Mosley says Williams has nothing to fear : MOTOR RACING

MOTOR RACING

BY DERICK ALLSOP

Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, motor sport's governing body, and a lawyer, offered words of comfort yesterday to Frank Williams, who admits he awaits with trepidation the official report on Ayrton Senna's fatal crash. "I don't think there should be any trepidation," Mosley said.

"The report may blame somebody or people, but even if that's the case I am quite sure there could not be any moral blame and I don't believe there is any possibility of Frank being jailed."

The threat of a manslaughter charge has hung over Williams since Senna's death, driving a Williams-Renault, in the San Marino Grand Prix, at Imola, on 1 May last year but the potential repercussions have concerned every team in Formula One.

Clearly, if teams feel they can be held liable for accidents on certain tracks, they will have to reconsider their commitment to a full calendar. The sport could be thrown into chaos. That scenario troubles Mosley and he is already considering ways of protecting the teams.

He said: "It could make us look at where we race and the circumstances under which we race. If teams are going to be sued when there are accidents we need to look at the system."

Mosely is also perturbed that, under Italian law, Senna's car had to be held in that country for examination, preventing Williams and other teams perhaps learning vital safety lessons.

"It is extremely unsatisfactory because there could have been something that we all wanted to know," Mosley said.

It is expected the report will conclude that the steering column of Senna's car broke. Mosley took the opportunity to maintain that the removal of driver aids from the cars did not contribute to last season's accidents.

"The irony there is that I have a Christmas card, which I framed, sent me by Senna at the end of 1992 in which he asked me to ban these devices. After he died, I got a card accusing me of killing him by taking away the aids."

Despite Senna's death, and that of Roland Ratzenberger the previous day at Imola, Mosley suggests Formula One's record puts the danger into perspective.

In the 1960s, he said, one in 10 accidents resulted in injury or fatality. Now the ratio is one in 300.

Mosley admitted a large majority of the teams were against continuing with refuelling in races this year, but without a unanimous vote against - Ferrari are in favour - it cannot be outlawed. Mosley, in any case, believes refuelling deserves an extended trial.

He said: "It is going to be safer to refuel a Formula One car in a race than for you to go down to your petrol station and fill up your car there. Theoretically the new system is totally foolproof, and theoretically, if there is a fire, teams will be prepared and no one will be hurt. But if I said there won't be a fire, that would be tempting fate."

Mosley said there would be more stringent checks on fuel, electronics and bodywork to uncover any flouting of regulations.

He played down the spectre of deliberate cheating but conceded that the sport needed credibility after the controversies of last season, which culminated in the collision which decided the championship in favour of Michael Schumacher rather than Damon Hill.

"My hope," he said, "is that we have a season where no one is hurt, and where three or four people are competing for the championship, and I think there is a good chance of both these things happening."

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