JULY 1, 1996
...but all is not rosy in the garden
WHILE Frank Williams is well-placed in the engine market, he is still facing legal problems in Italy, relating to the death in Imola in 1994 of Ayrton Senna. In recent days there have been many erroneous news stories in Europe - Williams has even taken legal action against a couple of newspapers because of things that have been written - suggesting that Williams and other team members have been charged with manslaughter.
This is incorrect, although Italian sources say that the Italian public prosecutor Maurizio Passarini wants Williams, Patrick Head and Adrian Newey to stand trial on such charges. In addition, the Imola management is believed to be facing similar actions. Whether Passarini has a good enough case must be decided by an Italian federal judge. If the judge accepts Passarini's version of events he may decide that charges can be brought against Williams. In this case there is likely to be a court battle in November. Williams says he is confident that the team will have a solid defense.
There are, of course, many other aspects to the case, notably the political issue of whether the Italians want to alienate the Formula 1 teams. If legal action is taken it is quite possible that F1 team owners will vote not to race in Italy - which would cause great discontent with Fiat - the owners of Ferrari and one of Italy's most powerful companies. Pressure would then be brought to bear on Italian politicians to change the law about sporting accidents.
It is hard to imagine that Italy will go without any Grands Prix in the future, but there is likely to be plenty more political maneuvering before the Senna case is finally sorted out.
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