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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Driver Blames Car for Fatal Senna Crash

IMOLA, Italy -- Italian driver Michele Alboreto told a court he believed Ayrton Senna's fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix was caused by a mechanical problem.


Six men face manslaughter charges after Senna veered off at the Tamburello curve -- team owner Frank Williams, his technical director Patrick Head and chief designer Adrian Newey, along with three race officials.


Alboreto, an experienced ex-Formula One driver, said he believed Senna's crash was caused by the car, as maintained by the prosecution, and not by the track, as indicated by Williams' defense.


Alboreto, called by state prosecutor Maurizio Passarini, said: "I think the cause of [death of] Ayrton Senna was a mechanical failure."


The driver gave his verdict after watching pictures of the crash, re-played in the courtroom. The pictures came from a camera aboard Michael Schumacher's car, which was behind Senna's as the Brazilian tried to take the Tamburello curve.


Alboreto described the bumps on the circuit surface just before the curve, which have been targeted by Williams lawyer Oreste Dominioni, as minor and said they could not have forced the Brazilian's car off the track.


"The situation at Imola was not exceptional," he said. "We've raced in much worse conditions than that."


He went on: "Mechanical failures are normal, given the strain of races. People always aim to go to the limits, but no engineer can ignore safety."


However, Alboreto added: "You can't take the sport to court. It would have been better if the investigation into Senna's crash had been carried out by the sporting world."


Monday's session in the makeshift court began with contradictory claims about two black boxes in the Brazilian's car.


Patrizio Nosco, chief tire mechanic at the race, said he removed two black box data recorders from Senna's car after the crash, after permission from International Automobile Federation delegate Charlie Whiting.


One belonged to Williams, and was designed to record data from the chassis and gearbox, and the other to Renault, for storing information on the V10 engine.


Nosco said that, aside from a few scratches, both were intact.


However, Bernard Duffort, an engine electronics expert from Renault, claimed the Williams box showed definite signs of impact and had been damaged. When examined, it contained no data.