It’s the twentieth anniversary of the horrible weekend that shook the Formula 1 community and fans around the world, because of the tragic deaths of two drivers, Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna. The Austrian was only in his third Grand Prix weekend when he crashed into the concrete barriers at 315 km/h during Saturday’s qualifying session. He died on impact. One day later, the legendary Brazilian, three times F1 world champion and universally praised for his driving style and his attitude both on and off track, crashed off the track just a few laps into the race. He was fatally injured, and taken to a nearby hospital by helicopter, but wouldn’t make it to the end of the day.
To keep his spirit alive, here a five video’s of unforgettable moments on the track, which show his superiority in wet driving conditions, his devotion to win and his continuous dedication towards driver safety.
Phoenix 1990: an epic battle between Ayrton Senna and Jean Alesi
1990 is the first full year of Formula 1 for Jean Alesi, but on the streets of Phoenix he has no intention of being intimidated by a former world champion. When Senna passes Alesi at the end of the straight, he cut the turn too tight and the Frenchman immediately dives into the gap to regain his position. This battle continues as Alesi just won’t give up, and at one moment they go two cars wide through one of the tightest turns of the track. Eventually, Senna wins the United States Grand Prix and praises Alesi, who came in second place.
Interlagos 1991: Senna’s first victory at his home Grand Prix
Senna’s first Brazilian Grand Prix victory takes place in 1991, despite only being able to use sixth gear for the last couple of laps. After passing the checkered flag, Senna is delirious with joy and screams his lungs out. The final laps have been so toilsome that he is unable to get out of his car by himself, and the medical car is needed to take him to the podium.
Spa-Franchorchamps 1992: Senna saves Erik Comas
During qualifying for the 1992 Belgian Grand Prix, Erik Comas crashes badly in the high-speed turn Blanchimont. Ayrton Senna is the first to arrive on the scene and doesn’t think twice to help the unconscious Frenchman. He parks his race car and as other cars drive by, he turns off the wrecked car’s engine to prevent a fire and then helps the safety marshals to stabilize Comas’ head.
Monte Carlo 1992: Ayrton Senna vs. Nigel Mansell
Nigel Mansell is in the lead of the 1992 Monaco Grand Prix, when he needs to take an emergency pit stop to fasten a loose wheel nut. He returns onto the track behind Senna, but thanks to his much fresher tires he is able to close the gap quickly. The mustached Brit sets a couple of subsequent fastest laps and is right onto the Brazilian’s gearbox three laps before the finish. What follows are three laps of the much faster Mansell trying to overtake his opponent in virtually every corner of the track, but finding no gap to get past. Across the finish line, the gap is no more than two tenths of a second in Senna’s advantage. Mansell is not to proud to praise the Brazilian’s drive: “It was an honest fight and he deserved this victory. His drive was superb.”
Donington Park 1993: an amazing first lap by Senna
A wet start of the 1993 European Grand Prix sees Ayrton Senna fall back into fifth position, but he is a master in these conditions and before the end of the first lap, he has already overtaken Michael Schumacher, Karl Wendlinger, Damon Hill and Alain Prost into the lead. He will continue his superb drive to finish almost one and a half minute ahead of Hill, with Prost in third position, but more than a lap behind Senna.