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari" circuit located in
Imola, Italy. Imola had traditionally been considered the beginning of the F1
season proper, on European soil.
During the afternoon qualifying session, Senna's
compatriot and protégé Rubens
involved in a serious accident when his Jordan became airborne at the Variante
Bassa chicane (the last of the circuit) violently slamming into the tyres and
fence. In the impact, Barrichello suffered a broken nose and arm; injuries that
prevented him from competing in the race. Barrichello indicated that Senna was
the first person he saw upon regaining consciousness.
The next day, Saturday, Austrian rookie driver Roland
killed during qualifying in a devastating accident when the front wing of his
Simtek-Ford broke while going flat out at the fast Villeneuve right-hand bend,
sending the car into a concrete wall. A distraught Senna requested a track
marshall to take him to the site of Ratzenberger's fatal crash. Senna was met
by FIA's Medical Chief Professor Sid Watkins, who recalled that Senna
was tearful, despite having only just met Ratzenberger the previous day.
Professor Watkins suggested to Senna on that occasion to stop racing and go fishing (a hobby they both
shared), to which Senna said he could not stop racing.
To obtain information about his injured colleagues that
weekend, Senna climbed the fence of the Medical Centre after he inspected the
crash site. Senna had commandeered an official's car to visit that site, yet
the FIA chose not to take any formal disciplinary actions against Senna.
Senna spent his final morning making time to meet with
fellow drivers to discuss the re-establishment of a drivers' group (i.e. Grand Prix Drivers' Association) in an attempt to increase
safety in Formula One, because of that weekend's tragic events. As the most senior
driver, Senna offered to take the role of leader, starting from the next race
event in Monaco. During the drivers' briefing, complaints were raised about the
use of a Porsche 911 lead car (for commercial reasons) for the warm-up lap.
At the start of the Grand Prix race, Senna retained the
lead from Schumacher but proceedings soon became interrupted by a huge accident
on the start line, caused by JJ Lehto's Benetton-Ford stalling,
and an unsighted Pedro Lamy ramming him in his
Lotus-Mugen Honda at nearly full speed. A wheel was torn off the car and landed
in the main grandstand, injuring eight fans and a police officer. The safety
car, a sporty version of the Opel Vectra medium family saloon,
was deployed and the drivers followed it for several laps. The Vectra's slow
pace was later questioned because of the consequential drop in tyre pressures
on the Formula One cars. Under those safety car conditions, video footage shows
Senna pulling alongside the Vectra, gesticulating to the Vectra driver,Max
to increase his speed. On the restart (lap
6), Senna immediately set a quick pace with the third quickest lap of the race,
followed by Schumacher.
Caption: The terrible accident that cause Senna's death.
As Senna entered the high-speed Tamburello corner on lap
7, the car left the track at around 205 mph (330 km/h), hitting the
concrete retaining wall at around 135 mph (217 km/h), after what
telemetry showed to be an application of the brakes for around 2 seconds. The
red flag was shown as a consequence of the accident. Within two minutes of
crashing, Senna was extracted from his race car by Professor Sid
his medical team. Initial treatment took place by the side of the car, with
Senna having a weak heartbeat and significant blood loss (approximately 4.5litres). Because of Senna's poor
neurological condition, Professor Watkins performed an onsite tracheotomy and
requested the immediate airlifting of Senna to Bologna's Maggiore Hospital,
where he was declared dead hours later. Watkins later said that as soon as he
saw Senna's fully dilated pupils, he knew that his brainstem was inactive and that
he would not survive.
It was later revealed that, as medical staff examined
Senna, a furled Austrian flag was found in his
car—a flag that he had intended to raise in honour of Ratzenberger after the
Upon watching the documentary on Aryton Senna’s life and
death, I couldn’t believe how nice the man was, and I definitely felt saddened by
the passing of this legend.
Source: Senna (2010) documentary.