What is the 1994 Ayrton Senna F1 tragedy at San Marino GP?

Formula 1’s 2024 season not only marks the competition’s 74th edition but also the 30th anniversary of Ayrton Senna’s tragic event at the 1994 San Marino GP.

Even after 30 years, the 1994 San Marino GP tragedy remains the darkest weekend in Formula 1’s history.

1994 San Marino GP Tragedy: What happened to Ayrton Senna?

On May 1st, 1994, Williams driver Ayrton Senna, the three-time F1 World Champion, died tragically due to a crash while leading the San Marino GP at the Imola Circuit in Italy.

The tragedy of Ayrton Senna started on Lap 6 of the San Marino GP, where he was leading from 1st position and Michael Schumacher behind him at 2nd. On Lap 7—his last lap ever—Senna’s Williams went off the track in a straight line at Tamburello and crashed into the concrete barrier straight on. Telemetry visuals later showed that he burst into the corner at 309 km/h, braked hard, double-downshifted, and hit the barrier at 211 km/h.

The crash tore off the front-right wheel and hit the front-right area of Senna’s helmet, causing skull fractures. A piece of the wheel’s suspension also partially penetrated his helmet. His helmet visor was also pierced by a jagged piece just above his right eye. In the end, Ayrton Senna died due to any of these three injuries and lay motionless in his Williams FW16.

Although Ayrton Senna’s death was the most highlighted crash, the 1994 San Marino GP also experienced the death of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenberger (just a day before Senna’s death), and other severe non-fatal crashes.

Imola to honor Aryton Senna on 30th anniversary of 1994 tragedy

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the 1994 San Marino tragedy, this year’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola will have a special tint in memory of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.

Last year, the Grand Prix at Imola was cancelled due to torrential floods that killed several people and displaced thousands. Following Formula 1’s re-entry on Imola grounds, the region’s president, Stefano Bonaccini, stated, “As a region, we fervently wanted the return of Formula 1 to Imola, a central event in the rich calendar of sporting events in Emilia-Romagna.”

Emphasizing the commemoration, he added, “This year, the Grand Prix is ​​enriched with other profound meanings: the memory of a champion as beloved as Ayrton Senna and a strong signal of restart in Romagna hit by the flood.”

Imola already has monuments honoring the two Formula 1 legends, like the Ratzenberger stand at the Tosa hairpin and the Senna statue in Tamburello. The 2024 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix is scheduled to take place between May 17th and May 19th.

Is Ayrton Senna the greatest Formula 1 driver to ever race? Would he have surpassed Michael Schumacher if he were alive? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.


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