‘One of the strongest emotions I’ve felt’ - Sebastian Vettel on Ayrton Senna tribute run

Sebastian Vettel opens up about the emotion of his tribute run to Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) in a 1993 McLaren MP4/8. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 7, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola,
Sebastian Vettel (GER) in a 1993 McLaren MP4/8. Formula 1 World…

Sebastian Vettel has described his special demo run in tribute to Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at Imola was “one of the strongest emotions I’ve felt behind the wheel” of an F1 car.

Senna and Ratzenberger were tragically killed 30 years ago in separate incidents at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix on what is regarded as being F1’s darkest weekend in history.

Four-time world champion Vettel returned to the F1 paddock in Imola to lead tributes to Senna, hosting a track run on Thursday with drivers from F1, F2 and F3 wearing ‘Forever’ shirts in the Brazilian’s iconic colours.

Vettel then took Senna’s last race-winning McLaren 1993 MP48 F1 for laps of honour around the track on Sunday ahead of the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, paying respect to both Senna and Ratzenberger by waving the Brazilian and Austrian flags.

Vettel had tears in his eyes when he got out of the car and admitted he was overwhelmed by the emotion of the occasion.

“It’s difficult to put in words – it was one of the strongest emotions I’ve felt behind the wheel despite being alone on track and not even racing. Incredible,” Vettel told media including Crash.net at Imola.

“When I got the flags out it was so powerful. We had a very strong and emotional moment on Thursday when we ran the track and another one today.

“It’s overwhelming and I’m happy that I had the courage to address my idea and come forward and invite the Senna family on the idea. We only got positive feedback and it seemed like the right thing to do.

“Ayrton is a driver that will be remembered, but we need to make sure we actively do so. That weekend as well, Roland lost his life – two drivers who are sort of colleagues of mine but I never had the chance to meet them. It means so much more than just racing.”

Asked how special it was to wave the Austrian flag, something that Senna planned to do before his fateful crash, Vettel replied: “Exactly. Obviously the Brazilian flag was clear because it was something he used to do after the races, but I know the same story.

“I was thinking about whether it was the right thing to do to finish the job, but I don’t think it will ever be finished and it’s not about finishing. But again, to try to make people remember and it felt very special when I got both flags out.

“It was a very special and very meaningful weekend for me, with the run on Thursday and again the run on track, sharing that with people in the grandstands because there were a lot of Brazilian flags out there as well.”

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