Bull riding, boxing, football—these are some of the most dangerous sports today. Yet there’s something just as intimidating—possibly even more so—than getting into a ring or hopping on a bull: that’s getting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car. If there’s one thing the motorsport has that’s crazier than the rest, it’s that the cars go as fast as 200 mph (Jalopnik).
Ayrton Senna, one of the best—if not the best— in the history of Formula 1 even once admitted, “Because I believe in God and have faith in God, it doesn't mean I am immortal. It doesn’t mean I am immune, as has been claimed. I am as scared as anyone of getting hurt, especially driving a Formula One car” (Brainy Quote). For someone who managed to win 41 Formula 1 races, Senna didn't let his pride get in the way of honesty (ayrtonsenna.com).
Sadly, Senna passed away in 1994 while racing at the Imola circuit (Vice). As a result, the sport was never the same again. While the sport continues on today, attracting more fans each year, many look back on particular eras that stand out the most to them.
While many look at the 1960s and 1980s as noteworthy eras for Formula 1, the 1990s marked a turning point, largely due to Senna's sudden and tragic passing. Bright sides of the era, however, have to be Senna winning two world championships in ’90 and ’91 in the first half. The latter half capped off with Mika Häkkinen winning two world championships for McLaren.
We’re going to look at behind the scenes photos in Formula 1 from the 1990s, which many think was the golden era of the popular motorsport.
This photo perfectly sums up a legendary moment in Formula 1’s long and rich history. Here stands Michael Schumacher who, according to Vice, not only failed to give Jacques Villeneuve enough room on the track but went so far as to run into him. It ultimately led Schumacher to sit out and watch the race from the sidelines. In the blink of an eye, an entire race Formula 1 race can change.
“I have been in Formula One for 12 years,” Schumacher once said. “And out of that I had one year with the perfect car” (Brainy Quote). So many things have to go in a driver’s favor for him to come out victorious.
18 Footwork Pit Crew
Part of the appeal of watching Formula 1 isn’t just seeing the race, but also witnessing the team behind the cars. They have lots of pressure on them to maintain the vehicles and get them running as best as possible to survive the wear and tear a race can inflict upon them.
According to Panathinaeos, this is the Footwork team working to maintain the car in a lively pit stop. Many are looking on with intensity, while others appear to be raising what looks like pit guns, perhaps signaling to the driver. It’s a job that requires coordination and focus at the highest level.
17 Formula 1 Engines
Many Formula 1 fans today lament how the sport has changed when they compare it to certain eras, such as the 1990s. Back then, in the opinion of sites like Panathinaeos, the engines sounded fuller. The author argues that the engines have lost something and don’t sound as loud. It may not seem like a major loss on the surface, but that’s something that can vastly change a viewer’s experience.
Formula 1 fans who didn’t get to experience engines back then may not realize what they’re missing out on today and accept the sport as it is, while the veterans long for older days.
16 Andrea Moda
Formula 1 fans and non-fans alike will get a kick out of this one. This image here of the Andrea Moda team in 1992 perfectly sums up their season, which deserves all the ridicule and raised eyebrows it’s attracted over the years since. ESPN reports that the team once had an engine die on the 12th lap of a race. It was just one of several snafus to affect the team, which had a limited budget.
It may have all been due to the team’s owner, Andrea Sassetti. The driver Alex Caffi, as per the same source, once called Sassetti “a crazy man.”
15 Alain Prost
One aspect of the motorsport that’s necessary for drivers is speaking with the press. Journalists, reporters and other news outlets have access to drivers and teams, so it’s only natural they ask them questions about their careers. The site Panathinaeos confirms that Alain Prost, who was on Williams in 1993 at the time of this photo, is in the center. It looks as if reporters managed to form a mob around him and are likely hounding him for information while taking his photo.
He doesn’t look thrilled, but at the same time is giving them his undivided attention like a true professional.
14 Formula Fans
Formula 1 wouldn’t be the motorsport it is today without its fans showing up, through the good eras and the bad. Here’s a group of fans hunkered down on a hillside of tall grass in what the caption for the album notes is from 1994. There may not be bleachers or padded seats present, but this plot is sufficient for watching cars go at breakneck speeds.
Unfortunately, this was a tough year for Formula 1 as it saw the passing of Ayrton Senna, one of the sport’s best drivers in history; he passed away due to a crash in May of that year.
Cars in motorsports aren’t like the regular ones people drive to work, go on road trips with or run errands in. Drivers push these cars to the limit, forcing teams to maintain them as best as they can throughout the typical two hour race time. Here’s a car that didn’t make it to the end of the race. The site Panathinaeos reports that it was Ukyo Katayama’s car, which they appear to have raised on top of a transportation vehicle.
Acting like a Formula 1 stretcher, the vehicle underneath picks up wounded cars and takes them away from the track to get fixed up.
12 Presentation Of Flags
Like NASCAR and other motorsports, there’s often a lot of fanfare that comes with the sport. According to the site Panathinaeos, this was the presentation of flags ahead of the 1993 Formula 1 Grand Prix. The same source notes that it’s from the Spanish Grand Prix that took place at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain. This was a great year during a great era in Formula 1, which has seen some major changes over the years since then.
Many think the changes have done little to improve the sport, while others love it just as much. Regardless of where one stands, photos like these are bound to stir up nostalgia in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed it.
11 Ayrton Senna
Part of what makes Formula 1 so appealing to fans are the drivers and pit crews. As Wired points out, they have to suit up in special uniforms that protect them, then get inside uncomfortable cars that can reach high temperatures; then on top of that, they have to win a race. One of the sports’ best drivers, Ayrton Senna, sits in his car as a photographer snaps a close up from afar.
One can see the extent of his focus and how he’s dedicating all his concentration to the task at hand. This is what separates the sports’ best drivers from the rest of the pack.
10 Pit Lane
This photo shows some of the excitement leading right up to the race. According to Panathinaeos, this photo took place on May 9, 1993, and shows Riccardo Patrese getting into position. The whole team is around the car and driver as the last t’s get crossed and i’s dotted. So much work rests on the team’s shoulders. While they still have work to do during the race, the outcome largely rests with the driver at that point.
There is other personnel in white shirts on the track who are likely there to supervise things in the pit lane. The same source notes that Patrese in 1993 was part of Benetton-Ford and managed to qualify with sixth place.
9 Racing Takes A Toll
More goes into motorsports than viewers often see on the surface. There’s a lot of planning, preparation, and downtime before and after the races. This not only takes a physical toll on drivers but can have a mental impact as well, leading to stress or fatigue.
According to the site Panathinaeos, the driver featured here who’s got his head buried is Derek Warwick. The same source notes that he was part of team Footwork at the time of this photo back in 1993. Someone standing next to him looks on at the race track, while a piece of a car sits on the ground in the background.
8 Senna And Schumacher
Sports and champagne go together whenever a victor occurs. Two notable figures of the sport are together in this photo, which the site Ditpub’s Blog confirms took place at the 1992 Italian Grand Prix Podium. Pictured here is Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher. Schumacher was an exceptional driver who’s known for his ties to Ferrari and even managed to win five championships in a row, according to ESPN.
While he managed to find success on the race track, the same source notes that he often looked for shortcuts or ways to exploit the rules in an attempt to look for whatever edge he could get.
7 Damon Hill
Not the most exciting snap from a Formula 1 event, but one that shows the commotion that often comes with it. Standing in the center of the frame, as identified by Panathinaeos, is Damon Hill. He managed to qualify in second place, which was possible by way of the Williams-Renault FW15C.
According to the same source, Hill managed to go far thanks to this car throughout 1993. This car was a technical marvel and deserves a lot of credit for getting Hill into the annals of Formula 1. Here he looks to be focusing intently on something while speaking to members of the team.
6 Michael Schumacher
If there’s another Formula 1 driver who’s either at or near the top of the list of all-time greats, it’s Michael Schumacher. Even more than his accomplishments on the track, he's also one of the highest paid athletes as well (Encyclopedia.com).
According to Essentially Sports, this photo shows Schumacher in 1997. It was a particularly rough year for the driver, considering he got disqualified in the championship, which comes by way of Encyclopedia.com. Schumacher once said, as per Brainy Quote, “To control 800 horsepower relying just on arm muscles and foot sensitivity can turn out to be a dangerous exercise.”
This may not look as exciting as a Formula 1 race, but this shows an important part of what goes on behind the scenes. The site Panathinaeos reports that it’s the Ligier-Renault drivers during Saturday tests in the buildup to the race. With so many factors involved with racing in Formula 1, teams have a lot on their plates to make sure nothing gets overlooked.
Any last minute changes or tweaks could not only determine the race but also affect a driver’s safety. This phase of the competition may not look very thrilling, but it lays down the necessary groundwork for the race.
This photo shows one of the perks of going to a Formula 1 event and being part of the VIP. The site Panathinaeos reports that the two posing with members of team Footwork are VIP guests. In the background, one can see a Formula 1 car.
There are some onlookers and others passing through, along with what appears to be a couple of security guards on the left. Unlike a basketball arena or football stadium, Formula 1 actually opens up its pit areas to fans who want to get a closer look, as long as they're in the VIP section.
3 Rubens Barrichello
Pit crews in Formula 1 have to work fast. The one seen here is working at a race in 1993. One can see all the tools and swapped out tires sitting on the pavement within reach of the crew. The site Panathinaeos reports that the driver in the car is Rubens Barrichello. He didn’t do so hot in this race though, as he came in twelfth place.
The same source points out that he had a good run years later from 2000 to 2005. During that era with Ferrari, Michael Schumacher was his teammate, who was one of the best drivers to come out of the motorsport.
2 Senna Getting Ready
Here’s Ayrton Senna, one of the biggest names to come out of Formula 1. According to Panathinaeos, this photo from the 1993 Grand Prix shows Senna in what appears to be the pit lane. He’s surrounded by his team while either fans or those with the press linger around the fringes of a barrier fence. This was the year before Senna lost his life, thus changing the motorsport forever.
The same source notes that Senna had trouble with the car’s engine this year, which was a V8 Ford. He was part of McLaren-Ford at the time, though it wasn’t one of the team’s finer moments.
1 On The Fritz
This photo emphasizes the dangers involved with Formula 1, which highlights the courage of drivers. According to Road and Track, this car belonged to Michael Andretti and helps paint a picture of how his year was in 1993 when this photo took place. The same source reports that this crash occurred in Brazil when the car collided with the tires lining the side of the track.
There are even photos showing the crash and several tires flying up in the air. This photo shows the aftermath when a group works to remove what remains left of the wreckage off the field.
Sources: Jalopnik, Vice, ayrtonsenna.com, Brainy Quote, Encyclopedia.com, ESPN, Motorsport Magazine, Wired, Ditpub’s Blog, Road and Track, Panathinaeos