Skip to content

Vettel: F1 “still not completely safe” 20 years after Senna’s death

Apr 28, 2014, 12:23 PM EDT

Handwritten notes left by fans are pictured on a fence at the site where Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna died at the race track in Imola Reuters

As Formula One and the racing world prepares to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of legendary driver Ayrton Senna, its reigning World Champion, Sebastian Vettel, has noted that while F1 has made increased safety advances since the tragedy, the sport is still not immune to another disaster.

Senna lost his life in a crash at the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1, 1994, and he remains the last driver to die in an F1 Grand Prix. A day earlier, Austrian competitor Roland Ratzenberger had been killed at Imola in a wreck during qualifying for the race.

Since that dark weekend, F1 and the sport itself has undergone a safety revolution that continues to this day. Stronger chassis, wheel tethers, bigger runoff areas at tracks, and head and neck restraints are now the norm.

But even with all of that progress – and all of the progress to come in the future – the danger remains.

“Formula One is safer today but it is still not completely safe because there is still so much that can happen,” Vettel said according to a report from Australian news agency AAP. “…Unfortunately, it always took accidents and negative events for us to learn the most.”

A series of commemorations for Senna and Ratzenberger are scheduled to take place over a five-day span at Imola this week. The Associated Press reports that following a memorial mass on Wednesday, an F1 safety symposium will be held the next day – the exact anniversary of Senna’s death.

Vettel has recalled that moment as an event “where you exactly remember where you’ve been [and] what you’ve done.”

“I remember that I was watching television with my father and obviously as a child, you don’t really understand what’s going on, but just by the reaction of my father, I obviously got to understand that it was very serious and a big loss for Formula One,” Vettel told the AP.

“I think only later on and probably the last couple years, I managed to understand how big the loss was for the sport because I got to work with people that used to know him, [and worked] with him. He was the reason why my father decided to follow Formula One.”

Latest Posts
  1. Vergne: Being kept by Toro Rosso win-win for everybody

    Oct 30, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia Getty Images

    Frenchman thinks he would be the best choice for Toro Rosso in 2015 alongside Max Verstappen.

  2. Perez close to new deal with Force India

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:12 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Great Britain Getty Images

    Sergio Perez closing on in contract extension with Force India.

  3. In just three years, why have Austin and COTA become favorites for F1?

    Oct 30, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    F1-US Grand Prix AP

    The F1 community loves coming to Austin and COTA, but why?

  4. Crew chief trade for Danica Patrick, Kurt Busch begins this weekend

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:56 PM EDT

    (Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images) (Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

    This weekend’s race at Texas will mark the official debut of Tony Gibson and Daniel Knost as crew chiefs for Kurt Busch and Danica Patrick, respectively. How will they and their drivers fare together?

  5. Successful COTA Forum in Austin proves the importance of fan engagement in F1

    Oct 30, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    F1 Fan Forum - Austin, TX Getty Images

    Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez and Esteban Gutierrez appear at the event in Austin ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.

  6. Get your calendars ready for conflicts: Here’s the IndyCar/sports car ones in 2015

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT

    Long-Beach-Lead Getty Images

    Get your calendars out and start marking up which series run where, when.

  7. Haas releases time-lapse video of F1 factory being built

    Oct 30, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Gene Haas Formula One Press Conference Getty Images

    The team’s planned entry to F1 in 2016 takes another step forwards as the factory is completed.

  8. Kevin Harvick to make 500th Sprint Cup start, seeks first Texas win

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:41 AM EDT

    (Photo courtesy Stewart-Haas Racing) (Photo courtesy Stewart-Haas Racing)

    Kevin Harvick makes his 500th career Sprint Cup start this Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

  9. 2015 IndyCar schedule officially revealed; 17 races including 12 on NBCSN (VIDEO)

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:29 AM EDT

    James Hinchcliffe AP

    IndyCar takes the wraps off its 2015 schedule, with 17 races and a heavy jockeying of dates in the second half.

  10. Bianchi remains “critical but stable” but continues to fight, says family

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:16 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Japan Getty Images

    The Bianchi family issues a new statement over three weeks on from Jules’ accident in Japan.

  11. MotorSportsTalk’s Predictions: United States GP

    Oct 30, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT

    Russia F1 Gp Auto Racing AP

    The MST writing team makes its picks ahead of the race in Austin, Texas.

  12. Has Formula 1 cracked the U.S. market in Austin?

    Oct 30, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Race Getty Images

    The difficulties faced by Formula 1 in the United States seem to be long gone, with a great home in Austin, Texas and a booming fan base. Has the problem child of a market finally been righted?

  13. Behind the scenes: Lewis Hamilton on TODAY (VIDEO)

    Oct 29, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of Russia - Practice Getty Images

    Behind the scenes of Lewis Hamilton’s day at the TODAY Show.

  14. John Force to debut much-anticipated 16X Funny Car this weekend in Las Vegas

    Oct 29, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT

    john force 16x car for las vegas 2014

    When it comes to this weekend’s Toyota NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, John Force is taking his effort to win his record-extending 17th Funny Car championship to a high power. As in 16X.

  15. NASCAR America video: Jeff Gordon hanging on edge

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:55 PM EDT

    (AP photo/Steve Helber) AP

    On Wednesday’s edition of NASCAR America, Kelli Stavast talked with Jeff Gordon about the difficulties of advancing to the final round of the Chase.

  16. NHRA Top Fuel veteran Bob Vandergriff Jr. to step aside at season’s end

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:51 PM EDT

    (AP Photo/The Topeka Capital Journal, Chris Neal) AP

    It was just a matter of time for NHRA Top Fuel drag racer Bob Vandergriff Jr., and now that time has come.

  17. Kyle Busch may not walk on water, but he sure can glide on it (video)

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:45 PM EDT

    kyle busch superboat

    With some of the things he says or does on the racetrack, Kyle Busch might seem like he’s all wet at times.

  18. IndyCar: Jack Hawksworth ready to go full-throttle for Foyt

    Oct 29, 2014, 6:30 PM EDT

    Jack Hawksworth AP

    Hawksworth: “We’re here to win, to give 120 percent.”

  19. Vettel and Ricciardo bring F1 to the streets of Austin (VIDEO)

    Oct 29, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of USA - Previews Getty Images

    Downtown Austin gets treated to the first big event of the F1 weekend.

  20. WATCH LIVE: NASCAR AMERICA covers critical Homestead test at 5 p.m. ET

    Oct 29, 2014, 4:54 PM EDT

    nascar america

    Coming up today: More on this week’s critical test at Homestead-Miami Speedway; an in-depth look at the Drive for Diversity program; Parker Kligerman shows you what it takes to be tops at Texas in the NBC Sports iRacing Simulator.

Video from NASCAR America

Jeff Gordon hanging on edge
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. M. Crafton (1267)
  2. D. Hamlin (1130)
  3. K. Harvick (1102)
  4. J. Logano (1023)
  5. T. Stewart (998)