IMOLA Italy (Reuters) - Fans and Formula One drivers past and present marked the 20th anniversary of the death of Ayrton Senna on Thursday at the Italian circuit where the triple champion crashed 20 years ago.
Hundreds paid their respects with a minute's silence at the Tamburello corner at 2.17 p.m., the moment the Brazilian's Williams ploughed into the wall while leading the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
Austrian rookie Roland Ratzenberger had died the previous day when he crashed during qualifying and the two remain the last driver fatalities during a grand prix weekend.
The circuit near Bologna was opened to the public with tribute events scheduled in Imola, including a memorial football match and the naming of a square, over the next four days.
A mass, attended by Ratzenberger's parents, was held on Wednesday night.
"It's so emotional for us because it's a long time and still the love from the people is very alive," Senna's niece Paula, representing the family, told Reuters Television.
"It seems like Ayrton is living inside people's hearts, so it's beautiful."
Current Ferrari drivers Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen, as well as Senna's former McLaren team mate Gerhard Berger, were among those present at the track and social media was flooded with messages.
"I think Senna set the standard for all drivers and he was definitely the best of his generation," said double world champion Alonso.
Senna's favorite Sao Paulo soccer team Corinthians donned replicas of his distinctive yellow, green and black helmet before the start of a Cup match against Nacional in Manaus on Wednesday.
(Writing by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)