It has been reported in todays (10th December 1995) News of the World that the report into the crash of Ayrton Senna has been leaked.
Professor Enrico Lorenzini said that the "steering was not working properly". However, he goes on to state that he is certain that the steering column broke before the crash, and was due to the column being "badly welded together".
"The rod joining the steering wheel to the wheels was virtually sliced in half. It had been badly welded together about a third of the way down and couldn't stand the strain of the race. We discovered scratches on the crack in the rod. It seemed like the job had been done in a hurry, but I can't say how long before the race. Someone had tried to smooth over the join following the welding. I have never seen anything like it".
It is reported that the column was reduced in size because Senna wanted a clearer view of the instrument panel. To carry this out, according to Lorenzini's report, the column was split into two sections - both of different diameters - and welded together. "The two parts were of different diameters and I have heard that the job was done so that the steering whell could be lowered for comfort. But this is the first time I have ever seen such a job. Generally, these simple steel rods - around 70cm long - are always in one piece. This one had been welded together at the 23cm mark. The thinner part was next to the steering wheel, and stayed stuck to the steering wheel on the floor as you see it after the crash. The thicker part was below and the difference in diameter was made up by a joint welded onto a hollow tube. This is where the break happened. I believe that the rod was faulty, probably cracked, even during the warm-up. And moments before the crash only a tiny piece was left connected and therefore the car didn't respond in the bend".
On the subject of video evidence, Lorenzini was similarly forthright "This is the tragic part. Here you can see how Senna tried to avoid the crash. He had incredible reactions and was physically far superior..... He wrenched the wheel and the car kept going straight on. This was the point where only a tiny piece of metal was connected to the rod. Then he hit the brakes, but he was already flying above the ground so he just kept going. This is the dip in the road. But that, even though it didn't help, was not the cause of the accident... The fact is that the metal couldn't stand the strain of the race".
Williams' lawyer, Roberto Causo, has said that "Our data shows the steering was working until the moment of impact". The News of the World also contacted Frank Williams, and put the following questions to him:
Q: Was any welding carried out on the steering rod before the race? FW: No comment
Q: Have you seen a copy of the crash report? FW: No.
Q: Did you know that your chief designer (Adrian Newey) admitted altering the car's steering rod? FW: No comment.
-- Stephen M Baines
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