- Can-Am Series
- Drag Racing Films
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- Road Tests
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This is the complete race as broadcast on LIVE TV.
The unpleasant atmosphere in Formula 1 in the Spring of 1994 was bubbling to the surface before the
San Marino GP, with pressure building for a solution to the problems of electronic driver aids, which
the FIA was obviously having trouble controlling. Although these aids were banned there was
suspicion that Benetton was still using them. No-one anticipated the disastrous weekend ahead.
It began on Friday when Rubens Barrichello crashed his Jordan heavily at the fast corner before the
pits. The car took off and hit the top of a barrier, and was then launched back onto the track where
it came to rest upside down. Barrichello was unconscious, but the medical teams saved him. Rubens
would sit out the rest of the weekend. Meanwhile, Ayrton Senna, driving his Williams to the limit, set
the fastest time of the day. The next day disaster struck again, when Roland Ratzenberger crashed
at high speed into the wall at Villeneuve Corner. A front wing flap had fallen off the car and launched
it off the ground at 200 mph. Roland was flown to a hospital, where he was officially pronounced dead.
At the start of the race, JJ Lehto stalled on the grid. Most of the cars missed JJ, but Pedro Lamy
slammed into the left rear of Lehto’s stationary car. The Lotus ‘s right hand wheels and other
wreckage was thrown high into the air, over the debris fence, then into the grandstand. Four people
were injured. A Safety Car paced the field for 4 laps while the wreckage was cleaned up and the
injured spectators looked after. When the race restarted, Senna was off again, with Schumacher on
his tail. At the start of the sixth lap, Senna’s car went straight off at Tamburello Corner, slamming
into the wall at high speed. The car bounced back towards the track, throwing wreckage into the air,
and slid to a halt beside the circuit. The doctors fought to save Senna’s life. The race was stopped
as Senna was airlifted by helicopter to the hospital, but it was clear early on that Ayrton was in
serious trouble. The extent of his injuries were not clear to many in the paddock. The race was
restarted from the grid. Schumacher easily took the lead on lap 6 of the new race, but during the
second round of pit stops, there was yet another accident. While on pit lane, Michele Alboreto’s
Minardi lost a wheel, which flew into a several pit crew members from Ferrari and Lotus. An
ambulance was called out yet again, this time to tend to injured crew members.
The race finally ended with Schumacher taking the win, Larini 2nd, and Hakkinen 3rd. By the time the
drivers took the podium, word of Senna’s condition was their only concern. The podium ceremony was
cut short. All thoughts were of Ayrton Senna.
This is the original BBC broadcast with Murray Walker on commentary. This is an extended DVD (dual
layer disc) which covers the entire race, including 30 minutes of the pre-race with interviews of
Senna and Schumacher discussing the crash of Barrichello and the death of Roland Ratzenberger.
Murray Walker remains the consummate professional throughout the race, even as news of Senna’s
grave situation makes it back to the press box.
Widely considered the worst day in modern F1 history, this race is somewhat hard to watch, but is
historically significant. New safety rules and even new track configurations were the only positives to
come out of this race, while the world mourned the loss of Roland Ratzenberger, and the driver
many consider to be one of the greatest in history, Ayrton Senna.