Patrick Head and Adrian Newey Attend Court

IMOLA, Italy (Apr 15, 1997 – 10:07 EST)

Williams team technical director Patrick Head and former chief designer Adrian Newey appeared in court for the first time on Tuesday at their trial over the racing death of Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.

The two men, present to hear other testimony and not to give evidence of their own, are among six people accused by an Italian prosecutor of manslaughter in the death of Senna in a crash at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. Neither made any comment to reporters covering the trial, which opened in February.

Head, Newey and team chief Frank Williams deny prosecution allegations that a
faulty weld on the steering column of Senna’s car contributed to the death of the three times world champion. His car careered off the Imola track’s Tamburello bend on May 1, 1994, and smashed into a concrete wall at 210 kph.

A report drawn up for the prosecution by Italian experts who were giving evidence on Tuesday concluded that a weld made to shorten the steering column snapped before the impact, causing Senna to lose control.

The three other accused, Belgian international race director Roland Bruynseraede
and Imola officials Federico Bendinelli and Giorgio Poggi are also charged with manslaughter as a result of alleged track deficiencies. They, too, deny the charges.

Frank Williams has yet to attend the trial Team sources said on Tuesday that he was expected to be present when the defence opened its case at the end of the month. Under Italian law defendants can exercise a right to be absent from proceedings against them.

World champion Damon Hill and Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone are expected to testify at the trial later this month when they are in Imola for this season’s San Marino Grand Prix.

The trial continues. Under Italian law its verdict will be subject to automatic appeal by either defence or prosecution.

(c) 1997 Agence France-Presse – 15/4/97.