Just two and a half hours before the fateful San Marino Grand Prix, Senna instigated a move by a group of drivers to ask for a speed restriction in the pit lane at Monaco, on Sunday week. Yesterday, at an emergency meeting called by the sport's governing body, FIA, it was agreed to take action.
As from this blue riband event, the entry and exit of the pit lane will be reshaped to contain the speed of the cars. That should also reduce the number of stops. To minimise congestion in the pits, teams will be
allocated the precise laps on which they can stop by drawing lots. Emergency stops will be allowed but not to take on fuel or tyres. Team personnel would be allowed in the pit-lane area only to work on their cars.
This measure may have no direct connection with the accidents which killed Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at the weekend, but the authorities believe it represents a significant first step in addressing modern safety requirements.
Max Mosley, president of FIA, again dismissed allegations of complacency, claiming Senna had never taken up an
invitation for talks. Mosley felt over-reaction would have served only to create new risks. Cancelling the Monaco Grand Prix and even the rest of the season had been options considered and rejected.
There was, however, a new 'urgency' within the sport and earnest endeavours would be made to reduce power and downforce, the two elements threatening to make Formula One cars too fast. Under development are fuel flow meters, to restrict power, and already agreed for next season are stepped rather than flat bottoms to the cars, which will
reduce downforce, the means of facilitating high cornering speeds, by 30 per cent.
Airbags are under consideration but the main concern is to restrict the movement of the driver's head. Further investigation has been ordered to that end. Mosley challenged all the teams to help achieve the goals.
Senna's Williams-Renault and Ratzenberger's Simtek- Ford are likely to be impounded for at least a month, pending the investigation by the Italian authorities. However, information already
received from the teams and other relevant sources have enabled FIA to build up a picture of last weekend's incidents.
Mosley said that when the pace car pulled off, Senna went through Tamburello at 303kph and that there was a suspicion of a jump in the engine revs. Next time round, on lap seven, with Michael Schumacher on his tail, Senna went into Tamburello at 310kph, only 2kph slower than his speed in qualifying. At that point he lost control and the car went into the concrete wall 'at a strangely steep angle'. Schumacher confirmed the car had 'stepped out'. Mosley said: 'Why he lost control it is not possible to say.'
On the lap before Ratzenberger's crash, the Austrian covered an extra 25 metres. Mosley said: 'The best hypothesis is that he went off, the wing touched something and, on the next lap, under extreme stress, it failed.' Ratzenberger also plunged into a wall, sustaining severe head injuries
Mosley maintained these
accidents, and the one Rubens Barrichello survived on Friday, were unrelated. He stressed the census of opinion had been that tyre barriers were not appropriate at the points where Senna And Ratzenberger crashed. The meeting also considered the accident at the start which resulted in injuries to spectators.
Back in England, Patrick Head, technical director of Williams, denied he had blamed Senna for his accident.
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