Black Box Examined in Senna Trial

IMOLA, Italy (Apr 2, 1997 – 13:13 EST)

Ayrton Senna’s ‘black box’ data recorder came under scrutiny Wednesday, as the trial continued into the Brazilian’s fatal crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.

Witnesses said last month that the recorder had been damaged when Senna’s Williams-Renault hit a concrete wall after leaving the Tamburello bend, and could not be connected up to the team’s computer.

Marco Spiga, a technical expert called by state prosecutor Maurizio Passarini, demonstrated how the external sockets of the recorder worked — thank to three pin connectors supplied by Williams expert Giorgio Stirano. However, the session here proved inconclusive because the recorder also requires a data card to be connected up, in order to send the information across to a computer.

Williams lawyer Edda Gandossi said: “I think it’s clear today that it would be pointless in this trial to try and cast any suspicion or inferences on the behaviour of the Williams engineers – a behaviour which has always been courteous and professional.”

Passarini said: “Only today are we told we need a card. Williams never told us this before. Why wasn’t it made available?”

Stirano replied: “Because we were only asked for the pin connectors.” On Passarini’s request, he added that a card could be made available for the next court session — April 15 and 16.

The next stage, which could continue on April 22 if necessary, is expected to see crucial expert evidence about the steering column, which the prosecution claim failed and caused Senna’s fatal accident.

Bernie Ecclestone, head of the Formula One Constructors Association and other FOCA experts, are expected here on April 24.

(c) 1997 Agence France-Presse – 2/4/97.