At the start of the race, J J Lehto [5th on the grid] stalled his Benetton and Lamy [22nd on the grid] plunged into the back of him. The race was not red flagged but continued under the control of the safety-car, while the debris was cleared. The race completed three tours at the significantly reduced speed.
When the restart came, Senna, timed it to perfection, he backed up the field to a virtual standstill before he accelerated away, leaving them in the distance.
As Senna crossed the finish line at the end of lap six he was 0.6 ahead of Michael Schumacher who had noticed that the Williams had bottomed out on Tamburello corner the previous lap.
BBC Television Commentary
. . . And you hear the engine revs rise as Senna, followed by Schumacher, there is Berger;
We’re on lap six now and the San Marino Grand Prix is go again.
And as before, Schumacher is the chief rival to Ayrton Senna who comes down to the Rivazza.
There’s Berger third, Damon Hill is fourth, Frentzen in the black Sauber is fifth, Mika Hakkinen sixth, Larini seventh, and Karl Wendlinger in the second black Sauber is in eighth position.
Climbing up now – I’m sorry it wasn’t the Rivazza – they’re climbing up now towards the Variante Alte. As they go through the Acque Minerale dropping down to approach it at about 150 miles an hour. And there’s a gap after the second Sauber of Wendlinger; Ukyo Katayama in the Tyrrell is in ninth place; Martin Brundle is in tenth, so he has gained places because Martin Brundle started in thirteenth position on the grid.
What’s really interesting here is that Schumacher is very much keeping up to Senna.
Now from the morning warm-up time, he was two seconds slower than Senna and that raised speculation as to whether he was actually going to make just one stop and therefore race with a much heavier fuel load. If he was going to do that, it really . . . that would slow him down far more than his performance here looks and it looks perhaps that was a Benetton smokescreen.
I’m not quite sure why they were so far off in the warm-up, but he is really not losing much to Senna at all. I would say basically he is right with him.
Well we are right with Michael Schumacher now, and Senna . . . My Goodness!
I just saw him plunge off to the right and Senna has joined Pedro Lamy and J J Lehto in a shattered motorcar.
You can see the debris on the right.
What on Earth happened there, I don’t know.
Whether it was a sudden loss of down force for some reason, but Senna . . . is still in the car.
It means to say of course that Schumacher has gone into the lead, but the important thing is now, how is Ayrton Senna.
With the marshals already waving the yellow flags.
Yes, this looks very severe indeed, I must say.
It looks like . . .er. . . this corner that Senna was going ‘round; it’s absolutely flat out; it’s 185 miles an hour.
And we really should be seeing some medical attention coming quickly here to the Williams with Senna.
His head is . . . er . . . he’s very still in that car.
The car has clearly gone straight on.
It’s a little bit like the accident that beset. . . he really needs help in that car, with nobody coming to him at the moment.
Yes, his head’s moved; I think I just saw his head move a little bit then.
The race has been stopped.
The red flag is out.
It looked a little bit like a problem with the car.
As we said, Berger at this very point four years ago in his Ferrari
And it’s where Nelson Piquet went off in a Williams some years ago in similar circumstances, and thank heavens he was all right.
I must. . . I must say I have concern at the fact that (a) Senna is sitting in the car still, not moving; and (b) surprising there is not a lot of action.
And here it is – now look – going into the left hander, tremendously fast, he runs wide and goes straight off; doesn’t even attempt to take the corner . . . and er . . well I say that’s about 190 miles an hour at that point – the exit from the Tamburello.
They’re still building up speed, but it was not very far short of 200 miles an hour.
Subsequent investigation revealed that the most likely cause of the accident was the car bottoming out on the track due to reduced tyre pressures after the safety-car period.