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Senna Versus Schumacher And Other Formula One Rivalries That Never Happened

Senna Versus Schumacher And Other Formula One Rivalries That Never Happened

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Senna Versus Schumacher And Other Formula One Rivalries That Never Happened

256 pages
6 hours
May 14, 2015


Ayrton Senna died of injuries sustained in a crash at the Imola circuit on 1 May 1994. His death deprived fans of a great rivalry in the making, namely the one with Michael Schumacher, the eventual World Champion that season. Many questions remain unanswered, like:

» Would Senna have taken on Schumacher for the 1994 title?
» Could Senna have won other championships in later seasons?
» Would Senna have eventually driven for Ferrari?

There are countless racing drivers, both in Formula One and in other racing series, that have died due to crashes over the decades. ‘Senna vs Schumacher and Other Formula One Rivalries That Never Happened’ explores several stories revolving around drivers and their main rivalries had they not died or been injured to the extent that they could no longer compete at the top level:

1. Senna versus Schumacher
2. Villeneuve versus Prost
3. Moss versus Clark
4. Ascari versus Fangio

This book explores those rivalries by assuming that drivers’ injuries from crashes were not fatal, and pits those drivers up against their peers once more in the Grands Prix and racing seasons that followed. It is about Senna versus Schumacher, and other Formula One rivalries that never happened.

May 14, 2015

Об авторе

Christiaan Lustig was the main Formula 1 editor at Autosport.nl (in Dutch) from late 1999 throughout 2004. He wrote Grand Prix news as it happened, and posted practice, qualifying and race reports. During one season, he also wrote race reports for the teletext service of Dutch television network RTL-5. On several occasions in the same period, I wrote news articles for Formule1.nl (in Dutch) and their e-mail newsletter. Currently Christiaan works as a digital strategist and online communications and services consultant.

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Senna Versus Schumacher And Other Formula One Rivalries That Never Happened - Christiaan W. Lustig

Senna versus Schumacher And Other Formula One Rivalries That Never Happened

Copyright 2015 Christiaan W. Lustig & Mattijs Diepraam

Published by Christiaan W. Lustig & Mattijs Diepraam at Smashwords

Smashwords Edition License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold orgiven away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your enjoyment only, then please return to Smashwords.com or your favorite retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.


Stirling Moss was my hero when I raced my pedal car around the attic of my parents’ house. Then I saw Jim Clark and his Lotus 49 dominate the Dutch Grand Prix when I first visited Zandvoort as a boy. I was hooked!

Reading books was the closest I could get to legends like Fangio, Ascari and pre-war heroes such as Seaman and Lang, but that all changed when I began a life in motor racing. During my professional years in motorsport I was very fortunate to be around with arguably the all-time greats. I’ve known Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher since their karting days. Winning the World Championship four times on the trot with Schumacher, acting as his Bridgestone tyre engineer, is still the most memorable time of my career.

As anyone passionate with motor racing, I’ve often asked myself the inevitable ‘what if’ question. What if Dick Seaman hadn’t gone off into the trees at Spa? What if Alberto Ascari hadn’t agreed to that test drive at Monza? What if Stirling Moss hadn’t had his accident at Goodwood? What if Gilles Villeneuve had chosen to pass Jochen Mass on the other side? What if Ayrton Senna had not gone off during that horrible weekend in May 1994?

I’m sure every motorsport fan wishes these accidents had never happened. That is why I feel the stories that Christiaan, Mattijs and Richard have written are true tributes to the greatness of each of these drivers, and to the rivals they would have dearly wanted to measure themselves against. It’s very moving to see them well and truly alive in these stories, doing what they love best.

Racing is life. Anything before or after is just waiting, says Steve McQueen in the fictional drama that is his epic racing movie Le Mans. That holds true for the racing driver, but for the engineer and the spectator as well. The collection of fictional short stories you are about to read will help you feel alive more than ever.

Kees van de Grint


Living in our 21st century’s sporting galaxy of highly sanitized professionalism, it’s hard to imagine that sex was once the breakfast of champions. It was the time when sex was safe while motorsport was dangerous. In fact, it was so dangerous that well into the seventies motor racing kept on losing drivers each and every year. They were modern-age gladiators, who knew that at the end of another season they would have attended the funerals of at least three or four of their friends and rivals — if they were lucky to survive the season themselves.

Motor racing may be much safer now — to the point that we cringe at the moves some drivers dare to pull off, persuaded by a misguided idea of invulnerability — but it has always been a high-risk game. As manufacturers, designers and mechanics continue to look to motorsport as the ultimate test to their engineering skills, the raw danger is part of the attraction to drivers as well as spectators. That has created an image of the sport that can best be described as an intoxicating mixture of glamour, excitement and melancholia.

The dangers also meant that some of Grand Prix racing’s greatest drivers were killed — or had their careers tragically cut short — by becoming involved in various horrific accidents which robbed the sport of rivalries that could have easily eclipsed those that did capture our imagination, like those between Lauda and Hunt or Prost and Senna. What would have happened if these Grand Prix greats had lived through their ordeals, or if their accidents hadn’t occurred at all? It’s a question that has probably crossed every motor-racing fan’s mind at least once.

When we realised that the 20th anniversary of Ayrton Senna losing his life at Imola was fast approaching, we decided to want to investigate the likely answers to that question. And not just in Senna’s case — we chose three other evocative names in Grand Prix racing whose careers turned out to be unfinished symphonies: Alberto Ascari, Stirling Moss, and Gilles Villeneuve. We did so neither by extrapolating some of the facts and rumours we knew existed ahead of their fatal — or in the case of Stirling Moss, near fatal — crashes, nor by creating a set of new championship tables, but by probing our imagination.

Molding our stories as a form of ‘faction’ and turning our lost heroes into fictional characters, we sought to explore how they would have fared against the champions who followed their tracks, and perhaps more importantly, how they would have developed as human beings. What would surviving his father’s jinx have done to Alberto Ascari? What would driving for Enzo Ferrari and his father have meant to Stirling Moss? Would Gilles Villeneuve have been tempted to play the numbers game to win that elusive title? How would Ayrton Senna have influenced Michael Schumacher’s merciless tactics if the Brazilian had still been around?

Having proof-read our four stories, Richard Armstrong was inspired to write a story on his own, with Dick Seaman as its protagonist. We are proud to present the result of his work here, as a bonus for our readership. Perhaps you are tempted into creating your own ‘what if’ story. We ourselves are entertaining the thought of a Cevert versus Lauda story. Do you have others that come to mind?

We are aware that some may think of this project as a sacrilegious enterprise. Others may say that there is no use in crying over spilled milk. There’s a case for both arguments but still we disagree with either. Applying fictional techniques, we found that constructing our parallel histories gave us a better understanding of the actual events from which we derived our stories.

We hope that you, like us, will come to see these stories as a tribute to four amazing drivers as well as the rivals they were destined to never truly encounter on track. In short, we hope that our work adds a dimension to your sorrow over the opportunities that they missed, as well as your joy over what they did give us.

Christiaan W. Lustig

Mattijs Diepraam

Table of contents



Table of contents

Senna versus Schumacher

Villeneuve versus Prost

Moss versus Clark

Ascari versus Fangio

Richard Seaman, European Champion


About the authors

Senna versus Schumacher

by Christiaan W. Lustig

Keep your enemies closer

His heart was saddened by the necessity of what he was about to do, but at the same time determined to make a difference. He and his fellow Formula One drivers had just held their drivers’ meeting and were adamant to make their voices heard. Ayrton Senna opened the door of La Rascasse restaurant, surprised by the sheer number of cameras and microphones he was about to address. A few moments of silence passed before he spoke. At the drivers’ meeting today, we agreed to form the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association, he said. It was agreed that the representatives of the GPDA will be myself, Michael Schumacher, Gerhard Berger, and Christian Fittipaldi. Consultants to the GPDA will be Niki Lauda and Alain Prost. The GPDA requests representation and recognition within the FIA to improve the safety of Formula One, after the accidents of Rubens Barrichello, Roland Ratzenberger, and myself at Imola, and Karl Wendlinger, yesterday. At our meeting, we discussed to take immediate action to look at the next three grand prix circuits, together with the FIA, for possible improvements.

As soon as Senna had made his statement, the dozens of members of the press fired their questions towards him. But his thoughts were already elsewhere — he was a worried man. One by one, he looked his fellow GPDA directors in the eyes. And they looked back at him. We’re doing the right thing, Ayrton, said Michael Schumacher. Senna nodded in agreement, as did the others, while the quartet stepped back into the restaurant, leaving the mob of journalists outside. We are, Michael, Senna replied. We needed to act after all that has happened. We cannot have any more accidents. And I trust that the FIA will do the same. Over the next few weeks and months we will have to work together to prevent this from happening again.

Senna’s thoughts wandered back to the events of the previous grand prix, a fortnight ago. He was still coming to terms with what happened, and with how he would respond to it. For the tragedies that had unfolded were something that Senna hadn’t experienced before. As one of the senior drivers in the field, the only remaining World Drivers’ Champion amongst only a handful of race winners, he felt obliged to take action.

It all began prior to the 1994 season. In order to combat the spiralling costs of running a Formula One team, and to counteract criticism that over-reliance on technology was reducing the drivers to a secondary role, sweeping rule changes had been introduced for 1994. Most notable among the changes was a ban on electronic ‘driver aids’ such as active suspension, anti-lock brakes, traction control and launch control. Senna had been one of the critics of these driver aids, using his 1992 Christmas card to FIA President Max Mosley to lobby for a ban on them. But he had also warned the authorities that banning them, without simultaneously curtailing the speed of the cars, would lead to a season with a lot of accidents. He had voiced his concerns to, of all people, his former rival Alain Prost, calling him multiple times over the winter period, even going as far as asking Prost to be president of the drivers’ association.

Senna was proven right. In testing at Silverstone, J.J. Lehto, in his first test for the Benetton-Ford team, crashed to such an extent that he had to be removed from the car, unconscious, and taken to a hospital where he was shown to have a fractured vertebra in his neck. After the opening grand prix in Brazil, while testing at the Mugello circuit, Jean Alesi hurt his back after crashing his Ferrari.

At the third race, all hell broke loose. From the start of the weekend, there was an unpleasant atmosphere in the San Marino Grand Prix paddock. Despite all electronic driver aids having been banned prior to the season, there were suspicions that the Benetton team were still using them. The FIA were obviously having trouble policing. It was a burden on Senna’s shoulders and it only added to his difficulties of settling into his new team and adapting to the Williams-Renault car. Never mind the uneasy start to the season he had experienced.

In Friday qualifying, Jordan-Hart’s Rubens Barrichello violently crashed at the Variante Bassa chicane, it was launched into the air across the kerbs, clearing the tyre barrier at the opposite side, brutally striking the debris fences. The car rolled, smashing Barrichello’s head onto the steering wheel and cockpit sides, and knocking him unconscious. When the car finally landed, upside down, Barrichello was about to swallow his tongue. Quick intervention by the medical team, under the experienced guidance of Professor Sid Watkins, saved the Brazilian’s life.

When Senna heard about the crash and that it concerned his protégé, he hurried to the medical centre. But as soon as Barrichello regained consciousness, Senna left him to the care of his good friend, professor Watkins. That evening, at his hotel, Senna dined with several friends and colleagues, among which his brother, Leonardo, and his manager, Julian Jakobi, speaking with them for a long time about the meaning and consequence of chance, about good luck and bad luck. And he mentioned launching safety plans prior to the next Grand Prix. Little did Senna know that the worst was yet to come.

Some twenty minutes into in Saturday’s second qualifying session, Roland Ratzenberger damaged the front wing of his Simtek-Ford, a lap later lost the wing altogether on the straight towards Curva Villeneuve, and smashed virtually head-on into the concrete wall at the corner almost at full speed. A rescue team hurried to the scene of the accident, but the Austrian was beyond help.

Senna had watched the crash on the closed-circuit TV screens in his Williams pit box, while getting ready for his own qualifying laps. With his gaze fixed onto the screen, he removed his helmet, and after several moments turned away his head, shaking it in disbelief. Senna summoned one of the track officials to drive him to Villeneuve corner, to observe the crash site himself, but of course there was nothing he could do.

Once back in the paddock, Senna broke down in tears on Sid Watkins’ shoulder. Watkins was surprised by Senna’s state, but soon realised what it was. He has never faced the reality of his profession before so starkly, Watkins thought. No one has been killed during his time in Formula 1. This is the first time it has come so close.

On the morning of the San Marino Grand Prix, Senna briefly spoke to former driver and Ferrari consultant Niki Lauda about safety issues. During the drivers’ briefing, there was a minute’s silence for Ratzenberger, and in the back of the room, Senna quietly wept. After the briefing, he discussed safety with fellow drivers Schumacher, Berger and Alboreto. The foursome agreed to meet with all the drivers on the Friday prior to the next race, in Monte Carlo. Lauda would also be invited to contribute. Senna and Schumacher left the drivers’ meeting together, further discussing matters amongst themselves.

How do you feel, Michael? Senna asked.

Difficult to say, really. I try to focus on the job at hand. And that is to get into my car in a few hours, and try to win the race.

Of course, that is what we do. But don’t you feel any restraint, any doubts?

Well, you know what Gerhard said, yesterday. In times like these, the question any driver asks himself, is whether he wants to race again. And that’s what keeps me going: I want to race.

So do I… but this doesn’t take away the responsibilities we have. You and I, together with Gerhard, Damon, and Alboreto.

Why us five? Why me?

I feel obliged because I am the only world champion left. Piquet retired, Mansell, and now Prost, too. With Gerhard and Alboreto, I am the most experienced driver. And, with them, and Damon, you and I are the only ones having won grands prix. It’s our job. It’s our responsibility.

A few moments in quiet followed. Senna had spoken the truth. But he had also come to realise that Schumacher would be his main rival for 1994, and possibly beyond. And with his suspicions about the Benetton’s legality in mind, he felt all the more that he needed to keep a close eye on Schumacher.

I need you with me, Senna admitted.

Schumacher looked him in the eyes. I understand, he said. Let’s talk in Monaco.

On the starting grid for the San Marino Grand Prix, Senna was visibly worried. He sat in his car, strapped into his safety harness, but without his helmet on, for some fifteen minutes. Something he never did. Every now and then he closed his eyes as if he was in prayer. Senna was clearly a man in turmoil, not sure whether he was doing the right thing. It was as if he — very much the senior driver in the field — felt responsible for the safety of his younger colleagues. And the mêlée wasn’t over, yet.

At two o’clock local time, the field of 24 cars left the grid for the warm-up lap. Then the cars lined up for the start, and when the starting lights went from red to green, the race was on. But Lehto, in fifth place, stalled his engine, and while sixteen cars managed to avoid the stranded Benetton, Pedro Lamy, starting from 22nd for Lotus, had his view blocked by the cars in front of him. The Portuguese ran into the left rear side of the Benetton, tearing off his right front wheel, along with countless other parts of both cars, launching it over the safety fence, into the crowd. Both drivers were able to get out of their cars unaided, and both walked back to the pits, but in the grandstands nine spectators suffered minor injuries.

The Safety Car was sent out to enable the marshals to clean up the wreckage on the start-finish straight. Four laps later, at the start of lap six, the Safety Car left the track again, restarting the race. Senna led the pack, with Schumacher just over half a second behind, the heavy cars creating spectacular sparks when the undersides touched the tarmac.

The rivalling duo completed the lap in unchanged order, and Senna prepared to take Tamburello corner like he had done hundreds of times before, but this time, something went wrong. The bottom of the Williams-Renault hit the tarmac again, forcing the car into slight oversteer. Senna corrected the slide by steering right, in the left-hand Tamburello curve, while moving at 310 km/h. The tyres instantly regained grip, negating Senna’s blindingly quick reaction to the slide: it had been too much. The Williams slid off the ideal line, onto the dirty side of the track, and onto the grass, crashing into the concrete wall at 218 km/h.

Although the crash seemed relatively straightforward, it was obvious that Senna had been injured in some way. As soon as race control understood the severity of the accident, the race was red-flagged to allow medical personnel to do their jobs. There was no movement in the cockpit. Upon impact, the right front suspension had broken, releasing the wheel from the chassis. It ricocheted from Senna’s helmet and knocked the driver unconscious. Senna’s head leaned motionless onto the right side of the cockpit for over a minute. Watkins and his medical team extricated Senna from the wrecked Williams-Renault, and laid him on the ground. Quickly afterwards, the medical helicopter landed on the now-empty track. And right before Senna was rushed to Maggiore hospital, the triple World Champion opened his eyes.

Over half an hour after Senna’s crash, the grand prix was restarted. Schumacher battled with Berger for the lead until the latter had to retire with mechanical problems. Ten laps from the finish, more mayhem: as veteran Michele Alboreto made a stop at his Minardi team’s pits, the Italian mechanics hadn’t fastened the car’s right rear wheel. And when Alboreto accelerated away from the pit box, the wheel came loose, and struck two Ferrari and two Lotus mechanics. They were left needing medical attention.

An undeterred Schumacher took his third victory from as many races. Nicola Larini scored a second place for Ferrari, while the third and last podium spot went to Mika Häkkinen and McLaren. Neither of them sprayed champagne after the national anthems were played, out of respect for their colleague Roland Ratzenberger. Schumacher increased his lead in the Drivers’ Championship to a massive 23 points over both Hill and Barrichello.

Late that the afternoon, at Maggiore hospital, Dr. Maria Teresa Fiandri announced that Ayrton Senna had suffered from a Grade III concussion. Mr. Senna was unconscious for several minutes after the crash, but regained consciousness just as the medical helicopter left the circuit. Immediately after arriving at the hospital, Dr. Fiandri and her colleagues subjected Senna to an MRI scan, which assured the doctors that the driver had not suffered brain damage. We plan to keep Senna under observation for another 48 hours, Dr. Fiandri added, And, if no complications occur, we should be able to discharge him after that.

On Wednesday morning prior to the Monaco Grand Prix, Senna gave his first interview after the accident. I am very happy to be here again, said the Brazilian to a gathering of newspaper journalists, magazine writers, and television reporters, "especially after my crash in Imola. It was a heavy impact, which knocked me unconscious, but professor Watkins and his team worked hard to help me. On the Wednesday after the race, I was released from the hospital by doctor Fiandri — whom I would like to thank for everything that she and her team have done — and I travelled by car back to my apartment,

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