Connect with us
  • 2
    Shares

Adrian Newey – most successful Formula One car designer, current chief technical officer of the Red Bull Racing, has reveals the new details of the modification made to Ayrton Senna’s Williams FW16 ahead his fatal crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, and says he still feels “guilty” about his death.

Newey was chief designer at Williams when the three-time world champion was killed in a crash during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, he recalled the moment of crash in his autobiography “How to Build a Car”, published this week by Harper Collins.

Newey and Patrick Head, Williams technical director at the time, were prosecuted in Italy for manslaughter. The prosecution claimed a poorly manufactured modification to the steering column had caused it to fracture and break at the crucial moment.

Williams said all the data pointed to a driver mistake caused by Senna pushing too hard over bad bumps in a corner made more challenging than normal by the handling problems the car was suffering from at the time.

After 13 years of on-off trials, the Italian Supreme Court finally ruled that the accident was caused by steering column failure, for which Head was found responsible. He was not arrested as the case had passed the statute of limitations.

Senna’s steering column had been changed to improve his driving position. Newey drew up the plans to relocate the steering column and decrease its diameter at one point. He described the changes as “two very bad pieces of engineering” which “Patrick [Head] and I were responsible for”.

Following the crash Williams made tests of their steering column design. They found that despite the reduction in diameter and a fatigue crack on the shaft, the column was still useful.

However, Newey says he still feels “guilty” about the fatal crash. “I was one of the senior officers in a team that designed a car in which a great man was killed,” he said.

“Regardless of whether that steering column caused the accident or not, there is no escaping the fact that it was a bad piece of design that should never have been allowed to get on the car.”

“What I feel the most guilt about, though, is not the possibility that steering column failure may have caused the accident, because I don’t think it did, but the fact that I screwed up the aerodynamics of the car, I messed up the transition from active suspension [in 1993] back to passive and designed a car that was aerodynamically unstable, in which Ayrton attempted to do things the car was not capable of doing.”

“Whether he did or didn’t get a puncture, his taking the inside, faster-but-bumpier line in a car that was aerodynamically unstable would have made the car difficult to control, even for him” said Newey

If Senna would have just stepped out of his Williams on Sunday, Roland Ratzenberger’s accident would have been much better remembered in the world of Formula 1. Ratzenberger was the first driver to lose his life at a Formula 1 event since Riccardo Paletti crashed into the stalled Ferrari of Didier Pironi at Montreal. His car caught fire, while Paletti was trapped inside. After this horrific accident, 12 years would pass without a fatality during a Grand Prix weekend.

Ratzenberger’s accident happened just yards from where the next day, Ayrton would have his fatal crash. In qualifying, Roland ran over the kerb at the Acque Minerali Chicane and it is believed the impact damaged his front wing. He was unable to control the car at the Villeneuve curve when the front wing separated and went under the car. The car hit the concrete wall at the Villeneuve corner travelling just under 315 kilometres an hour. Ratzenberger didn’t stand a chance. The survival cell of his car was largely undamaged, but Roland had sustained a basal skull fracture with the force of the ‘head on’ impact.

“I will always feel a degree of responsibility for Ayrton’s death but not culpability” Newey added. “The fact that the [Roland] Ratzenberger case had been so easily swept under the carper left me suspicious that Passarini’s principal motivation might be personal glory and notoriety.”

Comments

Latest Results




Latest F1 News

2018 F122 hours ago

F1 teams worried about Brexit crisis

2SharesF1 teams admit they are worried about the Brexit crisis that is occurring in Britain. After British people voted in...

2018 F122 hours ago

‘I have mixed feelings’ about Kubica return – Vettel

2SharesSebastian Vettel says he has “mixed feelings” about Robert Kubica’s return to formula one. Former grand prix winner Kubica, now...

2018 F122 hours ago

Monza seeking EUR 100m for upgrade

2SharesMonza is looking for EUR 100 million to upgrade the Italian grand prix venue and secure a new grand prix...

2018 F12 days ago

Sirotkin to test DTM, Hartley to Porsche

2SharesSergey Sirotkin could keep his motor racing career alive in the German touring car series DTM. SMP Racing, his Russian...

2018 F12 days ago

McLaren not ‘copying’ Red Bull car – Sainz

2SharesCarlos Sainz has played down claims McLaren is ‘copying’ Red Bull’s chassis concept for 2019. With Red Bull moving to...

2018 F12 days ago

Barcelona hopes for new F1 contract

2SharesOrganisers of the Spanish grand prix are still not sure they will reach a new agreement with Liberty Media. Vicenc...

2018 F13 days ago

Berger sees F1 chance for nephew Auer

2Shares is hoping his nephew may have a future in formula one. One the one hand, the F1 legend said...

2018 F13 days ago

Hamilton teammate Bottas ‘is not there’ – Verstappen

2SharesMax Verstappen has admitted he will try to emulate Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes’ approach to winning the world championship. The...

2018 F13 days ago

Mexico GP future in doubt

2SharesA cloud has moved above the future of the highly popular Mexican grand prix. The rejuvenated race at the iconic...

2018 F13 days ago

“I did not lose confidence in myself at any time,” – Carlos Sainz

2SharesCarlos Sainz says he will do his best to “lead” McLaren from the cockpit in 2019. The Spaniard is moving...




Most Popular

ThisisF1.com is not affiliated with Formula 1, Formula One Management, Formula One Administration, Formula One Licensing BV, Formula One World Championship Ltd or any other organization or entity associated with the official Formula One governing organizations or their shareholders. Copyrighted material used under Fair Use/Fair Comment.

References
We could use the following leading F1 news sources for stories: SkyF1, BBC F1, Autosport, ESPN F1, FIA Media Center, MotorSport, JamesAllen and others leading authors blog.

All Rights Reserved © 2017 Prime Sport Media