Newey doubts cause of Senna crash will ever be known

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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.”

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”