1994 – Ratzenberger Death

 

Roland Ratzenberger (4 July 1960-30 April 1994)

The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was the darkest weekend that Formula 1 ever has experienced. During Saturday practice, Simtek’s Roland Ratzenberger was killed after ploughing into a concrete wall.

It was an accident that stunned the sport as it struggled to come to terms with its first competitive fatality since Riccardo Paletti twelve years previously, but was ultimately overshadowed by the death of three-times world champion Ayrton Senna the following day.

Ratzenberger, 33, was only at his third Grand Prix event when his front wing was damaged after riding the kerbs too hard at Aqua Minerale the previous lap. The subsequent lack of downforce meant the Austrian was helpless and he struck the wall on the approach to Villeneuve Curva.

The 190mph impact sent the Simtek car spinning and eerily ground to a halt several hundred yards down the hill in the middle of the track. It is thought Ratzenberger died instantly.

Ironically Ayrton Senna – one of many drivers – refused to take part in the rest of the qualifying session after the accident, when it resumed nearly 30 minutes later.

Ratzenberger’s death led to the re-formation of the Grand Prix Driver’s Association – led by Niki Lauda, Gerhard Berger, Michael Schumacher, Christian Fittipaldi and Senna.

For the new Simtek team it was a devastating blow from which they understandably never recovered. Ratzenberger’s team-mate, David Brabham, bravely chose to race on Sunday.

Andrea Montermini, Ratezenberger’s replacement inSpain(Simtek – like Williams – chose to race just one car inMonacoas a mark of respect) was lucky to walk away with just x after crashing on the pit straight.

Following Montermini’s brief drive for the team, Simtek propped up their second seat with drives from Jean-Marc Gounon, Domenico Schiattarella and the woeful Taki Inoue.

Ratzenberger was a somewhat of a journeyman who spent a lot his career driving in Asia but always harboured a dream to drive in Formula 1. Sadly it was short-lived. 

The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was the darkest weekend that Formula 1 ever has experienced. During Saturday practice, Simtek’s Roland Ratzenberger was killed after ploughing into a concrete wall.

It was an accident that stunned the sport as it struggled to come to terms with its first competitive fatality since Riccardo Paletti twelve years previously, but was ultimately overshadowed by the death of three-times world champion Ayrton Senna the following day.

Ratzenberger, 33, was only at his third Grand Prix event when his front wing was damaged after riding the kerbs too hard at Aqua Minerale the previous lap. The subsequent lack of downforce meant the Austrian was helpless and he struck the wall on the approach to Villeneuve Curva.

The 190mph impact sent the Simtek car spinning and eerily ground to a halt several hundred yards down the hill in the middle of the track. It is thought Ratzenberger died instantly.

Ironically Ayrton Senna – one of many drivers – refused to take part in the rest of the qualifying session after the accident, when it resumed nearly 30 minutes later.

Ratzenberger’s death led to the re-formation of the Grand Prix Driver’s Association – led by Niki Lauda, Gerhard Berger, Michael Schumacher, Christian Fittipaldi and Senna.

For the new Simtek team it was a devastating blow from which they understandably never recovered. Ratzenberger’s team-mate, David Brabham, bravely chose to race on Sunday.

Andrea Montermini, Ratezenberger’s replacement inSpain(Simtek – like Williams – chose to race just one car inMonacoas a mark of respect) was lucky to walk away with just x after crashing on the pit straight.

Following Montermini’s brief drive for the team, Simtek propped up their second seat with drives from Jean-Marc Gounon, Domenico Schiattarella and the woeful Taki Inoue.

Ratzenberger was a somewhat of a journeyman who spent a lot his career driving in Asia but always harboured a dream to drive in Formula 1. Sadly it was short-lived.

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