Michael Schumacher couldn't drive without picturing his own death at every turn after F1 icon Ayrton Senna's deadly crash

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Michael Schumacher couldn't drive without picturing his own death at every turn after F1 icon Ayrton Senna's deadly crash
The two drivers were competing for the world championship when the crash happened. Mark Sandten/Bongarts/Getty Images and Pascal Rondeau/Getty Images
  • Michael Schumacher was unable to drive without thinking about his own death following Ayrton Senna's fatal crash.
  • The seven-time F1 champion said that soon after the crash he kept spotting places on race tracks where he could be killed.
  • Senna was killed at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, an event that changed Formula One forever.

Michael Schumacher said he was unable to drive without picturing his own death in the aftermath of Ayrton Senna's fatal crash in 1994.

The German driver was racing for Benetton and challenging Senna for the world title when the Brazilian came off the track at the San Marino Grand Prix on May 1, 1994.

The 34-year-old was airlifted to hospital, but died from his injuries the same day.

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Unaware of his rival's condition, Schumacher and the other drivers resumed the race and the future world champion went on to win.

Michael Schumacher couldn't drive without picturing his own death at every turn after F1 icon Ayrton Senna's deadly crash
Senna was killed at the Imola circuit in Italy. Alberto Pizzoli/Sygma/Sygma via Getty Images

Speaking during a new Netflix documentary based on his life, Schumacher said he initially refused to believe Senna had died.

"We went up to the podium. [Flavio Briatore, Benetton team principal] told us 'He's in a coma' but a coma can be many things.

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"It can just be something that is going to be okay the next day or very bad. But you don't judge it and because you still don't believe that there is something particular or very dangerous or very heavy, you don't believe it.

Schumacher said that he first realised something was very seriously wrong when Benetton's engineering director Tom Walkinshaw told him things were looking "very" bad a couple of hours after the race.

"I thought 'No! He's in a coma but coma doesn't mean anything bad.'

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"He said: 'No, it looks not too good' and then somebody came to me later and said: 'He's dead.'"

Schumacher said that at this point there was some confusion in the paddock as to whether Senna was actually dead.

"There was so little information at this time, that you didn't know what you should think about this," he said in the documentary.

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"I still didn't believe that he was dead. I just couldn't think of that at that point. I just thought 'No, he's going to be the champion.'"

Michael Schumacher couldn't drive without picturing his own death at every turn after F1 icon Ayrton Senna's deadly crash
Increased safety measures were brought in as a result of Senna's death. Clive Mason - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

After it became clear that Senna was dead, Schumacher said he was unable to drive for a long time without being reminded of his own mortality.

"The worst was really the two weeks after this. Once I really had to accept that he is dead. This was just something crazy.

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"At Silverstone, I went there and you suddenly saw many things with different eyes. I went around with a road car and I just thought: 'This is a point you could be dead, this is a point you could be dead.'

"I thought 'Crazy, you always tested here, you always raced here.' But there are so many points you can crash and you can be immediately dead. That's the only thing I was thinking of."

"That was something very strange," he said.

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The new documentary, which charts Schumacher's rise to becoming one of the greatest drivers the sport has even seen also includes illuminating details about his ruthless competitiveness, and the revelation that he almost went skydiving instead of skiing on the day he was severely injured in a ski crash.

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