Thursday, 1 May 2014


20 years ago I cried, cried tears for a man I never knew, spoke to or had even seen in the flesh.

I cried when Ayrton Senna lost his life behind the wheel of a Formula One car, a car which he was particularly adept at driving fast while handling it with a silky smooth touch.

I was 12 years old, I knew of Niki Lauda’s accident, of Jim Clark’s death and had seen some big accidents, but the drivers always bounced up and out.

When Roland Ratzenberger lost his life the day before, my 12 yr old brain was sad yes but knew the drivers, led by Senna would pay him a fitting tribute the following day. How wrong was I?

May 1, 1994 was when us youngsters fully understood the danger of F1 and our fathers and grandfathers looked on knowingly, they’d been there.

In the era before Breaking News took hold, I remember the BBC coverage of the San Marino grand prix, the excited and irrepressible Murray Walker and the safe hands of Steve Rider.

Both knew Senna, to hear Murray’s voice go from his fizzy pop ‘anything can happen’ bounce to a slow, morose and at times emotional tone fully conveyed this wasn’t just a run of the mill accident.

And Rider went from the host back to a news journalist, conveying what was known and not speculation.

All of the time there was still, farcically a grand prix taking place! I can’t remember who won the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix and maybe no one else can either.

20 years on and F1 is more safer and no fan young or old has had to revisit that day, Schumacher had a huge accident at Silverstone in 1999 and only had a broken leg.

Cars go upside down, tyres puncture at high speeds, accidents still happen but this generation still go home at the end of the race.

Senna’s legacy is the fact that all F1 drivers still step into those machines, still go for that overtake, still push for that vital hundredth of a second off their lap time.

They do so with the fear, the fear it could be the last time they do, only when the fear becomes too much is it time to hang up the helmet

That’s something Ayrton Senna never got the chance to do. Thank you for the memories Ayrton, may you continue to rest in peace

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