Ayrton Saved my Life (English sub) - Erik Comas Interview about his crash and Senna's death at Imola

Uploaded by Cadmuss on 08.01.2011

I had the misfortune of arriving first at that turn and from that moment I don't remember anything because I went straight into the barrier in front.
I have seen the video afterwards, but I don't remember anything.
It's like my memory shut down a few moments before the impact
and the front right wheel hit me in the helmet, which knocked me out.
The car then slid back onto the track but I was still accelerating full throttle
'You mean your foot got stuck on the gas pedal?' Indeed, I was unconscious in the car, but still on full throttle
Ayrton then arrived and immediatly heard the sounds, the revving of the engine which was still revving at 7 to 8000 rpm
'So he stopped his car?'
Yes, he stopped, took off his seatbelt and came running towards me while there were still cars running on track they were slowed down because of the yellow flags of course but the track wasn't clear at all.
He then looked for the short circuit and shut down my car because at that time there was a very real risk of an explosion or fire.
As a consequence of the impact there were some leaks and nobody knows what could have happened.
'In a few seconds it could have exploded?' Yes, it is possible, it's likely Ayrton saved my life at that moment.
'So two years later you find yourself sitting next to him for the pre-race briefing, right?'
Indeed, on May 1st 1994, for the first time in my career I find myself sitting next to him at the driver's briefing.
We were all in a very peculiar state of mind 'Because a lot of things had already happened that weekend?'
Yes, there had been Rubens' crash, the death of Roland (Ratzenberger) the day before.
There was a .... in any case I believe to have felt this with the other drivers as well, we were all in a state of shock, what had happened felt like it was not real
'Did Ayrton also seem particularly touched by these crashes?'
Yes he was very touched, he remarked that something had to be done to prevent this from happening.
However I do not want to lead on to the idea that there was a certain emotional weakness that could be an explanation for Ayrton's accident I do not believe that at all.
We were simply put all traumatised because there would be one of us missing on the grid for the sunday race.
When I came up to the Tamburello corner the medical helicopter, the ambulances, Ayrton's car,... where all already there.
I saw Ayrton was already put on a stretcher so I stopped my car.
You parked your car in front of the helicopter on the track? I was in the middle of the track a few feet away from the drama.
As I arrived I understood that,...there was a message that...Ayrton was a man who sort of radiated and there it felt like an atomic bomb just exploded at Tamburello.
There truly was a very heavy atmosphere hanging over the area and without knowing any details, I knew it was very bad.
A sort of paralysis came over me because there I was standing next to a man who 2 years earlier had saved my life and I couldn't do anything to help him and that felt horrible.
Because he saved my life and I came too late, and i'm not a doctor in any case he was in worst shape than i was, his accident was different to mine.
But to find myself at his side feeling so powerless was such a horrible experience that after 10 years I have only recently been able to talk about it.
It's something I had kept buried inside me for a very long time.
I was the last of the drivers to see him.
It fell on me, and it was hard for me to accept that I had had the honor of the last visit before he went away.
For me, that was really the end of the book on Formula 1.
The race is stopped and an inquiry is launched, in any case that is the law but it hasn't been apllied after Ratzenberger died. Why do you think this law was not applied?
I believe it is because of sport's governing bodies, they knew the law and only they could determine whether Roland died on track that Saturday and take that decision to stop the race.
Unfortunately us drivers had no say in this, and we were informed very late of these events, we only heard about Ayrton's death back at the airport.
It would have been the decent thing to do for the Williams team to retire their second car.
'And what about the flags, the hymnes, the podium celebration, as if nothing had happened?
That was something unacceptable which you have and many others witnessed, I didn't see it, I was already at the airport.
It is true that that was absolutely scandalous. Especially because there was so much hypocrisy around it. Ayrton's medical condition was known at that time.
In any case we are in a sport which is also a business, where there is a show to be given and the governing bodies of the sport try to capitalize on this
This time they have clearly gone way out of line to ensure this.