Formula 1 05 May 2006 12:44 pm

Senna versus Schumacher – great video

I remember very clearly the night (Australian time) F1 driver Ayrton Senna died.

I didn’t have a lot of love for Senna out of the car, but I admired his driving tremendously. He was blisteringly quick, and could control a car like a seal balances a ball on its nose (eh?). His skill was perhaps best exemplified at the 1993 European GP (held at Donington Park in England) — see here for details.

On the fateful night of his death, I was watching the race on Channel 9. It had already been a terrible weekend for Formula 1. Rubens Barichello had been injured in Friday practice and was in hospital. Roland Ratzenberger was killed in Saturday practice.

Ayrton Senna died when his car left the track and struck the barriers at around 135mph. There are plenty of sites that speculate as to the exact cause of the accident. The Wikipedia entry for Ayrton Senna is here.

When I went to bed that night, the race had been stopped to allow Senna to be removed from the car. It was late, and I had to go to work the next day. I expected to wake up to the news that Senna had broken legs and was in hospital. I was stunned to learn of his death. Two drivers killed in two days! One of them Senna! Like many, I think I thought him to be invincible. He couldn’t have died. But it was true. One of the great drivers of all time was gone.

Well, enough maudlin talk.

Lefty sent me a link to a superb video. You can view it here.

This video shows on car footage of Senna driving a hot lap around Suzuka in his McLaren, with a picture-in-picture of on-car footage from Michael Schumacher’s car ten years later. The lap times are almost identical.

I’m pretty sure there are no definitive conclusions to be drawn from this video. The cars are so very different (Senna’s is ‘wide’, Schumi’s is ‘narrow’; Senna is on slicks, Schumi on grooved tyres; Senna has a 3.5 litre engine, Schumi has 3.0 litres; Senna has active suspension, Schumi doesn’t; etc.). But I noted the following:
* loads of suspension travel on Senna’s car
* note how he has to take his hand off the wheel to change gear
* listen to the engine SCREAM on some of the downshifts.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.

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