Newey: Puncture likely cause of Senna crash
Red Bull designer Adrian Newey believes that a puncture was the most likely cause of the crash that killed Aryton Senna and that it nearly made him leave F1.
Newey was the man responsible for the design of the FW16 that Senna was driving on the fateful day at Imola when the Brazilian legend was killed in a single-car accident.
The Briton admits that the incident has a tremendous impact on him, so much so that he still is unable to watch footage of the accident.
"The little hair I had all fell out in the aftermath," Newey told The Guardian.
"So it changed me physically. It was dreadful. Both Patrick Head [Williams’ technical director] and myself separately asked ourselves whether we wanted to continue in racing. Did we want to be involved in a sport where people can die in something we've created? Secondly, was the accident caused by something that broke through poor or negligent design? And then the court case started."
Newey and Head were charged with manslaughter and the 52-year-old admits it nearly caused him to walk away from the sport.
"For the whole team it was incredibly difficult," he explained.
"I remember the day after the race was a bank holiday Monday and some of us came in to try and trawl though the data and work out what happened. They were dark weeks.
"The honest truth is that no one will ever know exactly what happened. There's no doubt the steering column failed and the big question was whether it failed in the accident or did it cause the accident? It had fatigue cracks and would have failed at some point. There is no question that its design was very poor. However, all the evidence suggests the car did not go off the track as a result of steering column failure.
After a forensic analysis, Newey believes that the rear of the car "stepped out", because, "the right rear tire probably picked up a puncture from debris on the track. If I was pushed into picking out a single most likely cause, that would be it."