It's been 18 years since the fateful and tragic weekend that was the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, and always worth noting that besides the loss of Ayrton Senna, Formula 1 also lost Roland Ratzenberger, the 33-year-old Austrian rookie, during qualifying on Saturday. This Monday, April 30, marks 18 years since his fatal accident.
Ratzenberger's ascent into Formula 1 came after a decade racing in Formula Ford, British Formula 3, World Touring Cars and even at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. He raced four times at Le Mans with a best finish of fifth in 1993, in a Toyota.
Come 1994 and after a several-year sojourn into Japan, Ratzenberger made it into F1, with the fledgling Simtek Grand Prix team that was also new to the World Championship, with teammate David Brabham. Although he failed to qualify on debut in Brazil, Ratzenberger came home 11th in the following round, the Pacific Grand Prix in his first start at the Aida Circuit in Japan.
Ratzenberger's accident at Villeneuve Corner came at nearly 200mph, officially 195.68, with the cause of death a basilar skull fracture.
The shaken F1 paddock was set to pay tribute in full to the Austrian on Sunday in the aftermath of the accident, with Senna, of course, carrying a furled flag in his Williams during the race.