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Emilia Romagna GP: I hold a candle for Imola

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Emilia Romagna GP: I Hold a Candle for Imola

1st of May 1994 1pm UK time

9yrs old, sitting in parent’s front room for the start of the San Marino Grand Prix. The fascination of Formula 1 in its infancy, the excitement of race days starting to build – being taught about the drivers, teams and rules with every race. The events of the day before really hadn’t been processed fully as they seemed unbelievable…

The race starts and immediately a crash! Lahto and Lamy come together on the main straight, and the safety car comes out. Excitement and action from minute one – however with no idea what tragedy was about to happen next….
1st of May 1994 1.17pm UK time…

With the race underway and looking like a cracking battle developing between Senna and Schumacher, the race approached Tamburello until the unthinkable happened – Senna left the track to the scene of his accident. The front room went silent as the events unfurled, the attempts to free Senna from the wreckage broadcast for the world to see. The TV pictures and commentary could not convey the drama unfolding. My parents – obviously realising the seriousness of it – turned off the tv and an unplanned afternoon out of the house was then planned. On returning home, turning on the tv to see news coverage breaking the devastating news of Senna’s death…..and changing the spectacle of Formula 1 forever…

The way I watched Formula 1 from that moment changed. 

Even at that age – the speed, thrill and intrigue was already there – but now all these were covered by a large layer of respect. 

31st October 2020

Fast forwarding 26 yrs to the present day and Imola returns to the calendar for the first time since 2006, the feeling towards the track and race holds totally different emotions for me than any other.

On race day, it’ll my turn to be the parent watching the race with my kids, who are around the age I was back then, and explaining to them what is happening – but of course now – (however unfortunate and tragic they were) thanks to the events of 1994 – the car design is a lot safer and the safety of the drivers almost secured. 

I won’t lie, the emotion of that day in 1994 will sit with me throughout the whole race this weekend, a tear may be shed.

Only people who witnessed that weekend in 1994 – either on tv or live at the event – will understand the feelings and emotions of seeing this track returning. I truly hope we see a stunning race at this great circuit – with everything crossed that we will never have to experience these feelings again. 

Roland Ratzenberger: 4th July 1960 – 30th April 1994
Ayrton Senna: 21st March 1960 - 1st May 1994

More From The FormulaNerds

  1. You and I both sir! watched it live, visited Imola 3 months later. Talk about emotions when I sat in the main grandstand at Start/Finish during my personal portfolio…

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