• May 15 down the years

Senna crashes out of near-certain win

What happened in Formula One history on this day?
Senna's car in the barriers at Portier © Sutton Images

Ayrton Senna unexpectedly crashed out of the lead at Monaco after dominating the race in its early stages. So distraught was Senna that he went straight home to his nearby apartment and was found hours later sobbing about the missed opportunity. He had taken a 50-second lead after his team-mate Alain Prost missed a gear and fell behind the Ferrari of Gerhard Berger. Senna was told to back off by McLaren but in doing so lost concentration and went straight on at Portier. By that time Prost had passed Berger and eventually won the race by 20 seconds from the Ferrari driver.

Elio de Angelis died after a fiery accident during testing at Paul Ricard in France. The rear wing of his Brabham detached at high speed causing his car to cartwheel off the circuit and over the crash barriers. The impact itself didn't kill him but the lack of marshals at the test meant he struggled to get himself out of the burning wreck and he later died of smoke inhalation. Nigel Mansell recalls the accident: "Alain Prost and I tried to get him out, but the car was crackling and exploding and there was just no way. Poor Elio had no chance." The tragic circumstances of his death weighed heavily on the sport's conscience and FISA president Jean-Marie Balestre put in to action a number of measures to improve safety. De Angelis is often considered to be the last of F1's gentleman racers as he came from a wealthy family and was a concert pianist.

Just two weeks after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, Karl Wendlinger was left in a coma after a massive accident during Thursday practice for the Monaco Grand Prix. The car got out of shape heading into the harbour chicane and slammed into the barriers backwards at very high speed. Sauber withdrew from the event as a result and Wendlinger made a full recovery but didn't race again that season.

Keke Rosberg won the Monaco Grand Prix after deciding to start on slick tyres on a damp track. The majority had started on wet tyres and were soon in the pits, handing Rosberg a considerable lead. Marc Surer, another driver who started on slicks, had looked set to take a podium in his Arrows from 13th on the grid but his race fell apart when he came together with Derek Warwick battling for third entering the first corner. In the end Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost, both drivers who had started on wet tyres, came through to finish second and third.

Michael Schumacher won the first of his five Monaco Grand Prix victories. Starting from pole, he took advantage of a first corner crash between Damon Hill and Mika Hakkinen to take a comfortable early lead. It was only threatened when he came perilously close to hitting the barrier after sliding on oil put down by Mark Blundell's blown engine. Martin Brundle eventually took second place in the McLaren after pitting at one stage to have rubbish removed from his sidepods, which was causing his engine to overheat.