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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bumps Not Steering to Blame Defense Claims in Crash Trial

IMOLA, Italy -- A bumpy track, not a poorly welded steering column, caused Ayrton Senna's fatal crash, two engineers told an Italian court that is hearing manslaughter charges against six Formula One officials.


Mechanical engineers Giorgio Stirano and Diego Milen, testifying Wednesday for the defense, strongly challenged the prosecution's contention that Senna's steering column broke because of bad welds and caused the three-time world champion to lose control at the Tamburello curve on the eighth lap of the 1994 Grand Prix of San Marino.


Williams-Renault team owner Frank Williams, technical director Patrick Head, designer Adrian Newey and three race officials are charged with manslaughter in the death of Senna, who died of massive head injuries shortly after his May 1, 1994 crash.


The experts claimed that Senna lost control after the car twice scraped the track after going over bumps.


Citing computer data and television videotape, Stirano and Milen said Senna found himself nine degrees off the ideal line for negotiating the fast corner.


"At that point, he decided to keep a straight direction and tried to brake the car," Stirano said.


The experts said it was not an attempt to dump responsibility on the late driver or circuit officials.


"It's a normal problem in Formula One races, which only fate made it fatal," Milen said.