The saddest day in the history of Formula 1: 1994 Imola Grand Prix


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This weekend the Formula 1 returns to the historic Enzo e Dino Ferrari circuit Imola. After fourteen years, the Italian track will be home to a race of the highest category. However, the circuit is remembered for one of the most important tragedies in memory: the death of Roland ratzenberger Y Ayrton senna on May 1, 1994.

It all started on April 29, 1994. During those years, Formula 1 had two qualifying sessions due to the large number of cars competing in the grand prix. In total there were 28 cars that could race on Sunday. In this test, Rubens Barrichello had the worst accident of his career. After a mistake he flew at about 220 kilometers per hour against the wall. However, he only had one arm and a broken nose.

The first death

After the scare the day before, qualifying on Saturday had started normally. However, tragedy came to Imola quickly. The Austrian Roland Ratzenberger hit hard in a curve. Ratzenberger died on the spot as a result of a tear in the cranial base. He was contesting his third Grand Prix in Formula 1. Ironically, Ratzenberger would have qualified for Sunday’s race in a very slow car.

Senna’s death

Ratzenberger’s death should have been reason enough to cancel Sunday’s race. Italian law says that in the event of a tragedy at a sporting event, it must be suspended. However, it was decided otherwise. Ayrton Senna had raised the possibility of not competing after Saturday’s tragedy.

The Brazilian started first and an accident caused the safety car to leave for seven laps. When returning to speed, the Williams that Senna was driving got out of control and hit the historic Tamburello curve. At 306 kilometers per hour he crashed into the wall of tires. According to reports, the steering wheel bar cracked and this caused the incident. At 34, the flame of the best pilot in history was extinguished.


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