I was casually browsing Youtube when I found a video of the news report on the day when Ayrton Senna died. Everyone remembers that on May 1, 1994, the Formula One triple world champion Ayrton Senna died in a crash that occurred while he was leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, but only a few know that another Formula One driver died in the same grand prix a day earlier on Saturday 30 April, 1994, during the qualifying. It was Roland Ratzenberger who died in the high speed crash he had which resulted in his death. But Senna’s death overshadowed Ratzenberger, and still today not many people know the fact that 2 Formula One drivers died in the same grand prix event making the darkest day in the history of Formula One racing.
Ayrton Senna died the following day. According to Wikipedia “When track officials examined the wreckage of Senna’s racing car, they found a furled Austrian flag. Senna had planned to raise it after winning the race, in honour of Ratzenberger.” Such a tragic incident really, makes you feel very sad about it.
Ratzenberger was doing 314.9 km/h when his car struck the wall. The cause of his death according to Wikipedia “Suffering front wing-damage on the previous lap, the high speed on the backstraight, and therefore high wind pressure, finally broke the wing off, sending it under Ratzenberger’s car. His car failed to turn into the Villeneuve Corner and struck the outside wall at 314.9 km/h. After the car carried on down the track, spinning around and stopping at the next corner, Ratzenberger’s lolling head was revealed; he had clearly broken his neck. The cause of death was a basal skull fracture.” On February 18, 2001 NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt also had a similar injury at the 2001 Daytona 500 when he had a high speed crash and died because of serious injuries.
The double tragedy was marked before the start of the next race in Monaco, with the front row of the grid left empty and the two slots painted with a Brazilian and Austrian flag. Although Formula One cars are a lot safer, thanks to the San Marino tragedy, and even after a high speed crash, the drivers survive the accident. But we still remember the drivers we have lost in motor racing. May their soul rest in peace…