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Senna’s death ‘was predicted to end Formula One’

todayApril 30, 2024

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Senna’s death ‘was predicted to end Formula One’

Bernie Ecclestone has revealed he was told Ayrton Senna’s death in a Formula One race 30 years ago “would be the end of” the sport.

The former F1 boss said Max Mosley, then president of the sport’s governing body the FIA, made the prediction after the Brazilian driver died at the San Marino Grand Prix on 1 May 1994.

Senna, a three-time world champion and one of the biggest names in world sport, died instantly when his Williams car ran off the road at 190mph and hit a concrete wall on the seventh lap of the Imola circuit.

The 34-year-old was the second driver to die that weekend after Austrian Roland Ratzenberger crashed his Simtek car into a wall during qualifying.

Speaking on the eve of the 30th anniversary of Senna’s death, Ecclestone said: “Max Mosley said to me afterwards that he believed it would be the end of Formula One. I said, ‘I think you are wrong and we will have to see’.

“We hoped it wouldn’t cause what Max had suggested might happen, but it was just a disaster. It wasn’t a good weekend, and it seems to me a lot longer than 30 years. He was just so unlucky to die in that accident.”

EMBARGOED TO 0800 FRIDAY JANUARY 26 File photo dated 19/04/23 of former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone arrives at Southwark Crown Court, London. A more than half-billion pound tax settlement for former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone made him the second-biggest tax payer in the UK last year, the Sunday Times Tax List has suggested. Issue date: Friday January 26, 2024.

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Former Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone in 2023. Pic: PA

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Senna’s fellow Brazilian driver Rubens Barrichello also survived a sickening high-speed crash during practice, two days before Senna’s death, at the notoriously dangerous race track.

Ecclestone, who ran Formula One for four decades, said: “It was just a disastrous weekend.

“If you think about all the things that happened, with Roland crashing and never getting out of his car, and then Senna, I really don’t think it would be possible for it to happen again.”

The race restarted less than 40 minutes after Senna’s crash, with Michael Schumacher winning.

Former F1 driver Martin Brundle, who finished eighth, has since said he was “angry” that “we raced past a pool of Senna’s blood for 55 laps”.

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24OCT93 FILE PHOTO - Ayrton Senna of Brazil gestures to the crowd after winning the Suzuka Grand Prix in this file photo. The trial of Formula One team chief Frank Williams and five others accused of manslaughter over the death of three times world champion Ayrton Senna started February 20. The defendants, who include Williams' technical director Patrick Head and designer Adrian Newey, deny responsibility for the fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. SPORT MOTOR RACING TRIAL SENNA

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Senna celebrates winning the Japanese Grand Prix in 1993. Pic: Reuters

Ecclestone – who received a suspended prison sentence for fraud last year – said: “Should we have stopped the race? I don’t think so. It wouldn’t have helped him (Senna) in any way, shape or form.

“When these things happen, they all happen so quickly that you don’t really have that much time to think. Legally, it should have been stopped, because we now know he died at the circuit.

“But in the end, it came down to commercial problems, people who would have wanted refunds and all these sorts of things. And the other side of it, wasn’t really taken into consideration.

“But I hope we will never see something like that again, and I think today, with the way everything has improved with safety, thank God, the chances are so much smaller.”

The fifth round of this year’s F1 championship is at Miami this weekend, with the sport expected to pay tribute to Senna at the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix in Imola later in May.

A 2010 documentary titled Senna charted his rise to fame and his epic battle for F1 supremacy with Alain Prost.

Written by: Newsroom

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