Former team-mate of Ayrton Senna, Gerhardt Berger remembers that the Brazilian was worried about the dangerousness of the Imola corner where he ended up killing himself.
Even more than 18 years later, it is still as difficult for Gerhardt Berger, the former Ferrari driver, to evoke this May 1, 1994 and the tragic death of Ayrton Senna, his former teammate.
“This weekend was terrible, remembers the Austrian in an interview with L’Equipe. I still don’t understand how this all happened. Worse and worse. First the accident of (Rubens) Barrichello on Friday, the death of (Roland) Ratzenberger the next day (during qualifying) and then on Sunday that of Senna. A dramatic nightmare that marked our sport, but the world too. »
Berger knows only too well the corner where Senna killed himself. In 1989, he had himself been the victim of a terrible accident there, hitting the concrete wall before being trapped in his burning car. He had miraculously escaped unscathed.
Senna wanted to change this turn
“It was in Tamburello, where five years before I had had mine, pursues Berger over Senna’s death. The next day, Ayrton had called me to do something with this turn which was really dangerous. So when I got out, we went back to the track to see what we could do. On the spot, we saw the river behind and we said to ourselves that we could not move it. We just didn’t think it was possible to change the layout (which was done after Senna’s death). We left, we capitulated. And that’s where he died (long silence). »
Winner of 10 Grand Prix in F1, Berger will have had his best years with Ferrari, alongside Senna, who notably offered him success in Japan in 1991 by slowing down in the last corner. ” Crazy fighter, but the coolest guy I’ve ever known, confides the Austrian. You know his talent, his concentration, his discipline. But the man behind the champ was awesome. He was my friend because we were the same age, the same passions. We spent our holidays on the boat laughing. Afterwards, it was not the type to give presents. Even to friends. One day, while he was reading the Bible in the motorhome, I went to see him to ask him how someone so religious could be so mean on the track (he bursts out laughing). »