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What if Ayrton Senna HADN'T been killed in the 1994 San Marino GP?


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#1 Eff One 2002

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 03:27

Do you ever think about this? I ponder it from time to time. I wonder how different the 2012 F1 World Championship would be right here and now if a big name like Ayrton Senna hadn't been tragically killed at that race meeting and only poor Roland Ratzenberger had lost his life.

Personally I think that there still would have been massive improvements in safety in F1 in 2012 than there were in F1 1994 of course. Things would have been done to make things safer, no question and the sport would have still very much been in the spotlight after its first fatality in an F1 car since 1986 with Elio de Angelis but I think in no way would we have seen some of the knee-jerk over-reactions we saw immediately put into place: The makeshift chicane at Barcelona and the other two chicanes installed at Montreal and at Eau Rouge at Spa for example and the over-obsession of safety above all else that followed the years after with the butchering of circuits and the removal of challenging corners that once "seperated the men from the boys" and the massive run off areas big enough to land a plane in that are now commonplace with many of today's circuits that Martin Brundle often complains about.

What does eveybody think? How different would the sport be today?

Edited by Eff One 2002, 12 September 2012 - 03:28.


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#2 Dan333SP

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 03:55

Maybe the temporary chicanes wouldn't have been installed, but don't kid yourself, the sport would have pushed hard towards ever-increasing safety standards for both the circuits and the cars themselves. Maybe someone else would have been badly injured or killed in the following few years, maybe not, but I think that the concern over driver safety wouldn't have been significantly less without Senna's death.

#3 akshay380

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 04:55

Also Schumacher wouldnt have got that penalty in British GP.

Also completely OT but wish we could see something like this on that fateful day. 1st May 1994.

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#4 Little Leaf

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 05:09

Do you ever think about this? I ponder it from time to time. I wonder how different the 2012 F1 World Championship would be right here and now if a big name like Ayrton Senna hadn't been tragically killed at that race meeting and only poor Roland Ratzenberger had lost his life.

Personally I think that there still would have been massive improvements in safety in F1 in 2012 than there were in F1 1994 of course. Things would have been done to make things safer, no question and the sport would have still very much been in the spotlight after its first fatality in an F1 car since 1986 with Elio de Angelis but I think in no way would we have seen some of the knee-jerk over-reactions we saw immediately put into place: The makeshift chicane at Barcelona and the other two chicanes installed at Montreal and at Eau Rouge at Spa for example and the over-obsession of safety above all else that followed the years after with the butchering of circuits and the removal of challenging corners that once "seperated the men from the boys" and the massive run off areas big enough to land a plane in that are now commonplace with many of today's circuits that Martin Brundle often complains about.

What does eveybody think? How different would the sport be today?


Not to be Mr Picky or anything but the first fatality in an F1 car was surely a day before Senna's crash with Roland

#5 Chubby_Deuce

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 05:11

That's not picky, people completely forget when the Senna fapfest starts.

#6 Jimisgod

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 05:34

5 or 6 times World champion. Would have most likely overhauled Schumacher in 1994 - very definitely if the cheating by Benetton was revealed, but that was all Flavio (Flavio cheating? Never!) - not Schumacher. Probably would have had the mother of all battles in 1995, but I think Schumacher was too tight in his car that year. 1996 and 1997 would have been a walk in the park, and by then he would probably feel like quitting having passed his nemisis Prost in WDC.

If it could win with JV, Williams would have been a WCC team by virtue of his input and team building skills (lack of unity at Williams killed it after 1997, especially after Newey left) and that may have lasted into the early 2000s when BMW came on board. Williams would have secured better drivers than Ralf and 'Schumacher the Greater' may have had fewer titles as the BMW was by far the best engine to have in 2001 and 2003. Hence, had Senna stayed on, the Williams slump may never have been as bad, but I can't see Senna staying any longer than 1997 at the very most. Actually, Kimi or Mika or even MSC may have wound up at Williams instead.

MSC and Ferrari won 5 titles largely by virtue of the competition being pretty incompetent - had there been a strong Williams team, that may not have been the case. D. hill may have stayed as a loyal #2 until his chance in 1998, who knows?

1994 - MSC or Senna
1995 - MSC
1996 - Senna
1997 - Senna (retire at end)
1998 - Mika H. or whoever replaced Senna at Williams
1999 - Mika H. or MSC or Williams driver
2000 - MSC
2001 - MSC or Williams driver
2002 - MSC
2003 - MSC or Williams driver

Williams were more than a bit crazy, perhaps they would offer him the door in 1996 after he won then and he could have driven for the Scuderia in 1997? :drunk: Senna / Schumacher in a Ferrari?

Edited by Jimisgod, 12 September 2012 - 05:37.


#7 HPT

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 05:58

Also Schumacher wouldnt have got that penalty in British GP.

Also completely OT but wish we could see something like this on that fateful day. 1st May 1994.

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Wow...

This is a poignant picture. What might have been...just wow...

#8 ClubmanGT

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:06

I would say Senna would have ended up at Ferrari, but Schumacher would have been there as well. Schumacher's 96 and 97 seasons were in many ways what you might have expected from Senna so it's believable enough.

#9 forixfan

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:17

5 or 6 times World champion. Would have most likely overhauled Schumacher in 1994 - very definitely if the cheating by Benetton was revealed, but that was all Flavio (Flavio cheating? Never!) - not Schumacher. Probably would have had the mother of all battles in 1995, but I think Schumacher was too tight in his car that year. 1996 and 1997 would have been a walk in the park, and by then he would probably feel like quitting having passed his nemisis Prost in WDC.



Senna would won the 1995 title easy, the Williams was far superior, the problem was Michael was far superior to the Williams drivers. It would have been hard to win the 1994 title, 30 points down, it would have depended on how quickly Newey fixed the car, and he would have won the 96/97 titles even easier. I doubt Michael would have gone to Ferrari in 1996 as well because he only went there for a new challenge after winning two titles for Benetton and getting bored of whooping Hill.

Edited by forixfan, 12 September 2012 - 06:18.


#10 Cesc

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:38

Senna would won the 1995 title easy, the Williams was far superior, the problem was Michael was far superior to the Williams drivers. It would have been hard to win the 1994 title, 30 points down, it would have depended on how quickly Newey fixed the car, and he would have won the 96/97 titles even easier. I doubt Michael would have gone to Ferrari in 1996 as well because he only went there for a new challenge after winning two titles for Benetton and getting bored of whooping Hill.


The Benetton-Renault in 1995 was much more strong than the Benetton-Ford in 1994. I don't think it would have been that easy at all. I agree with the 96 and 97, he would have won, at least the 96 one.

#11 forixfan

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 06:44

The Benetton-Renault in 1995 was much more strong than the Benetton-Ford in 1994. I don't think it would have been that easy at all. I agree with the 96 and 97, he would have won, at least the 96 one.


In 1994, Schumacher won 6 out of the first 7 races, and regularly thrashed Hill. In 1995 they were usually closely matched in races, which means Senna would have dominated the season.

#12 KnucklesAgain

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 07:03

Senna would won the 1995 title easy, the Williams was far superior, the problem was Michael was far superior to the Williams drivers. It would have been hard to win the 1994 title, 30 points down, it would have depended on how quickly Newey fixed the car, and he would have won the 96/97 titles even easier. I doubt Michael would have gone to Ferrari in 1996 as well because he only went there for a new challenge after winning two titles for Benetton and getting bored of whooping Hill.


Not if the Williams pit work had f*cked him over the same way it did Hill. Watch that season again - Hill is a tragedy, but Benetton is schooling Williams on pit strategy whenever it mattered, and Williams lost as many races due to bad strategy as it did due to Hill's driving.

Edited by KnucklesAgain, 12 September 2012 - 07:06.


#13 forixfan

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 07:10

Not if the Williams pit work had f*cked him over the same way it did Hill. Watch that season again - Hill is a tragedy, but Benetton is schooling Williams on pit strategy whenever it mattered, and Williams lost as many races due to bad strategy as it did due to Hill's driving.


Any specific examples? All I remember is Hill and coulthard crashing or spinning off all the time. When they kept it on the track they were as quick as Michael and quicker in qualifying.

#14 Kingshark

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 07:55

I expect people to disagree, but in my opinion in 1994 the honor of best driver on the current grid was being passed on from Senna to Schumacher, just as it was passed on from Schumacher to Alonso in 2006.

It probably would've gone like this;

94 - Schumacher
He was already 30 points up and I doubt he'd be excluded from the British GP had Senna survived.
95 - Schumacher, just.
96 - Senna
97 - Senna

#15 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:00

Also Schumacher wouldnt have got that penalty in British GP.

Also completely OT but wish we could see something like this on that fateful day. 1st May 1994.

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Unfortunately it's the car that needed photoshopping, no one would have climbed out of it :cry:

#16 Andrew Hope

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:02

What would have happened had Senna lived? More people would remember this guy:

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#17 as65p

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:04

It was always going to end up like it does, but anyway I'd like to make a vain attempt of throwing in a remidner that the OP talks about the effects of Sennas accident on track and car safety.

#18 as65p

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:06

What would have happened had Senna lived? More people would remember this guy:


Unlikely. I dare say more people know Ratzenbergers name than that of Riccardo Paletti.

#19 aray

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:12

we would have seen a team called Senna Racing in F1...run by uncle Senna,rode by nephew.. ;)


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#20 as65p

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:14

we would have seen a team called Senna Racing in F1...run by uncle Senna,rode by nephew..;)


Well, at least Ayrton has been spared that pain.

#21 PayasYouRace

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:14

Unfortunately it's the car that needed photoshopping, no one would have climbed out of it :cry:


I don't agree. If it wasn't for an unfortunate bit of suspension, he would have walked away.

I don't think it would have had much effect on the cars though. The raised cockpit sides would probably have come in sooner or later, especially in the context of Wendlinger's accident at Monaco. Hakkinen's Adelaide accident the following year would also have got the FIA looking hard at safety. If we don't also remove these accidents then the safety aspects of F1 wouldn't look too different.

I don't think 2012 would look very different. The remainder of the 90s probably would have been a slower transition to what we ended up with. I think the knee-jerk modifications such as the temporary chicanes wouldn't have been implemented (and that includes Abbey at Silverstone and the Gancho at Estoril). However, most of the knee-jerk changes were undone by the end of the decade.

- Eau Rouge was restored in 1995.
- The esses and their associated chicane at Montreal were removed in 1996.
- Many of the Silverstone changes (Copse, Stowe, Priory) were undone in 1996/7.

#22 Tenmantaylor

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:25

I don't agree. If it wasn't for an unfortunate bit of suspension, he would have walked away.


You completely misunderstood. Whoever it was that was in that car in that accident would have suffered the same fate. If it was a modern car he probably would have been fine. But then the cockpits of modern cars only existed because of this accident so is a moot point.

It's a shame that safety is only top of the agenda in the weeks and months after tragedy but unfortunately it's how we learn; through pain. It's the same as a toddler learning not to touch the radiator. We have had enough near misses with drivers nearly being decapitated (Alonso Spa, Wurz Melbourne) in recent months and years but I believe it will take another fatality to cause further change in F1 unfortunately. It's only a matter of time.

Edited by Tenmantaylor, 12 September 2012 - 08:32.


#23 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 08:47

Unfortunately it's the car that needed photoshopping, no one would have climbed out of it :cry:

As has been said, accident itself was survivable, if a piece of the suspension hadn't flown up at the perfect angle to pierce Senna's crash helmet in he would have survived. IIRC Sid Watkins said there wasn't a bruise or broken bone in his body.

#24 marcm

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 09:41

Well, at least Ayrton has been spared that pain.


But imagine how much better and more experienced Bruno would have been if Ayrton hadn't died.
His parents stopped him karting/racing after Ayrtons death and he only started again at 22yrs old. He missed out on 10 years worth of racing experience compared to his peers.

It's a big what if, but considering he is capable F1 driver now (albeit not setting the world alight) it could have even been Bruno entering F1 in 2007 as the next big thing.
Who knows - maybe he would even have taken the Mclaren seat instead of Hamilton!



#25 PayasYouRace

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 09:41

You completely misunderstood. Whoever it was that was in that car in that accident would have suffered the same fate. If it was a modern car he probably would have been fine. But then the cockpits of modern cars only existed because of this accident so is a moot point.

It's a shame that safety is only top of the agenda in the weeks and months after tragedy but unfortunately it's how we learn; through pain. It's the same as a toddler learning not to touch the radiator. We have had enough near misses with drivers nearly being decapitated (Alonso Spa, Wurz Melbourne) in recent months and years but I believe it will take another fatality to cause further change in F1 unfortunately. It's only a matter of time.


No I think I understood you fine. I think Ayrton was extremely unlucky. I'm sure you could have had that accident 10 times in the same car at the same place, and walked away from 9 of them.

And Alonso was no where near being decapitated at Spa. Could he have recieved a nasty, possibly fatal, blow to the head? Possibly. But to go from there to decapitation is needless hyperbole.

#26 Tsarwash

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 09:41

Not to be Mr Picky or anything but the first fatality in an F1 car was surely a day before Senna's crash with Roland

At the risk of being even pickier, the OP mentioned poor Roland, and didn't say that Senna's death was the first in fifteen years that the sport had had.


#27 1Devil1

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 09:58

Schumacher would have less championships but people would give him more respect because of a hard fight with Senna. I hardly can imagine Senna collecting every title from 1994 - 1997. Benetton and Michael were too strong for a Senna domination

#28 HP

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 10:22

Another scenario might have been, considering the pre race premonition from Senna, he'd retired at the end of that season had he survived.

Let's not forget that he was concerned about Ratzenberger's death and about Barrichello's big shunt. The inevitable question: is it still worth the risk, would have popped up for him too. Was it worth to put everything on the line again, to figth a younger upstart? He just put the feud with Prost behind him.

On skill and car however, my guess would be 94-95 MSC, 96-97 Senna.

#29 Tarzaan

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 10:47

5 or 6 times World champion. Would have most likely overhauled Schumacher in 1994 - very definitely if the cheating by Benetton was revealed, but that was all Flavio (Flavio cheating? Never!) - not Schumacher. Probably would have had the mother of all battles in 1995, but I think Schumacher was too tight in his car that year. 1996 and 1997 would have been a walk in the park, and by then he would probably feel like quitting having passed his nemisis Prost in WDC.

If it could win with JV, Williams would have been a WCC team by virtue of his input and team building skills (lack of unity at Williams killed it after 1997, especially after Newey left) and that may have lasted into the early 2000s when BMW came on board. Williams would have secured better drivers than Ralf and 'Schumacher the Greater' may have had fewer titles as the BMW was by far the best engine to have in 2001 and 2003. Hence, had Senna stayed on, the Williams slump may never have been as bad, but I can't see Senna staying any longer than 1997 at the very most. Actually, Kimi or Mika or even MSC may have wound up at Williams instead.

MSC and Ferrari won 5 titles largely by virtue of the competition being pretty incompetent - had there been a strong Williams team, that may not have been the case. D. hill may have stayed as a loyal #2 until his chance in 1998, who knows?

1994 - MSC or Senna
1995 - MSC
1996 - Senna
1997 - Senna (retire at end)
1998 - Mika H. or whoever replaced Senna at Williams
1999 - Mika H. or MSC or Williams driver
2000 - MSC
2001 - MSC or Williams driver
2002 - MSC
2003 - MSC or Williams driver

Williams were more than a bit crazy, perhaps they would offer him the door in 1996 after he won then and he could have driven for the Scuderia in 1997? :drunk: Senna / Schumacher in a Ferrari?


Imho If he survive the accident without major injury, he couldn't win the 94/95 titles. In 94 there was some major rule changes after Imola which help the Williams. Without his death IMHO these wasn't happend and MS still should have 60 point lead + as smbdy wrote the ridiculous penalties also won't happen.

IMHO MS could win 94 & 96.

I think Frank Williams didn't keep him after two lost title + Senna said some times he want to go to Ferrari before his retirement. The should happen in 96/97, but that would be a Ferrari team without Brawn or Byrne.

MS could stay in the Benetton-Renault with Brawn & Byrne (2 possible WDC), and after go to the Ferrari or McLaren-Mercedes.

PS: sorry for my english.







#30 1Devil1

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 10:51

Imho If he survive the accident without major injury, he couldn't win the 94/95 titles. In 94 there was some major rule changes after Imola which help the Williams. Without his death IMHO these wasn't happend and MS still should have 60 point lead + as smbdy wrote the ridiculous penalties also won't happen.

IMHO MS could win 94 & 96.

I think Frank Williams didn't keep him after two lost title + Senna said some times he want to go to Ferrari before his retirement. The should happen in 96/97, but that would be a Ferrari team without Brawn or Byrne.

MS could stay in the Benetton-Renault with Brawn & Byrne (2 possible WDC), and after go to the Ferrari or McLaren-Mercedes.

PS: sorry for my english.


In the end everything could have happened - nobody knows! ;) The only thing for sure, we sadly have lost the opportunity to see one of the greatest fights in history

#31 Buttoneer

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 10:55

A reminder of the topic under discussion;

Do you ever think about this? I ponder it from time to time. I wonder how different the 2012 F1 World Championship would be right here and now if a big name like Ayrton Senna hadn't been tragically killed at that race meeting and only poor Roland Ratzenberger had lost his life.

Personally I think that there still would have been massive improvements in safety in F1 in 2012 than there were in F1 1994 of course. Things would have been done to make things safer, no question and the sport would have still very much been in the spotlight after its first fatality in an F1 car since 1986 with Elio de Angelis but I think in no way would we have seen some of the knee-jerk over-reactions we saw immediately put into place: The makeshift chicane at Barcelona and the other two chicanes installed at Montreal and at Eau Rouge at Spa for example and the over-obsession of safety above all else that followed the years after with the butchering of circuits and the removal of challenging corners that once "seperated the men from the boys" and the massive run off areas big enough to land a plane in that are now commonplace with many of today's circuits that Martin Brundle often complains about.

What does eveybody think? How different would the sport be today?

It is not about who migth have had championships instead, or battles we have missed. It is about whether F1 might have changed as much as it has since that time in terms of track layout, safety and possibly the related technology.


#32 1george

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:06

Another scenario might have been, considering the pre race premonition from Senna, he'd retired at the end of that season had he survived.

Let's not forget that he was concerned about Ratzenberger's death and about Barrichello's big shunt. The inevitable question: is it still worth the risk, would have popped up for him too. Was it worth to put everything on the line again, to figth a younger upstart? He just put the feud with Prost behind him.

On skill and car however, my guess would be 94-95 MSC, 96-97 Senna.

Mind too (if I remember well) that Senna signed a three years contract with Williams. Retire at the end of 94 and pay back the two remaining years would have been a considerable amount of money.

Dunno if he would have won the always controversial 94 WDC, Schumacher and Benetton-Reanult looked very strong for 1995 and seems that Senna would won the 96 WDC.

He (supposedly) told once that he liked to end his career at Ferrari, drive for them at least one season, to be the first Brazilian winner for Ferrari. Given the facts looks quite improbable, I don’t think that he would have signed for them, having Schumacher as team-mate or maybe yes but Ferrari would asked to sign for three years. Maybe he would have negotiated with Ferrari in 1995. We’ll never know.

Looks like he would have retired at the end of 1996. Having 36 years old, Senna didn’t look like the kind of driver to stay in F1 until the fourties.

Back to the topic, I don’t think that track layouts, safety and the related technology would have been too different. No significant changes.


#33 Spillage

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:17

Whilst I wouldn't say that Senna's death was good for the sport, I think a lot of positives did come out of it - it someone of Senna's profile to really shake the sport to its core and increase the drive towards safety. If Senna was still alive, I suspect F1 would've moved on pretty quickly after Imola's death and continued to accept one fatality every 6 years or so as a part of the sport. So in many ways Senna's death saved the lives of several drivers since then; who'd have thought in 1994 that in just 13 years a driver would be able to survive an accident like Kubica's in Montreal and be able to drive just 3 weeks later?

#34 seahawk

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:28

The basic direction would have remainded the same. More safety is the correct way of thinking and every serious accident would mean a step in that direction. It was the time safety became a huge topic with road cars, F1 would not have been able to avoid it.

#35 Risil

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:32

As has been said, accident itself was survivable, if a piece of the suspension hadn't flown up at the perfect angle to pierce Senna's crash helmet in he would have survived. IIRC Sid Watkins said there wasn't a bruise or broken bone in his body.


Yep. Taken in isolation, Senna's accident was an argument for closed cockpits, or at the very least carbon fibre suspension parts. But that would ignore Ratzenberger's fatal accident, as well as near-misses for Barrichello on the Friday, and Wendlinger a few weeks later. Mosley undoubtedly saw this, making sure everyone knew he was attending the Simtek driver's funeral and not just focusing on Senna, and not allowing the safety reforms solely to concentrate on "preventing another Senna". In other words, he was too fine a politician to waste a good crisis. Had Felipe Massa died at the Hungaroring in 2009, we'd probably be criticising his reforms for not going far enough, in spite of obvious warning signs.

There's an amazing bit on the tape of the BBC broadcast of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, when the cars are on the grid before the start of the race, and they're discussing how the show's going on despite Ratzenberger's death on Saturday. Jonathan Palmer feels like he's summing up the mood of the F1 paddock when he says words to the effect of "the Imola circuit is not considered to be particularly dangerous". Half an hour later the statement would be almost unthinkable, though the events that truly demonstrated its complacency had already happened.

#36 BRG

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:39

The basic direction would have remainded the same. More safety is the correct way of thinking and every serious accident would mean a step in that direction. It was the time safety became a huge topic with road cars, F1 would not have been able to avoid it.

I agree. Poor Roland's death would not have had the same effect as losing Senna as well. There would not have been a rash of Ratzenberger chicanes and curves as the sport would have just shrugged off his loss. Brutal, I know, but I think it is the case. Nevertheless, the timeline would have gradually reverted and we would have the same concerns for safety today. It might perhaps have taken another death or two but I doubt if F1 - and motorsport in general - today would be much different.



#37 Risil

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:39

The basic direction would have remainded the same. More safety is the correct way of thinking and every serious accident would mean a step in that direction. It was the time safety became a huge topic with road cars, F1 would not have been able to avoid it.


I don't believe safety in racing cars improved a great deal during and immediately after Ralph Nader's activism in the US in the 1960s. And motorcycle road racing demonstrates that modern racegoers are not intrinsically danger-averse. The Northwest 200 and the TT get huge attendances and nationwide TV coverage, so you can't say they take place in a ghetto of public unawareness. They never show the fatalities, though.

#38 Spillage

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:44

The basic direction would have remainded the same. More safety is the correct way of thinking and every serious accident would mean a step in that direction. It was the time safety became a huge topic with road cars, F1 would not have been able to avoid it.

I agree, but I think that it was Senna who died is the reason nobody has been killed in F1 since. When Senna's death was announced on the BBC, Murray Walker said that such things had happened before in F1, and would happen again - nobody believed that we would never see another fatality in F1. So without Senna's death, I think we'd have had a similar progression to that seen in Indycars; once every six years or so, a driver is killed and whilst everyone agrees it is a tragedy I think the general consensus is to shrug and say 'that's motor-racing.' Perhaps it would have been different if an Andretti or Fittipaldi had been killed.

#39 Risil

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 11:54

Which fatal Indycar accidents are you referring to?

Edited by Risil, 12 September 2012 - 11:55.


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#40 ForzaGTR

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:01

Also Schumacher wouldnt have got that penalty in British GP.

Also completely OT but wish we could see something like this on that fateful day. 1st May 1994.

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#41 HP

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:03

Whilst I wouldn't say that Senna's death was good for the sport, I think a lot of positives did come out of it - it someone of Senna's profile to really shake the sport to its core and increase the drive towards safety. If Senna was still alive, I suspect F1 would've moved on pretty quickly after Imola's death and continued to accept one fatality every 6 years or so as a part of the sport. So in many ways Senna's death saved the lives of several drivers since then; who'd have thought in 1994 that in just 13 years a driver would be able to survive an accident like Kubica's in Montreal and be able to drive just 3 weeks later?

F1 doesn't live in it's in own bubble. So IMO safety standard's would have improved anyway to where they are these days. Improvement in other motor sports, F1 itself, and then public expectations and even more so insurance companies and politics would have seen to that. Not even to mention BE's need to sell the TV rights.

What we would not have seen IMO is the knee jerk reactions back then. Introduction of chicanes, with their own unique safety issues, and of course grooved tires would never have been introduced. It's probably circumstantial, but another shift happened around that time, on the ever increasing reliance on aerodynamic vs. lesser mechanical downforce. After all the main issue tackled was reducing cornering speeds.

What bothers me however, that still there need to be those shunts of some of the greatest until the establishment wakes up. Happened in NASCAR with Dale Earnhardt Sr., on a less scale last year with IndyCar. It seems to me this is an ongoing balance act of evaluating dangers involved vs. calculated risk and what is doable. One example where things regulated itself, albeit in a very bad way was Indy 2005. Michelin pushed the limits too far. True to Max Mosley's way of doing things, tires came under direct control of the FIA, with all the pro's and con's of it. If the regulation body steps in, it seems that the result always looks a bit knee-jerk like. But since the SM GP 94 and even before that I haven't seen many teams overly concerned with safety issues. It's understandable since they are the ones that compete.

But I do believe F1 could have avoided a lot of upheaval, and unpleasantries, if teams would take safety a bit more serious. Maybe a simple question to the team bosses or head engineers (and track owners) would suffice: What was your last significant contribution to improve the sports safety?

Ironically, and some food for thought: Some of the best features (like the tube, better brakes) actually were invented by teams to be more competitive. I'd say if teams are more conscious about how this works, F1 would look much better in terms of competition these days, were a lot is regulated by even more rules. The main reason IMO is because FIA, instead of teams bear responsibility to improve the sports safety.


#42 Jejking

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:06

Another scenario might have been, considering the pre race premonition from Senna, he'd retired at the end of that season had he survived.

Let's not forget that he was concerned about Ratzenberger's death and about Barrichello's big shunt. The inevitable question: is it still worth the risk, would have popped up for him too. Was it worth to put everything on the line again, to figth a younger upstart? He just put the feud with Prost behind him.

On skill and car however, my guess would be 94-95 MSC, 96-97 Senna.

Good point, except he was already in F1 when the last fatality and some major crashes happened. He put himself beyond that and he also refused to give in when Sir Sid Watkins asked him to step away from the sport temporarily. But at the end of the season.. you might have a point there.

Also: Senna wanted to go to Ferrari one day. He had almost signed for Ferrari but he was blocked out because of Prost, iirc.

Interesting stuff about the seasons and their developments:
Schumacher would have tried anything to assert his dominance over Senna, just like he did with Hill. Silverstone would have happened probably and if everything else would have gone like normal, the title would have been his.

Taking into account that Hill was a good driver but not extreme, I recalculated 1995 to see what would have happened. My conclusions are, based on that Senna would have been faster than Hill in Q and slightly on raceday where Hill was a very reasonable driver:

Senna in Hills car would have experienced the same loss of points (13-17) as Damon on the technical side of things. Hill made a lot of mistakes that year, costing him 3 wins, 1 P2 and 2 third places. Crashing out, spinning, etc. Circumstancial stuff like the backmarker causing the crash between Hill and Schumacher added another 8 points. I'd like to say that I wouldn't automatically assume Senna would beat the crap out of Schumacher when the German was ahead on track, Schumacher and Brawn had a really good season in 1995. At the end of the season Hill was 33 points behind and I think that together with his status and the mental side of things it's quite likely that Senna and Williams would have won the WDC in 1995 as well, based on car performance and the natural abilities of the driver in the wet.

1996 is out of the question and 1997 Schumacher (compared to Villeneuve) for me was the winner, he had more mech failures compared to the Williams and was consistently scoring the points, like Alonso is doing now. But having Senna behind the wheel would have made less risky choices and would have been far more consistent, not always that fast as a young Villeneuve anymore but still a formidable opponent just like Schumacher still is today.

Another theory, I think Senna would have quit after 1997. Why? He came from the age of slicks. It could have been another factor with the introduction of the grooved tyre (together with age, pressure, nature's call and more) to announce his retirement. It's certain for me: Senna would have had (deserved) much more success because he was that good. And that comes from a hardcore Schumacher fan.

Edited by Jejking, 12 September 2012 - 12:07.


#43 schubacca

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:07

5 or 6 times World champion. Would have most likely overhauled Schumacher in 1994 - very definitely if the cheating by Benetton was revealed, but that was all Flavio (Flavio cheating? Never!) - not Schumacher. Probably would have had the mother of all battles in 1995, but I think Schumacher was too tight in his car that year. 1996 and 1997 would have been a walk in the park, and by then he would probably feel like quitting having passed his nemisis Prost in WDC.

If it could win with JV, Williams would have been a WCC team by virtue of his input and team building skills (lack of unity at Williams killed it after 1997, especially after Newey left) and that may have lasted into the early 2000s when BMW came on board. Williams would have secured better drivers than Ralf and 'Schumacher the Greater' may have had fewer titles as the BMW was by far the best engine to have in 2001 and 2003. Hence, had Senna stayed on, the Williams slump may never have been as bad, but I can't see Senna staying any longer than 1997 at the very most. Actually, Kimi or Mika or even MSC may have wound up at Williams instead.

MSC and Ferrari won 5 titles largely by virtue of the competition being pretty incompetent - had there been a strong Williams team, that may not have been the case. D. hill may have stayed as a loyal #2 until his chance in 1998, who knows?

1994 - MSC or Senna
1995 - MSC
1996 - Senna
1997 - Senna (retire at end)
1998 - Mika H. or whoever replaced Senna at Williams
1999 - Mika H. or MSC or Williams driver
2000 - MSC
2001 - MSC or Williams driver
2002 - MSC
2003 - MSC or Williams driver

Williams were more than a bit crazy, perhaps they would offer him the door in 1996 after he won then and he could have driven for the Scuderia in 1997? :drunk: Senna / Schumacher in a Ferrari?


Ahhhhhhh, and here it is.... MS winning titles by default, rather than hard work and talent. MS would have shown Senna up with MS in his prime and Senna in a descent. Youth must be served.

If Senna lived, he would not be venerated as he is today.



#44 Risil

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:13

Better reliability and carbon fibre construction spring to mind as two performance-related developments which improved driver safety. Things like wheel tethers, HANS devices and the inevitable closed cockpits could only have been accomplished with significant amounts of testing from race teams.

#45 Jejking

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:20

Oh BOY did I miss the subject. Sorry guys :)

Senna wasn't a Stewart, I don't think he would have gone the same route but he had the power to raise his voice and be listened to. I think the death of Ratzenberger would have been enough, combined with Senna's voice, to still drastically improve on safety but in a slower way. Senna's death rushed everybody to the scene pointing wildly at who was responsible and what could have been done / will be done to prevent further loss of talent. But if you look at the introduction of HANS in 2003, that wouldn't have been developped quicker or something, I really don't think that. But the witch hunt for safety as it is now, I don't think that would have happened as well. Gravel traps are likely to be more in place today.

#46 pdac

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 12:29

I don't think it was Sennas death in isolation that accelerated the move towards a safer F1. It was the combination of Senna and Ratzenberger on the same weekend that was the turning point. If it were just Senna or just Ratzenberger, then I think we'd have seen more fatalities in the years since.

#47 schubacca

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 13:07

Dont forget Ratzenberger.

Senna didn't.....

#48 Spillage

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 13:27

Which fatal Indycar accidents are you referring to?

Brayton, Renna, Dana and Wheldon, basically, none of which seem to have inspired/be inspiring the similar kind of rapid prioritisation of safety that Senna's death did. That kind of safety-driven hysteria was good for F1 and has saved several lives, IMO

Edited by Spillage, 12 September 2012 - 13:37.


#49 Tsarwash

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 13:33

Which fatal Indycar accidents are you referring to?

Four driver fatalities in Indycar and five driver fatalities in Champcar in the last twenty years.


#50 Tsarwash

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Posted 12 September 2012 - 13:47

It wasn't just Ratzenburger and Senna's death, it was the Barrichello and Wendinger incidents as well which made the drivers and the FIA take action on safety.