- April 30 down the years
Ratzenberger dies at ImolaWhat happened on April 30 in Formula One history?
The first fatality of a tragic weekend at Imola came when Roland Ratzenberger was killed after the front wing on his Simtek failed during qualifying and he flew off the track at high speed. He had damaged the wing on the pervious lap but decided to stay out on track and chase the final grid spot for the race the next day. The wing flew off and went underneath the car, causing him to lose control and slide into the crash barrier. Only a day later, Ayrton Senna lost his life when his Williams left the circuit at Tamburello.
Jenson Button was linked with a Ferrari drive after Michael Schumacher appeared to be stalling on a contract renewal. A Ferrari insider told The News of the World: "The team has been highly impressed by Jenson and [Ferrari president] Luca di Montezemelo has labelled him as a star of the future. Things are in the balance because Michael has a contract until the end of next year, but we do not know what he wants to do and we cannot afford to wait." Needless to say, Schumacher signed to stay on at the team and Button struggled for another year at Renault team before joining BAR.
Formula One returned to San Marino one year after Ayrton Senna's death, with a new chicane at the Tamburello corner where Senna had died. Damon Hill won the race after Michael Schumacher crashed heavily on a drying track in his ill-handling Benetton. In the post-race press conference Hill was in a reflective mood: "In all honesty the thought that this is the place where we saw such terrible times last year I was able to keep out of my mind most of the time and get on with the job. However, I think today was a good race and I think Ayrton would have approved of it."
Duncan Hamilton was born in Cork, Ireland on this day. He only took part in five grand prix but was raced prolifically in the years following World War II. He appeared at the Le Mans 24 Hours nine times between 1950 and 1958. He won the race in 1953 alongside his co-driver Tony Rolt, despite hitting a bird at 130 mph which broke his nose.
Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost confirmed the F1 paddock's worst fears that the McLaren MP4-4 would dominate the 1988 championship, when the pair qualified about three seconds faster than third-placed man Nelson Piquet at the San Marino Grand Prix. Senna had been on pole at the previous round in Brazil and Prost had won, but the team's dominance at Imola was something else. McLaren went on to win all but one race that season and Senna took 13 pole positions.