The 1994 San Marino GP: Michael Schumacher’s 5th Win and Senna’s Loss Forever
The 1994 F1 Season
The 1994 season did not go much of Senna’s way. The opening two races of the season went in favour of Michael Schumacher where he ended with twenty points. Senna, on the other hand, did not even make one point. At the beginning of the year, no one in the world would have believed that this would be the outcome after two races – Senna with zero points.
Senna in a Williams was supposed to be the world-beater, but at the moment things were not just working out. Going to San Marino, the third race of the season, Senna was optimistic. In fact, he had said that for the Williams the season started from San Marino. So, it was fourteen races for Senna versus sixteen races for everybody else.
The pre-race interview by Murray, shows Senna and the championship leader, Michael Schumacher, appearing calm and collected.
Schumacher does admit that the season was poised to go Senna’s way.
Let’s find out the painful truth.
Did You Know?
The Imola circuit in 1994 had caused a few casualties even before the race.
Barrichello during practice had his car thrown sideways injuring him in the process.
The saddest though was the Argentinian Roland Ratzenberger, losing his life during the qualifying session.
The 1994 San Marino GP Qualifying
The qualifying session was once again dominated by Senna, storming to his sixty-fifth pole. In the 1994 season, Senna was at the pole for every race from the beginning. Also, Michael Schumacher, the main contender and championship leader, was in the second position for every race.
Here is one look at the Senna’s qualifying time:
Suggestion: The video is not in English. Readers can mute and watch.
Senna’s first run does not get him the pole, so he goes around for a second run immediately and secures the pole.
Although everything was not rosy in the qualifying, as the Argentinian driver, Roland Ratzenberger, overshot one of the kerbs and hit the wall at about 200 kmph. The session was stopped, momentarily. After the restart and completion of the session was it known that Roland had not survived.
Incidentally, even in the free practice session, Barrichello went off the track and had a severe accident. He was injured too, but nothing critical.
Senna was disturbed by these events and had called a drivers meeting to stress on safety. He was heading the drivers’ association at that point.
The 1994 San Marino GP – Race Day
For the first time, Senna had a good start and was leading Michael Schumacher. However, it did not last long as one of the cars starting from the back collided with a stationary car on the grid. That led to a lot of debris on the start-finish line. The tire of one of the vehicles even flew into the crowd, but luckily no one was injured.
Under the given circumstances, the race couldn’t continue even under yellow flags, so the safety car came in. As a rule, the safety car would stay out for five laps.
Here is a race summary. Take a look:
As the race restarted, Schumi and Senna put up a blistering lap and then on lap seven, disaster struck. At the Tamburello corner, Senna’s car, instead of negotiating the high-speed left turn, went straight on to hit the wall. Such was the impact that the vehicle was destroyed in seconds. Senna was unconscious, and the race was stopped.
Soon, Senna was airlifted, and the race resumed. The break in the race meant that times put up racers before and after the stop would be considered to compute track position. So, while Schumacher was behind Berger on track, time-wise he was ahead. When Schumacher did overtake Berger eventually, he ended up resolving the difference in time and track position.
From thereon, Schumacher went on to his third consecutive victory for the 1994 season.
Sadness Eclipsed the Celebrations
By the time the race was over, the teams and drivers came to know of Senna’s death. Senna was declared dead at the hospital. There were investigations pending on what had happened. No matter what would be the outcome of the inquiry, Senna was lost forever.
Here is one of the last moments of Senna in and around the San Marino GP circuit.
Senna says Miss You Alain!
Though the San Marino GP of 1994 happens to be Michael Schumacher’s fifth career win, it would never be remembered for that. The only reminder that race would have was the greatest loss for F1.
Senna’s loss was so immense that even after twenty-five years, fans are yet to come to terms with the incident.
Did You Know?
The 1994 San Marino GP was where Senna won his last pole. Senna’s record of 65 poles stood for 12 years.
Michael Schumacher eventually broke the record when he took his 66th pole in the San Marino GP in 2006; the same circuit where Senna’s took his 65th.
Back to the Garage
Michael Schumacher made a perfect thirty, winning three races in succession. Sadly, the main person for whom the 1994 season was set up was not around anymore. Senna’s loss had already taken the fun out of the 1994 season for ardent fans. However, the races went on, and so did the season.
At the time of the accident, in one frame when Senna crashes, Michael passes him. Metaphorically, the baton was passed on from one legend to another budding one!
Questions & Answers
© 2020 S K