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.”