The timing for me is particularly poigniant. I recently watched the film Senna on DVD which chartered the career of Bruno's legendary uncle, Ayrton Senna.
|Uncle Ayrton Senna with a young Bruno|
In places it reduced me to tears. Watching Martin Donnelly's career-ending crash at Jerez in 1990 sent shivers of horror down my spine. But watching the build-up to the San Marino Grand Prix of May 1st 1994 was heart-breaking.
I remember the moment vividly. I was on holiday that weekend with my parents in Cornwall and for once as a result, missed the race itself. I had begun watching F1 back in 1991 as a then 9 year old and Senna was for me the villain of the peace when up against my hero Nigel Mansell.
On the Friday of qualifying, April 29th 1994, Rubens Barrichello suffered a horrendous crash. Watching it in the film, it looked horrifying. How did Rubens survive that, like Donnelly did in 1990 I will never know. A day later however, Roland Ratzenberger was not so fortunate. On Saturday 30th April 1994, he became the first fataility in F1 since Elio de Angelis in 1986.
The next day, Senna, so the film tells us, went out to drive in only his 3rd race for the under-performing Williams with an Austrian flag hidden in his overalls. He had planned to unfurl it on the podium in memory of Ratzenberger at the end of the race. Senna never got to made that gesture.
Dad, Mum and I were driving back that Sunday afternoon from Land's End - the only time before or since that I have visited the British mainland's most south-westerly point. We were driving back listening to the radio news bulletin which to this day I recall announcing that 'the sporting world is mourning the death of...'. I can remember instantly thinking that it was surprising that they were still leading on the news headlines with the death of Ratzenberger a full 24 hours later. Then came the words that must've sent the coldest of shivers down mine and my father's backs - 'Ayrton Senna'.
Until I watched the film in recent weeks, I had never seen in the 18 years since, that moment when his Williams crashed at the Tamburello corner at Imola. I never wanted too. It was a rare race that I didn't watch live and I couldn't bring myself to watch the death of a superstar of the track after that. But the film, made with the permission of Senna's family, brought me to a head with that awful moment. As I watched it and the moments afterwards as the emergency services strived in vain to save him, I was moved to tears.
Now, only weeks later, the news is that Senna will race for Williams once more. In this case, the younger nephew will replace the Brazilian compatriot that was so fortunate to survive that crash on the Friday at Imola '94.
|Ayrton and Rubens at Imola '94|
So whilst Bruno races on, Rubenio, unlike the 47 who have lost their lives between 1952-1994 has at least lived to tell the tale of his career to his family. Ayrton Senna was the most recent in a sadly long-line of drivers who never had that opportunity.