Paddock postcard from Imola 25 Apr 2004
San Marino pays tribute to heroes of the past
The lives of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna have been celebrated in Imola this weekend, despite the sombre nature of the 10th anniversary of their deaths.
On Wednesday members of Brazilian's national football team took on (and thrashed!) a squad that included several drivers, among them Michael Schumacher and Fernando Alonso. Proceeds from the charity match went to the Senna Foundation.
"There was no game in front of us," the world champion said. "We just had to defend against the professionals! It was good fun, but it got better in the second half when we swapped some players."
Felipe Massa, who celebrates his 23rd birthday today, said: "It was funny because when I was a young child I was sometimes thinking I could maybe be a football player. And now I have the answer. It is really impossible! To watch them play? Well, it's better that I drive a car."
"They didn't run much, but we did!" Jarno Trulli admitted.
At Imola's Sforzas Castle there's been an exhibition of Senna memorabilia and photographs by Keith Sutton, who helped Senna with his early public relations, and there was also a Cremonini's painting exhibition. Elsewhere, Kimi Raikkonen received the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy, recognising his fighting spirit in the name of the Ferrari ace killed chasing Denny Hulme for the lead at Monaco in 1967.
Ratzenberger has not been forgotten. Sutton commissioned some special helmet-shaped pin badges, which all of the quiet Austrian's friends have been wearing with pride.
This morning the main grandstand will be dedicated in Senna's honour, and Gerhard Berger will drive a commemorative lap for both drivers in the black and gold Lotus 97T once raced by Senna. There will also be a parade of sports cars in their name and a Holy Mass.
Among the usual smattering of former Formula One drivers one in particular stood out, as 1997 and '98 CART champion Alex Zanardi made his first appearance at a Grand Prix and was mobbed wherever he went.
On the track, rising star Vitantonio Liuzzi drove the perfect race from pole position to take his first victory in F3000, comfortably heading home Enrico Toccacelo's BCN Competition Lola by eight seconds. Liuzzi's Arden International team mate Robert Doornbos was a further 22 seconds adrift in third.