Roland Ratzenberger was an Austrian racing driver who competed in several different categories of motorsport. He is best known for his tragic death during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, which occurred only one day before the death of Formula One legend Ayrton Senna.

Early Life and Career

Born on July 4, 1960, in Salzburg, Austria, Ratzenberger initially worked as a mechanic and raced in lower-level formulae. In the early 1980s he left Austria to continue his career abroad. After a handful of races in various championships including British Formula Three and German Formula Three series, he reached international prominence with his performance in Japanese F3000 championship while driving for the Team LeMans.

Racing Career

Ratzenberger's biggest achievement came during the 1993 season when he qualified for the Monaco Grand Prix driving for Simtek Ford. Unfortunately, a mechanical problem forced him to retire on lap 33 despite being well-placed in the midfield. At Imola for the third round of the 1994 Formula One World Championship and after struggling to pre-qualify his Simtek S941 chassis since last year’s six-race stint with Rial didn’t provide enough seat time to adapt properly; Ratzenberger’s accident occurred around ten minutes into qualifying whilst travelling at over 310km/h through Villeneuve corner when his front wing became loose due to a manufacturing failure which resulted in loss of downforce causing him understeers straight into Hella-Lage curve where by brutally hitting flat-out (sixth gear) concrete wall crash that killed him instantly.


The death of Roland Ratzenberger came just one day before Ayrton Senna's fatal accident on May 1,1994 at San Marino Grand Prix creating much outcry regarding safety measures introduced by FIA or its lack thereof. The lessons learned from these tragedies led to significant safety improvements in F1 and motorsports in general, making the sport much safer for drivers.


Roland Ratzenberger's death was a tragedy that shook the world of motorsport. Despite his relatively short-stint in Formula One, he left a lasting impression on the sport. Ratzenberger's legacy is important because lessons learned from this and other similar accidents have made racing safer for everyone involved. He will always be remembered by those who knew him personally as well as those who appreciated his passion for Formula One.