Motor racing: Williams to face judges

Frank Williams said yesterday he will appear before Italian judges next month to face a manslaughter charge arising out of the death of Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Although the hearing could be heard in his absence, the wheelchair-bound head of the Williams team said he would be present. "I will be there and I will be defending my company and myself," Williams said while attending the announcement of a new sponsorship deal.

He declined to talk about details of the case which is expected to be heard some time in February at Imola.

Williams and five other members of the team have been charged with manslaughter following Senna's death at Imola after his Renault-Williams car hit a wall after failing to take a bend.

The manslaughter charge arises out of allegations that the steering column on Senna's car may have been badly rewelded after the driver had asked for it to be shortened so he could have a better view of his instrument panel.

There is speculation that the steering column snapped and Senna crashed into the wall suffering fatal head injuries.