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Verstappen Hails Senna 30 Years On From Imola Tragedy

  • SPORT
  • 3 min read

The spirit of Ayrton Senna always hangs over Imola but particularly this weekend as Formula One pays homage to the Brazilian great 30 years on from his death at the Italian circuit.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen hailed his fellow triple world champion in his own way by equalling Senna’s 1988-89 record of eight successive pole positions on a sunny afternoon at the track near Bologna.

“It’s 30 years since he passed away at this track. So, of course, very pleased to get pole here. And in a way it’s a nice memory to him,” said the 26-year-old Dutch driver, whose father Jos made his F1 debut in that 1994 season.

“He was an incredible Formula One driver, especially in qualifying laps as well.”

Senna still ranks third in the overall list of most F1 poles, his career 65 surpassed only by seven-times champions Lewis Hamilton (104) and Michael Schumacher (68).

Verstappen is now on 39 and fast catching up. He also equalled a record set by Senna’s French arch-rival Alain Prost in 1993, that of seven consecutive poles at the start of a season.

The top three on Sunday will also have a reminder on the podium, with a special jereboam of sparkling Ferrari Trento wine to be sprayed and later auctioned in aid of the Senna foundation.

There are lingering Senna reminders everywhere — a faded picture on a grandstand and flowers and tributes left by devoted fans at his statue near the track and behind the wall where he crashed. He was 34 years old.00:12Run, walk, crawl: Runners take on China’s Great Wall

Four-times champion Sebastian Vettel is doing laps in Senna’s 1993 McLaren and has involved teams and drivers in other activities remembering the Brazilian and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, who died that same weekend.

F1 drivers ran around the track on Thursday and gathered for a moment of silence at the Tamburello curve, fixing padlocks with #Forever Senna branding to other tributes on the fence.

They were also asked to wear Senna fireproof balaclavas over the weekend.

“The closest I got to Ayrton was watching a Friday practice session from the grandstands at Hockenheim during the German Grand Prix. Sadly, I never had the chance to meet him in person,” said Vettel.

“What I particularly valued about him, much later on, was that he was not only one of the best racing drivers ever but that he also showed compassion and support for the often difficult social problems and poverty that affected his home country.”

Fans and politicians had already gathered on the May 1 anniversary, some carrying the Brazilian flag before a minute’s silence.

Reuters