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Vettel: Senna stands for much more than his racing acheivements

senna vettel hamilton drivers f1 imola

Formula 1 set up for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix with an eye very much on the past – it’s 30 years since Ayrton Senna’s death – drivers led by retired World Champion paid their respects ahead of the 31st Grand Prix at Imola.

F1, F2, F3 drivers, engineers, mechanics and some media joined a memorial run around the Imola track on Thursday evening to mark the anniversary of three-time champion Senna’s death in a crash during the 1994 race there.

Senna was a childhood hero to many, including seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton, who was nine in 1994, and is a part of F1 history for the 13 current drivers who were not born when he was killed.

Drivers wore shirts in Senna’s helmet colours of yellow with blue and green stripes as they gathered around a memorial at the Tamburello corner where he died.

The Brazilian and Austrian flags were laid out in memory of Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, who was killed in a crash in qualifying one day earlier.

Four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, who retired from F1 in 2022, organized the memorial event with the Senna Foundation and will drive the Brazilian great’s 1993 McLaren car in a demonstration during the race weekend.

Vettel: Roland Ratzenberger must not be forgotten

Vettel: Roland Ratzenberger also died in an accident, this must not be forgotten imola 1994 30 years tribute senna

Always respectful and mindful of F1’s history, Vettel said on the poignant occasion: “I was only seven years old when the accident happened. Through my father I learned what a great driver Ayrton Senna was. He was a big fan of Ayrton and gave me a Senna doll and a small Senna toy car.

“What I particularly appreciated about him later was that he was not only one of the best racing drivers of all time, but that he also showed compassion and support for the often difficult social problems and poverty in his home country of Brazil,” recalled Vettel.

The triple F1 World Champion, also reminded all of Ratzenberger who died a day earlier during that fateful 1994 San Marino Grand Prix weekend at Imola: “Ayrton stands for so much more than his racing achievements in a car. Roland Ratzenberger also died in an accident, this must not be forgotten. They were two special people.”

Ahead of the Imola weekend, Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna told GRANDPRIX247 correspondent, Nasir Hameed: “It’s amazing that 30 years on after he passed, he passed, it’s he’s still so present with us. And for us. It means that the fans, the people that watched him, they had such a strong connection with him that they passed it on to their kids and their grandkids even.” (Report by James Ellingworth; Additional Reporting by Agnes Carlier)

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