Saturday 30th April 1994

Tomorrow most of the Formula One community will remember the death of Ayrton Senna.

I however want to take a moment to remember the other fatality during that Grand Prix weekend at Imola which happened on this day in 1994.

Austrian Roland Ratzenberger made his Formula One debut at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1994 with British racing team, Simtek who themselves were making their debut in the sport.

Ratzenberger was unable to qualify for the opening round of 1994 in Brazil. He fared better at the Pacific Grand Prix where he finished eleventh, albeit last and five laps down.

Prior to entering Formula One however, Ratzenberger spent time in sportscars, competing in seven rounds of the 1988 British Touring Car Championship where he claimed four in class podiums, of which one was a win at Thruxton Circuit.

Toyota 91C-V
Toyota 91C-V” by Iwao is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The following season he made his first of five appearances at Le Mans, although he failed to finish in 1989, 1990 and 1991 he would go on to finish 2nd in class in 1992 and win his class the following year in 1993 alongside Italian Mauro Martini and Japanese Naoki Nagasaka, driving a Toyota 93C-V.

In 1990, 1992 and 1993 Ratzenberger competed in Japanese Formula 3000 which is now known as Super Formula. His best result in the series was a win at Suzuka in 1992.

Although Ratzenberger didn’t have time to make his mark in Formula One as a driver, he has left a lasting legacy. A day after his death the drivers at the San Marino Grand Prix agreed to reform the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association to help push for better safety within the sport.

1994 San Marino Grand Prix
05 – Benetton B194 Ford, 1994 Grand Prix of San Marino” by alessio mazzocco is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

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