The carnage, shattered car, the rescue and medical teams fighting to save the lives of the helpless drivers.

It provoked memories, too, of the day in 1990 our Martin Donnelly so nearly died in Spain, his Lotus Lamborghini smashed to pieces against the Armco barriers at Jerez, his seemingly lifeless body lying on the track still attached to the car’s seat.

Against all odds, the Ulsterman, then 26 and just beginning his Formula One career, survived although he was never to race a grand prix car again.

But that crash during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix has been brought back into focus by the Wheldon tragedy and by the film ‘Senna’ which tracks the life and death of one of motor racing’s most charismatic characters, Ayrton Senna.

Unknown to many people, the Donnelly crash had a huge effect on Senna and in the aftermath, according to the man who did so much to save Donnelly’s life, Professor Sid Watkins, F1’s revered former medical chief, if the maverick triple World champion had followed his head rather than his heart he might still be alive today.

Prof Watkins was a close friend and confidante of Senna and in his book, ‘Life at the Limit’, he revealed that the Brazilian had sought him out the day after and talked about the techniques used to keep Martin alive. He also talked about quitting.

But he didn’t and instead went back on track to set the 50th pole position of his career.

None of this Donnelly knew. He was fighting for his life in a Seville hospital. Later he was flown back to London and remained in a medically-induced coma for six weeks.

But he was to learn about Senna’s responses and reactions as he gradually recovered from his massive injuries although, even today, the limp and the hoarse voice that remain are tangible reminders of that terrible day 23 years ago.

Martin has seen the widely acclaimed film ‘Senna – No Fear. No Limits. No Equal’ and was surprised to find the makers have drawn on his accident to reveal a side of Senna that, perhaps, only Prof Watkins would have known.