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Drivers attend tribute at Imola

NEWS STORY
01/05/2014

Drivers past and present were at Imola today to pay tribute to Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger twenty years after that infamous San Marino weekend.

Last night a mass was held in Imola and today, the first of four days of events in the town, the circuit was open to the public, as fans and racers alike paid tribute to the two men.

In the spring sunshine the drivers walked to the infamous Tamburello corner where Senna perished, a minute's silence held at 14:17, the exact moment of his accident.

"It's so emotional for us because it's a long time and still the love from the people is very alive," Senna's niece Paula told Reuters Television. "It seems like Ayrton is living inside people's hearts, so it's beautiful."

"I think we all agree that he was the best driver of all time," said Gerhard Berger, close friend and former teammate of Senna, who himself was lucky to escape a fiery accident at Tamburello in 1988. "Even if it's a sad moment, we're all very happy to be here and remember Ayrton."

"I can well remember the photos in the papers and seeing on the TV news the stories of the duels between the McLarens of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna," said Fernando Alonso. "He had the number one on his car and I raced karts thinking about him, of his yellow helmet that was always winning.

"I also competed in karting in Italy, working with someone who had been his mechanic when he raced in that category and so you can imagine how important that was for me. I had a poster of him up in my bedroom.

"The only positive thing to come out of the weekend that took Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger away from us was that, from then on, safety in Formula 1 improved significantly. In fact, we can say that inside our cars there is something of the legacy of Senna and Ratzenberger, because after that terrible 1994, nothing was ever the same again."

"I was very young," added Kimi Raikkonen. "I saw the accident on TV and what I remember most is that, the next day at school we talked about it.

"Senna was very important for Formula 1, as a driver and a person and his death led to a rapid acceleration in the process of increasing the level of safety in our sport. That has avoided other tragedies from occurring. Unfortunately however, one cannot change the past, neither for Ayrton nor for Roland Ratzenberger. The only thing we can do is remember this champion, whose exploits defined the history of Formula 1 for a long time."

Our picture shows: (left - right) Fernando Alonso, Pedro de la Rosa, Jarno Trulli, Ricardo Patrese, Luca Badoer, Pierluigi Martini, Emanuele Pirro, Andrea de Cesaris, Gerhard Berger, Ivan Capelli, Jules Bianchi and Kimi Raikkonen.

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