Williams fear Senna fall-out

David Tremayne looks at the troubled legal process in the wake of a tragedy

CLAIMS that steering failure killed Ayrton Senna have again fanned the embers of the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola in May last year. The investigating magistrate Maurizio Passarini is at present working through the 600-page report submitted by Professor Enrico Lorenzini, of Bologna University, and his team of specialists.

The team has never denied that the column was modified, at Senna's request, and speaking about the steering column on the Williams car, which photographs had shown lying broken alongside it after the impact, Lorenzini said: "It had been badly welded together about a third of the way down and couldn't stand the strain of the race. We discovered scratches on the crack in the steering rod. It seemed like the job had been done in a hurry but I can't say how long before the race. Someone had tried to smooth over the join following the welding. I have never seen anything like it. I believe the rod was faulty and probably cracked even during the warm-up. Moments before the crash only a tiny piece was left connected and therefore the car didn't respond in the bend."

Serious questions have been raised about the manner in which this long overdue report has been compiled. Students at Bologna University and representatives of other motorsport disciplines have all been granted greater access to the remains of Williams FW16/2 than the men who designed it. Patrick Head, Williams's technical director and a man of unusual integrity, was given 10 minutes with the chassis in a dank garage beneath a grandstand at Imola, shortly after the accident, and a similar length of time later.

Head has voiced concern over the interpretation of data his team supplied to Lorenzini. "We sent some, and were asked to clarify it," he said. "What has been said during the period since the accident does not appear to reflect understanding of what we actually said, even though we were asked to couch the revised version in layman's language." He has also maintained that the car could not have generated the steering inputs revealed by onboard telemetry if the steering column had sheared.

Lorenzini claimed that the tabloid paper which printed his comments last week quoted remarks he made not recently, but early last year. Nevertheless, they still seem remarkably intemperate.

The delay in publishing the report has been scandalous, though similar instances in the past have also revealed the inherent sloth of the Italian system. When Wolfgang von Trips was killed at Monza in the Italian Grand Prix in 1961 for example, following a collision with Jim Clark, it was some years before the innocent Clark felt comfortable in Italy.

Italian law requires identification of those culpable in accidents such as Senna's. Frank Williams, Patrick Head and other Williams team personnel could face charges, but all racing teams hope that, at worst, Passarini would pass suspended sentences. Every entry ticket bears the warning "Motor racing is dangerous". Drivers, more than anyone, understand that. Serious sentences would serve no purpose beyond following to the letter a law regarded as dubious by the standards of most other countries. And they would certainly jeopardise the whole future of grand prix racing in Italy.

Passarini must conclude his deliberations with all decent haste. In November 1994 he told this paper: "Time is marching on. There is no deadline. But we cannot leave this matter for eternity." Twelve months on, patience has all but run out.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are seeking Associate Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - PHP

£33000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Opilio Recruitment: Field Marketing Manage

£25k - 40k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas