This is a great and extremely rare piece of memorabilia. This Brazilian flag has been hand signed by Ayrton Senna after the 1994 Brazil GP.
Ayrton Senna’s debut for Williams at the Brazilian Grand Prix in 1994 had been greatly anticipated. The British team had come off of two drivers’ and constructors’ titles, manufacturing cars which were superior to the competition. And now, they had a great Brazilian three-time champion.
Meanwhile, before the season started in 1994 regulations changed and prohibited the several advancements in electronics which had made Williams unbeatable in previous years. The car was fast, but quite unstable and even the best driver in Formula 1 had trouble controlling it.
The cars’ aerodynamics weren’t the only changes in the 1994 season. There were several shake-ups when it came to drivers: Senna was hired to replace Alain Prost, who had retired from racing at the end of 1993. Ayrton’s teammate was going to be Damon Hill, in his second year as a Williams driver
Benneton, Williams’ main rival, was even stronger than in the previous year. Michael Schumacher stayed with them, but their car – the Benetton-Ford B194 – was the team’s highlight at the beginning of the year. The German would be racing alongside Dutch Jos Verstappen – who would come to be better known as the father of Max Verstappen, who made his F1 debut in 2015, when he was just 17 years old.
Ferrari, with Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, was relegated to a supporting role, well behind the two superpowers, McLaren, dealing with Senna’s exit and the arrival of a new Peugeot engine, was going through a transition period. The team from Woking had Mika Hakkinen and Martin Brundle as drivers, the latter of whom had been Senna’s biggest rival in the 1983 British F3 season.
Ayrton Senna ruled the practice sessions at Interlagos since Friday onwards. The Brazilian was the quickest during the first official qualifying round and secured his pole position on Saturday, with a time of 1min15s962, a few minutes before it started raining over the José Carlos Pace Circuit.
It was the 63rd pole position for Ayrton Senna, who held the record at the time. Michael Schumacher was 0s328 behind him, and would start the race next to the three-time champion. The second row was made up of Jean Alesi and Damon Hill, who was 1s5 slower than his Williams teammate.
On Sunday, Senna started well and remained in the lead until the first pit stop, on lap 21. Benetton’s pit stop, which took place in the same lap, was quicker, and Schumacher took the lead. Williams had trouble refueling, an item that was back in the rulebook after ten years.
In Interlagos, Senna’s Williams skidded a lot on the low speed corners and jumped too high at track surface irregularities, quickly wearing away its tires. And as the Renault engine burned more gasoline than the other engines, refueling took longer.
After the pit stop, Schumacher took the lead and got away from Senna.
On lap 35, something scary happened: a four car pile-up. Jos Verstappen crashed into Eddie Irvine’s Jordan, collided with Eric Bernard’s Ligier and climbed over Martin Brundle’s McLaren, who was almost hit on the head with a piece of the car. Vertappen also flipped over, but everyone walked away unharmed. Irvine ended up being blamed for the accident, because he had literally pushed Vertappen into the grass, prior to the crash.
Meanwhile, Senna tried to get closer to Schumacher. The Brazilian was the only driver still on the same lap as the German. On lap 44, Senna made an early pit-stop, in an attempt to mount an offensive at the end of the race. But on the following lap, Benetton was 1s1 quicker than Williams and the leader kept his place.
After 47 laps, there was a difference of 7s9 seconds between Schumacher and Senna. Ayrton was gradually gaining on the German but, on lap 56, he let the podium-finish slip away, as well as any chance he had of winning. Senna spun-out at the Junction Corner, when he was less than 5s away from his rival. Also, Ayrton was already having gearbox problems and he was not able to shift to the right gear. He tried to put it into third and fourth, but the engine failed. It was the end of the race for Senna. Schumacher got the win, the third in his career. Damon Hill and Jean Alesi rounded out the podium,
“It was frustrating to feel the engine failing because of my own mistake, especially for a home race, at the season opening, starting on pole position and debuting for Williams. I lost the podium which was a guarantee, as I was one full lap ahead of all the other drivers. I wanted to win and had little interest in second place. I took a risk and was taken by surprise.”