JANUARY 13, 1997
Williams trial exposes Ferrari
FRANK WILLIAMS says he will be going to court in Imola next month to face charges of culpable homicide in connection with the death of Ayrton Senna in May 1994.
"I will be there, defending my company and myself. I know one is not obliged to be but I think it is correct to represent the company. It is my job.
"A death at a race track in Italy has to be investigated and I am participating very willingly in that investigation. I am planning to go there and I know what to expect."
Formula 1 team bosses are still to decide whether or not to send their teams to the two Italian races in 1997 when they may face criminal charges in the case of an accident. The FIA has asked the Italian automobile club to try and get the law changed, and there have been suggestions that F1 team bosses may choose to boycott the two Italian events. In fact, it is not really up to the team bosses as, in order to compete in the FIA F1 World Championship, teams must agree to attend all the championship races. It is up to F1 bosses Max Mosley and Bernie Ecclestone to decide whether they feel it is necessary to get the law changed in order to protect team principals in the future.
The potential to change the law does exist: there is currently a proposal for revisions to the legal code because the judicial system has failed to cope with the large number of cases involved in the recent investigations in politics and big business - known as Tangentopoli - with appeals processes likely to go on for years.
At the Ferrari launch team boss Jean Todt said that he was "certain" that all the teams would be running at Monza and Imola but he must be well aware that the potential for a boycott - real or otherwise - exposes Ferrari to the possibility of political pressure within F1. Mosley and Ecclestone are unlikely to miss the opportunity to force Ferrari to make concessions when the team is in a weak position.