Senna trial judge, Antonio Costanzo, ruled the reason for Ayrton Senna's fatal crash at the San Marino GP on 1 May 1994 to be the breaking of the 'modified' steering column fitted to Senna's Williams-Renault FW16B.
At the Senna manslaughter trial in 1997, Michele Alboreto, ex-F1 GP driver, appeared as a witness for the prosecution. Under questioning Alboreto said the CINECA video, taken from Senna's on-board camera, showed the flexing of Senna's steering wheel to be by several centimetres, and that NO steering wheel ever flexed by that amount. He added that oscillation could depend on the distance from the support, but only by 2-3 millimetres, not by some centimetres.
David Coulthard, testifying for the defence, said that it was perfectly normal for the Williams steering column to move both up and down and left and right by several centimetres, and for the driver's hands to rub against the cockpit. He fully supported the Williams' theory that the amount of movement shown on the videotape was normal. Coulthard's statement was therefore in direct contradiction to that of Alboreto.
Later Michele Alboreto told reporters: I am convinced that Senna's crash was caused by mechanical failure and not driver error. He added: I am now semi-retired and that fact allows me to speak freely. It bothers me that in all this people are defending positions which are indefensible.
Frank Williams, on speaking to the press, said: I made it clear in court that we think that the car left the road rather than suffered a steering column failure.
The following footage was recorded at the Senna trial. David Coulthard is shown in a video, produced by the Williams Team, seated in a 1994 car and, according to the Williams' defence, simulating the same movements as those made during a race. This video was meant to prove what, both Coulthard and the Williams' experts argued -- Flexing by this amount was perfectly NORMAL for a Williams steering wheel/column ...