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When Jos Verstappen Cryptically Confirmed Ayrton Senna’s Accusations He Made Two Weeks Before He Died in Imola

Anirban Aly Mandal

When Jos Verstappen Cryptically Confirmed Ayrton Senna’s Accusations He Made Two Weeks Before He Died in Imola

Three-time World Champion Ayrton Senna kickstarted the shockwaves in the 1994 season by switching from McLaren to Williams in the very same campaign where electronic driver aids such as traction control were outlawed by the FIA. Senna, however, was convinced that Benetton didn’t stop using them. And Jos Verstappen – Benetton driver at the time – all but confirmed the same.

In a 2019 episode of Beyond the Grid podcast, host Tom Clarkson asked Jos Verstappen if Senna’s allegations were true. The Dutchman replied,

“I definitely didn’t have it. Of course I know all the rumors but I cannot prove anything. But one thing I can say is I didn’t have it.” 

Verstappen’s reply prompted Clarkson to break into a laugh. The former wasn’t the only driver at Benetton that year, and what he told Clarkson suggested that his teammate, Michael Schumacher, could have been using traction control.

At the 1994 Pacific GP, Senna retired from the race because of a collision. But instead of returning to the Williams garage, he sat on the wall next to where he crashed. Why? Because he wanted to listen to the cars and figure out if they were using traction control. After about 10 laps, he was sure that the Benetton was illegal.

Senna would not live to see his accusations make any changes in the paddock. Just two weeks after the Pacific GP, the Sao-Paolo-born driver tragically lost his life following a crash in Imola. But before that, he was in the mix for winning the World Championship, and his title rival was none other than Schumacher.

Ayrton Senna moved to Williams in 1994 because McLaren failed to provide him with a title-winning car the previous two seasons. Unfortunately, without traction control, the car was very difficult to drive. This irked him massively, as he was convinced that Benetton and Schumacher were having it easier by still using the outlawed aids.

How controversial was Michael Schumacher’s first F1 title?

After Ayrton Senna’s tragic passing, Michael Schumacher assumed the role of Championship Leader. Eventually, he would go on to win his first World Championship in 1994. But it was shrouded with many controversies.

Schumacher got a two-race ban after the British GP for overtaking Damon Hill on the formation lap. He then refused to serve the stop-and-go penalty, leading to the officials waving a black flag (he was disqualified).

Furthermore, he ran an illegal plank under his car at the Belgian GP for which he was once again, disqualified.

Because of these bans, Damon Hill (who was Ayrton Senna’s teammate) had given himself a very good shot at winning the Title. The fight came down to the final race of the season in Adelaide. All Hill had to do was finish ahead of Schumacher, who was leading by just one point.

However, the race ended in huge controversy. Schumacher made a mistake and Hill tried to overtake him after which the former abruptly moved back on track to crash into the Briton’s Williams. Both drivers had to retire from the race. And Schumacher became the World Champion.

In the aftermath, the fact that Schumacher deliberately took his rival out, became common belief within the F1 paddock.

Post Edited By:Somin Bhattacharjee

About the author

Anirban Aly Mandal

Anirban Aly Mandal


Anirban Aly Mandal is an F1 writer at The SportsRush, with over 1000 articles under his belt, Anirban's love for F1 started when he discovered a copy of F1 2014 on his computer. With over half a decade's worth of time spent religiously following the sport, he’s dived deep into the world of motorsports. However, Anirban's expertise goes beyond just writing - he has also written several academic papers focused on the domain of motorsports and the law. His passion for the sport is so immense that he aspires to work as a legal advisor in the most prestigious racing series in the world someday. When it comes to Formula 1, Anirban finds great pleasure in re-watching classic races and idolizes the likes of Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, and Sebastian Vettel. His top picks include Brazil '91, Silverstone '92, and Germany '19. Outside of the sport, Anirban is an avid sim racer, often found racing on titles like Assetto Corsa, F1 22, and Automobilista. Apart from his interests in gaming, Anirban has a keen interest in philosophy, literature and music.

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