Roland remembered   

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In the celebration of Ayrton Senna’s life 30 years after his fatal accident, less will have been made about another tragic death that weekend during the 1994 San Marino GP: Roland Ratzenberger.

A passionate racer killed at 33 while still striving to realise his racing dream in a last-gasp qualifying effort, this month’s F1 Retro looks back on a moving interview with the Austrian’s father Rudolf.

Roland scraped his way through the European and Japanese scenes with decent talent but little money until he managed a short-lived F1 tenure with the backmarker Simtek team – but he has a significant place in GP history.

Ratzenberger’s father, rather than claiming that Senna’s death overshadowed his own son’s, says the Brazilian’s passing and planned tribute (he was carrying an Austrian flag in his Williams during the race) has helped preserve Roland’s memory.

The piece is as harrowing as it is moving though, bringing home the sheer anguish of a father losing his son in such a public and high profile way.

However, the lasting impression is an unbridled love for the racetrack matched by a warm personality which touched those who met him.

“My best friend,” said Mika Salo afterwards. “You could always count on Roland.”

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Roland Ratzenberger

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