On This Day In F1 - Roland Ratzenberger Died At Imola

On This Day In F1 - Roland Ratzenberger Died At Imola

A look back at what happened on 30 April in Formula 1 history

1995 San Marino Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher made a rare error when he crashed out of the lead on slicks on a damp circuit just 11 laps into the race. That left Gerhard Berger in the lead for Ferrari, sending the home fans wild, but his challenge ended when he stalled during a pit stop. Damon Hill went on to take the win ahead of Jean Alesi, Berger, and David Coulthard. In his first race for McLaren, Nigel Mansell had been on course to score a couple of points, only to collide with Eddie Irvine and end up dropping to ninth.

2017 Russian Grand Prix
Valtteri Bottas claimed his first F1 victory after launching from third on the grid into the lead at the start and then resisting pressure from Sebastian Vettel’s Ferrari in the closing stages. Fernando Alonso’s McLaren-Honda woes continued - he’d already failed to finish the first three races but this time he didn’t even make the start as his car conked out on the warm-up lap.

(c) Daimler
(c) Daimler

News
A day after Rubens Barrichello had been hospitalised following a crash in practice for the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, 34-year-old Austrian Roland Ratzenberger was killed in an accident during qualifying. He’d damaged the front wing of his Simtek in an off-track excursion and as he approached the high-speed Villeneuve kink on the next lap, the wing failed, pitching him into the wall at enormous speed. He became the first F1 driver to die in an F1 car since Elio de Angelis in 1986, and the first to die at a race weekend since Riccardo Paletti in 1982.

Birthdays
Kurt Kuhnke (born 1910) was a motorcycle racer who turned to racing cars in later life. In 1963 he entered a Lotus in the German GP, but failed to qualify by a considerable margin.

Duncan Hamilton (born 1920) was a wild character who started five championship races in the early 1950s, with a best finish of seventh in the 1952 Dutch GP. Much of his success came in sportscar racing, however, and his win at the 1953 24 Hours of Le Mans has become a bit of an urban legend. The story goes that he’d spent much of the race drunk and was being given brandy during the pit stops, and also that at one point a bird had hit him in the face at high speed. The drunken part of that has never been confirmed, however, while the bird strike was believed to have hit the car’s windscreen, rather than Hamilton’s face.

Top image (c) Sgozzi/Creative Commons