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OBSCURE F1 A-Z: ROLAND RATZENBERGER


In this 26 part series of posts I will be going through the alphabet and for each letter, a profile piece on an obscure driver - some you may have heard of before some you may never knew even sat in an F1 car let alone raced one. I have chosen a driver for each letter choosing them based on their surnames.

If you know your F1 history chances are you would have heard about Roland Ratzenberger - he was the other driver killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix - what has come to be known as F1's darkest hour. On the Saturday qualifying session Ratzenberger crashed at 195mph into an unprotected wall the front wheel entered the cockpit, the force was so violent it caused a skull fracture and a rupture to his aorta, both injuries as an individual were fatal - death was normal to drivers in Formula One at this time. 45 drivers had been killed before Ratzenberger.

Despite the loss of a fellow driver the race on the Sunday went ahead. During that race Ayrton Senna - arguably the greatest ever racing driver crashed his Williams and sadly never walked away. It took the loss of Senna for F1 to take real change in regards to the safety of motorsport as a whole.

Of course we know that racing will always be dangerous and improvements are being made even in recent times with the introduction of the halo to all single seater series. Racing will always be dangerous and that was shown in 2014 when we lost Jules Bianchi and in 2019 when we lost F2 driver Anthoine Hubert.

Ratzenberger was entered into just three races starting one, his debut coming in the 1994 Brazilian Grand Prix where he failed to qualify and was not involved in the first race of that years season. Two races later it was the San Marino Grand Prix - the race Ratzenberger would never make.

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