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Senna accident still haunts Newey

ESPN Staff
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Ayrton Senna on track during the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix © Sutton Images
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Red Bull technical director Adrian Newey says Ayrton Senna's fatal accident at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix still haunts him to this day.

Newey was the chief designer of the car in which Senna died in on May 1, 1994, when he crashed at the the Tamburello corner at Imola. Newey, along with technical director Patrick Head and team principal Frank Williams, were acquitted of culpable homicide charges by Italian courts in the following years, but Newey said the accident still plays on his mind.

"What happened that day, what caused the accident, still haunts me to this day," he told BBC Sport in an interview set to be aired on Five Live.

There are several theories behind the accident, including low tyre pressures, bumps on the entrance to the corner and the failure of the steering column, which had been modified from the original design to allow Senna more space in the cockpit. Italian prosecutors unsuccessfully argued the steering column theory in court and the definitive reason for the crash remains a mystery.

"The steering column failure, was it the cause, or did it happen in the accident?" he said. "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.

"The car oversteered initially and Ayrton caught that and only then did it go straight. But the first thing that happened was oversteer, in much the same way as you will sometimes see on a superspeedway in the States - the car will lose the rear, the driver will correct, and then it will go straight and hit the outside wall, which doesn't appear to be consistent with a steering-column failure."

Newey said he still regrets failing to produce a race-winning car for Senna after significant regulation changes between 1993 and 1994.

"I guess one of the things that will always haunt me is that he joined Williams because we had managed to build a decent car for the previous three years and he wanted to be in the team he thought built the best car - and unfortunately that '94 car at the start of the season wasn't a good car.

"Ayrton's raw talent and determination... he tried to carry that car and make it do things it really wasn't capable of. And it just seems such a shame and so unfair he was in that position. And then, of course, by the time we did get the car sorted, he wasn't with us any longer."

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