I have the worst memory at the best of times, but there are some things that just stick out in my mind, and the weekend of May the First 1994 has many such moments. It was, and has correctly been described by many, including the late, great, Murray Walker – the Darkest weekend in Formula One.

I was 17 years old, and being 30 years older than my first child Jackson, it’s strange to look at him now and realise that’s exactly how old I was when Ayrton Senna died.

For my whole life I had been, and have continued to be a rev head. I loved watching the Australian Touring Car Championship, Perkins, Brock, Johnson, Mezera, Ashby & Reed, those were my days.

And I tried to watch as much Formula One as I could. What today’s generation will never appreciate is that we had just a bit. We got the race, just the race, and it was, like now – normally in the middle of the night.

There was no live coverage of Practice, or Qualifying, and there was no social media to scan and keep in touch.

Aussie kids and F1 fans turned to Channel 9’s Wide World of Sports on the weekend for details, and late at night we’d wait for Darrell Eastlake and Alan Jones’ coverage of the F1 to start, update us on the grid, any happenings on the ground, and get us ready for race-time.

That weekend was different. Because on the Friday at Imola in San Marino, Rubens Barrichello had a nasty high speed accident that was quite honestly remarkable to see. The footage of that crash made the news – something Friday F1 practice didn’t often do.

Rubens was ok. But the following day the weekend took a tragic turn.

Rookie F1 Driver, 33 year old Austrian Roland Ratzenberger, racing for the MTV Simtek team in his third Grand Prix weekend was involved in one of the highest impact crashes in F1.

During Saturday’s second qualifying session, Ratzenberger had a little “off” at the Acque Minerali chicane. He didn’t realise that he had suffered minor front-wing damage, and when he approached the high-downforce Villeneuve corner the wing broke, became lodged under the car and hit the wall on the outside of the curve at a staggering 314.9km/h.

If you’ve seen the vision of the accident, it was obvious to all that the accident had taken his life as he sat head slumped to the side of the cockpit as the car came to a halt on the track.

This was the first death in a Grand Prix weekend in 12 years.

Ratzenberger’s team-mate at Simtek was Australian David Brabham who in the face of tragedy chose to continue the race weekend for the team.

The Formula One paddock, in fact the whole community was shocked by Ratzenberger’s death.

Williams FW15D – The car Senna tested ahead of the 1994 Season

It’s well known that F1 doctor, Neurosurgeon Sid Watkins delivered the news of Roland’s death to Ayrton Senna who has stated that Senna was inconsolable, and suggested he withdraw from the Sunday Race.

Senna famously said “I cannot quit, I have to go on”

Tragically, the next day Senna lost his own life.

It was Sunday May 1 in Sydney Australia, 10pm at night was race-time.

At the start of the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1 1994 Pedro Lamy and JJ Lehto had a start line crash, with debris fling into the crowd injuring up to nine spectators.

The Safety Car was deployed and proceeded to circulate for five laps – slowly, and frustratingly for the drivers, not least Senna himself.

Before the cars crossed the line to start lap six, the Safety Car pulled in and the lead of the race was handed to Senna who immediately set off at pace.

On the following lap, Lap 7 and full racing speed, Senna’s car took a straight line through the left handed curve known as Tamburello.

His Williams hit the concrete barrier on the right hand side of the circuit, with data later showing he entered the corner at 309km/h. Senna braked hard and was able to shift down two gears but had no control of the car – hitting the wall at 211km/h.

The car hit the wall on a slight angle, front right wheel first with the car spinning back out onto the track before rolling back onto the verge outside the track pointing in the direction of the race.

Immediately he was motionless, lifeless.

Many say they saw movement, but this has since been attributed to muscle spasms. Sadly the helicopter vision of the car shows a large red patch of blood on his race-suit, likely the reason marshalls at the track-side didn’t attend to Ayrton in any way until the medical team arrived.

Minutes later the medical team extracted Senna from the car and began treatment, including an emergency tracheotomy.

It was of course F1’s Doctor Sid Watkins, Senna’s friend, who attended to Senna, and he was famously quoted as saying “He looked serene. I raised his eyelids and it was clear from his pupils that he had a massive brain injury. We lifted him from the cockpit and laid him on the ground. As we did, he sighed and, although I am not religious, I felt his spirit depart at that moment.”

Senna’s crash happened at 10.17pm Sydney time, it wasn’t until 2am that Senna was pronounced dead by the hospital.

Now, I had to work the next day, in Sydney City. I caught the train from Woy Woy station to Central where I changed to a City Circle train to go to my office.

Sitting on the station at Central, looking across the tracks to another platform I could see a man reading the newspaper with a massive headline “SENNA COMA”.

Without real-time news, social media, smartphones, that was the most I could get by way of an update.

It wasn’t until my first morning walk (I was hand delivering parcels and letters for an accountancy firm at the time), when I walked past a Newsagency and saw the updated Telegraph Mirror poster out front saying “SENNA KILLED”.

Just hard to fathom.

A rookie, Killed on Saturday, and one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time, and certainly of my time, killed on the Sunday.

There were years of investigations into the Senna Crash. Officially, the Steering column failed, causing Ayrton to lose control. Remarkably, Williams’ Technical Director Patrick Head suggested Senna made a driving error, something team-mate Damon Hill also speculated.

Legendary designer Adrian Newey believes a Tyre Puncture caused the crash.

Sadly, we’ll never really know, nor does it matter.

Senna should never have died from that crash, and it’s likely no F1 Driver will again from such a crash. In fact we’ve seen many similar accidents in the years since. The difference is the safety of the race-cars today.

So much changed as a result of the deaths of Ratzenberger and Senna.

More protection around the helmet, new head and neck restraints, and tethers for the wheels. It was in fact the wheel detaching from the car with it’s attached suspension that hit Ayrton in the head causing horrific and fatal injuries.

I visited Imola just a few months later to pay my respects, and take it all in – it was an emotional place then with the track lined by flowers, and still today.

Formula One has never been safer, thanks to the legacy of Ratzenberger and Senna, it’s tragic we didn’t get to see what they could have done next.