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Newey doubts cause of Senna crash will ever be known

Oct 2, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

F1 Grand Prix of Singapore - Practice Getty Images

The cause of Ayrton Senna’s fatal crash in 1994 will never be truly be known, according to the man who designed the car he was driving.

Red Bull chief technical officer Adrian Newey worked for Williams in 1994 and designed the FW16 which Senna was at the wheel of when it inexplicably veered off the track during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Senna died after his car struck a wall on the outside of the Tamburello corner and part of his front suspension penetrated his crash helmet.

A lengthy investigation after the race focused on a broken steering column as the potential cause of the crash. But Newey, who was cleared along with other Williams team members, said it was possible to know whether or not it was broken before the impact.

“The steering column failure, was it the cause, or did it happen in the accident?” said Newey in an interview with the BBC.

“There is no doubt it was cracked. Equally, all the data, all the circuit cameras, the on-board camera from Michael Schumacher’s car that was following, none of that appears to be consistent with a steering-column failure.”

Newey admitted Senna’s death “still haunts me to this day”. Williams were struggling with their car at the beginning of 1994 but ultimately got on top of the problems and won the constructors’ championship, while Senna’s team mate Damon Hill lost the drivers’ championship following a controversial collision with Schumacher.

“It just seems such a shame and so unfair he [Senna] was in that position,” reflected Newey. “And then, of course, by the time we did get the car sorted, he wasn’t with us any longer.”

  1. indycarseries500 - Oct 2, 2013 at 12:41 PM

    Driver error, I don’t get why most won’t accept that it is the most likely explaination. It was an iffy car and he was trying to get too much out of it. He made mistakes all the time including the Brazilian GP a few weeks before. Is there a more accident prone World Champion?

  2. wallio - Oct 2, 2013 at 1:15 PM

    Amen. He simply overcooked it. Period. I don’t understand why we can’t talk about that, or the fact he won the World Championship despite his teammate having more points. Then he tried to kill Prost twice, and admitted it. But nope, he was a god, and clearly the car broke. Nevermind that the steering column certainly would shatter with that sort of impact. Nope, Newey killed him. SMH.

    • planegazer - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      Ahh the haters… always funny to see their rants.

      He simply “overcooked it” says this expert, while a true expert like Newey says “no-one will know”.

      Yes, Senna won ONE of his championships with less points than Prost… so what? Those were the rules, and they were designed to reward wins over consistency. Senna won more races that year, and got the championship. Plain and simple. And he won two more championships with more points than the rest of the field. Funny how this is an issue when talking about Senna, but not when talking about, for example, John Surtees, whose one and only championship was won with less points than Graham Hill. I dare you to say he was not a worthy champion.

      But please… don’t let facts get in the way of your rant.

    • indycar02 - Mar 7, 2014 at 8:17 PM

      newey didnt kill him. you got it right the 1st time, he simply overcooked it.

  3. apexassassin - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:41 PM

    Just wow at the level of ignorant posts on this topic.

    No point in even stating the other possibilities … I’ll just say you should revisit the clips and eye-witness testimony before you post such garbage.

    • indycarseries500 - Oct 2, 2013 at 4:56 PM

      I didn’t say driver error was the definite cause, I said it was the most likely explaination even Newey basically says the same thing.

      “There is no doubt it was cracked. Equally, all the data, all the circuit cameras, the on-board camera from Michael Schumacher’s car that was following, none of that appears to be consistent with a steering-column failure.”

      • apexassassin - Oct 3, 2013 at 7:12 PM

        Too many armchair geniuses to even bother with this… most are too young to even comment and get their info 3rd hand or from some half-assed documentary. Sorry but his steering wheel is turned left and the front tire are pointed straight.

        No one is beyond making a mistake or poor decision and his was the same for much of his career… driving on the edge in a dodgey car. Then again, that was also what made him on of the greatest.

        Ps. Fuck Prost.

      • nascarsucks - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:47 PM

        +1 Fuck Prost

  4. planegazer - Oct 3, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    “he tried to kill Prost twice”… lol what a bunch of baloney…

  5. Jeff - Oct 3, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    As good as Senna was, I’d say the accident was caused by a malfunction with the car.
    But what malfunction, as Newey said, will never be known.

    • nascarsucks - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:46 PM

      As good as Senna was, he was quite capable of crashing in to a wall with no one else around.

  6. nascarsucks - Oct 4, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    Senna died from a massive head implosion when he looked in his mirror and saw Schumacher right behind him. He was dead before he hit the wall.

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