Ayrton Senna would have joined Ferrari for the final years of his Formula One career, the team’s president Luca di Montezemolo has claimed.
On the day before the 20th anniversary of Senna’s death during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Montezemolo told Ferrari’s website: “He wanted to come to Ferrari and I wanted him in the team.”
Montezemolo said he met Senna four days before he was killed at Imola. “When he was in Italy for the San Marino Grand Prix, we met at my home in Bologna on Wednesday 27 April.”
“He told me he really appreciated the stand we had taken against the excessive use of electronic aids for driving, which didn’t allow a driver’s skill to shine through,” said Montezemolo.
Driver aids such as active suspension and traction control had been banned at the end of 1993. However at the Pacific Grand Prix two weeks before the Imola race Ferrari had been found to have a form of traction control on their cars.
Montezemolo said Senna, who had joined Williams from McLaren at the beginning of 1994, was already thinking about his next career move: “We spoke for a long time and he made it clear to me that he wanted to end his career at Ferrari, having come close to joining us a few years earlier.”
“We agreed to meet again soon, so as to look at how we could overcome his contractual obligations at the time. We were both in agreement that Ferrari would be the ideal place for him to further his career, which to date had been brilliant, even unique.”
However Senna lost his life just four days later. “Unfortunately, fate robbed all of us of Ayrton and Roland Ratzenberger over one of the saddest weekends in Formula One history,” said Montezemolo.
“Of Senna, I remember his kindness and his simple almost shy nature, which was in complete contrast to Senna the driver, a fighter always aiming for the best.”
“I always appreciated Ayrton’s style of racing,” he added. “As with all great champions, he had an incredible will to win and never tired of seeking perfection, trying to improve all the time. He was extraordinary in qualifying, but also a great battler in the races, when he always fought tooth and nail.”
1994 F1 season
- Schumacher’s first title tainted by clash with Hill
- How Brundle’s 1994 Suzuka crash mirrored Bianchi’s
- Schumacher edges clear as fuel rig thwarts Hill
- Hill cuts Schumacher’s lead to one point in Portugal
- Hill wins as crash crushes Lotus’s recovery hopes
Image © Williams/LAT