Not an Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix, but an episode of ‘The Paddock’. Not much to say about last weekend’s race. Logical, because the event was canceled due to the storm in the northern Italian region. But that didn’t stop Dennis Xhaët and Sam Dejonghe from inviting Roland Bruynseraede. Their guest gave his unvarnished opinion on Formula 1 in 2023, telling how he endured one of the darkest weekends in motorsport history as part of race control.
Consensus in The Paddock: everyone is sorry that the race in Imola is cancelled. Finally, the drivers got to compete on a traditional track again. Next week, the royal class of motorsport will travel to Monaco. Another street circuit. The fifth already this season, if we count the Australian GP. It also looks like the canceled race will not be replaced. The calendar is overcrowded. And Roland Bruynseraede also sees this, who is a guest in the F1 podcast. He made it from ticket cutter, and later track commissioner, to race director and safety officer in Formula 1. Bruynseraede is therefore the ideal man to give his opinion on what the sport currently looks like.
“Due to the cancellation, the teams have another less chance to get closer to Red Bull”
“The blackest weekend of Formula 1”
Roland Bruynseraede tells first-hand how the tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix unfolded. The former race director saw from the front row how the weekend ended with the death of two Formula 1 drivers. “That black page already started on Friday,” said Bruynseraede in his reconstruction of the weekend. “Barrichello crashed into the guardrail and flew into the empty grandstand, but luckily he was unharmed. On Saturday during qualifying, Ratzenberger had a serious accident.” Ultimately, the Austrian racing driver died of his injuries in hospital. “Senna died in an accident on Sunday,” concludes Bruynseraede. The San Marino GP would go down in history as one of the blackest racing weekends to date.
Bruynseraede, who was then responsible for the safety of the circuit, among other things, immediately knew how serious it was when Senna crashed. He remembers well what happened next. “I had to leave Italy as soon as possible because the finger was immediately pointed at several people.” He himself was also not unaffected and was charged by the Italian authorities. One day after the race, Het Laatste Nieuws published an article entitled ‘Bruynseraede responsible for Senna’s death’. “I never felt guilty,” he says honestly, “but that article hurt me”.
Although Bruynseraede witnessed what happened that weekend, he also experienced many great moments during his period in Formula 1. According to him, every race weekend was an experience. “It was hard work, but it was always satisfying.” Bruynseraede spontaneously thinks back to the start of the season that traditionally took place in Brazil. “We were already on site on Tuesday or Wednesday and then a party was given. We often stayed late at the bar,” laughs Bruynseraede, who likes to think back to his time in Formula 1.