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'Senna's death led to improved safety'

Friday 02-May-2014 07:02

Kimi Raikkonen says the drivers of today owe Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger a debt of gratitude as their deaths brought about much-improved safety.

20 years ago, Formula One suffered one of its darkest weekends when, at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, both Ratzenberger and Senna were killed in crashes.

Ratzenberger died in a qualifying accident while Senna suffered a high-speed crash while leading the Imola race.

On Thursday, F1 personalities joined thousands of fans at the Imola circuit to pay their respect to the duo.

Raikkonen was present and joined fans in walking down to the Tamburello corner where a short service was held.

Adding his thoughts, Raikkonen told the Ferrari website: "I was very young. 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."

Raikkonen's team-mate Fernando Alonso also confessed to being a fan, revealing that as a child he had a poster of Senna in his bedroom.

"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. He had the number 1 on his car and I raced karts thinking about him, of his yellow helmet that was always winning," said the Spaniard.

"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."

He added: "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 Raztzenberger, because after that terrible 1994, nothing was ever the same again."

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