By William Jones, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Twenty years passed this week since the tragic death of Brazilian Formula One racing legend Ayrton Senna, who died while behind the wheel during the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. Supporters, team members and other racing drivers gathered at the scene of the three time championship winner’s fatal crash in Imola, Italy, where Ayrton Senna competed for the last time.
Family members, plus past and present drivers, also gathered as a silence was held at the exact time of the accident. Fans gathered from around the world and many laid flowers beneath a bronze statue of Senna which stands near the corner where he fatally crashed.
Members of Senna’s family, including his niece Paula, attended the service. “It’s so emotional for us because it’s a long time and still, the love from the people is very alive,” she told the BBC. “This is very special for me because we are the family, but it seems like Ayrton is living inside people’s hearts, so it’s beautiful.”
Also speaking to the BBC, Damon Hill, Senna’s team-mate in 1994, said: “The Japanese and the Brazilians saw him as a god. His passion was undeniable and I sincerely believe he wanted to make the world a better place.” Double world champion Fernando Alonso, said “For a lot of us, he was our idol.”
The commemorations began with a ceremony and a parade to remember both Senna and Roland Ratzenberger who died in qualification on the same track the day before. During the day of the anniversary of his death, Ayrton Senna’s grave at the Morumbi Cemetery in the Zona Sul (South Zone) of São Paulo, received hundreds fans who laid flowers, messages, flags of Brazil and also held prayers at his grave.
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