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[Finished] Case #1: The 1989 Collision between Prost and Senna at Suzuka


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#1 Rainstorm

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 01:57

Molive has brought to the Atlas F1 court the case of Alain Prost's collision with Ayrton Senna in the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka - a collision that in effect had decided the World Championship that year, in favour of Alain Prost.

This case has been accepted for hearing, and it is the duty of this court to decide whether Alain Prost acted unsportingly on the track, deliberately causing the incident with Ayrton Senna in order to settle the championship in his favour.

Arguments can be posted by all parties interested as of January 13th, and for a length of three weeks (21 days).

The residing judges in this case are Marcel Schot, Billy and myself.

Arguments and evidence on the subject can be posted in this thread as of the opening date and as long as the hearing is open. A decision on the case will be posted up to 7 days after hearing is closed.


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#2 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 05:47

I had seen this race live on Television and as usual I made a video recording in case I wanted to play back later certain parts of the race. I vividly remember the collision before the right hand corner, the entrance to the chicane. The US (ESPN) announcer tried to put the blame on the leader, Alain Prost. His comment made me almost angry because I had just seen what happened seconds before when Ayrton Senna, in second place, tried to force his way past his teammate, Alain Prost. After the race was over I rewound the videotape to the point of the collision. I played it back many times at normal speed and slow motion. While watching this section of the tape numerous times, I made a sketch on paper and indicated where Prost turned in for the chicane entrance. I admit that this was not such an easy task. Then I rewound the tape back even further to watch where Prost had turned in at prior laps for the same corner. From these observations I came to the conclusion that Prost had been consistent at all times, using the same point of turning in. This proved to me my initial gut feeling that Alain Prost had not ‘closed the door’ on Senna but had held the same line.

Senna had been trying to get past Prost for some time. Since the race was almost over, with 7 laps to go out of 53, he felt the urge to go for it and out-brake his teammate, Alain Prost, at this point. It did not work, because Prost had already turned in as Ayrton pulled alongside, unable to slow his car down fast enough, colliding with Prost’s car. Although I admire Ayrton’s attempt of this passing maneuver, I account him fully responsible for the collision because the driver who wants to get by has to make sure there is enough room. There wasn’t.

I cannot find Prost acting in an unsporting way or causing the collision deliberately after eye witnessing this collision myself.

At the same time we know by Senna’s own admittance that he intentionally did ram Prost the following year. Whether he did so on this occasion we will never know.

#3 Drifter

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 06:53

Firstly, let me present the video clips of the incident:

http://formula1.tele...uka/suzuka2.mpg

and

http://formula1.tele...uka/suzuka3.mpg

Secondly, let me recount the situation prior to the collision. AP was leading the championship with 72 points to AS 60 points so he was in the box seat for the championship but AS had delt him a phsycological blow by annihilating AP for pole by a margin of 1.73 seconds.

AP got the jump on AS at the start and built up a lead over AS which he managed to maintain after pit stops and getting through backmarkers. AS gradually wore that lead down and on lap 47 AS got a good run out of 130R, closing on AP down the short straight and closing further under breaking, putting the nose of his car just alongside the cockpit of AP to win the corner some 15 metre from the right hander.

Looking at the video footage, particularly the view from the air, it is clear that AP turned in much too early for corner judging from marks on the track that indicate the usual line. If AS was not there APs whole car would have cut the corner.

Now, the case being discussed here is whether the move was both deliberate and unsporting. I believe that this was a deliberate, desperate and therefore unsporting move by AP to decide the championship then and there buy taking AS out of the race.

#4 Rainstorm

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 10:55

Hans, Drifter,

I have read your arguments - thank you for taking the time to put this.

I do, however, have a few questions - hoping you or others will reply to.

My primary question is this: was any driver ever, prior to this incident, involved in a similar situation and was accused of unsporting behaviour on track for this, or was even penalised for it? Surely this is not the first conroversial incident in the history of the sport - and if indeed it is not, I would appreciate it if someone could find parallels before, and how it was perceived then. (This is not to say that lack of precedent deems any side innocent automatically, however it can help shed some light on the state of mind of the drivers back then).

Leading on that, I would like to hear from you whether you think that this case would have been brought here, not to mention talked about all these years, had it not been a Championship Deciding race. How would this incident have been perceived if it happened, say, three rounds into the year? Do actions become accountable only at the deciding round of a Championship?

Furthermore, can you please perhaps give me some information on each of these two drivers before this incident, as far as their incident-record goes?

More information I would like to see, if it's available, is what these two drivers, Prost and Senna, and anyone directly related to them, had been quoted as saying with regards to the 1989 Suzuka incident (and please include source for reference).

I would also like to know more about the two's history. While it is very widely known that the two were bitter arch-rivals, I think that for many of the current Formula One followers, who were not watching F1 back then, this bitter rivalry is associated strictly with their 1989 and 1990 crash90. However, I get the impression that this rivalry had started before this specific incident that we are talking about, and thus I would appreciate it if someone could give us more background on that.

Thank you,

Rain


#5 Wolf

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 19:21

I'd like to ask The Court to consider one option. Since I respect Mr. Etzrodt and his judgement, I'll assume his account of events is accurate. One could conclude that Prost did not nothing to deviate from his usual behaviour on approach to that corner. To correlate to traffic regulations, I know that, at least where I come from, there is a formulation called 'forceful advantage materialization' (I do not know the exact term), which sometimes is applied in damage claims. It means that if a party (in this case Senna) had to yield- but did not, it does not mean that party that had advantage (and hence did not have to yield) can act in a manner to wilfuly cause collision, arguing that the othar party had to yield. I'll put things in perspective- Senna had to yield but did not. Prost had used the approach he used previously and did not react to Senna pulling abreast of him. If he knew he was going to collide with Senna (which can be assumed- but is open for further questioning) and refused to take evasive manoeuvre (on account of 'not having to' and championship standings at that time) can it be treated as unsportly action?

#6 Ali_G

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Posted 13 January 2001 - 20:50

I have just looked at the Video of this incident over again on the 89 FIA Video. If you look closely Prost is looking to the right. He can clearly see that Ayrton is coming down the inside of him. Yet he clearly turns into him and as Drifter has pointed out a lot of a distance before the acctual turn in point. I was obvious that Alain Prost had this idea from the start.
This really all started at Imola. At this GP both drivers had an agreement that who ever got through the first corner in first place would not be challenged for their position. Yet at this GP Alain got the better get away. He had the lead through the first corner. Yet going into the next, Ayrton lunged underneath him and passed him. Ayrton went on to win the race. Clearly Alain was infuriated by this. After the race he looked mad and this was the start to the feuding between himself and Ayrton.
Obviously the incident at Suzuka was payback by Alain for Ayrton had done to him at Imola.

There is also more evidence. After Alain had hit Senna his car had not much external damage to it. it didnt look like it had much damage at all. Yet Alain just pulled over without a care in the world. it was as if it was mission accomplished for the man. He couldn't care if he didn't finish the race. As long as he saw the Marshals re starting Ayrton's car he knew that Ayrton would be disqualified and that the title would be his.

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#7 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 14 January 2001 - 12:08

Rain,

I do not feel that I am really the qualified expert witness you require, who should be able to clearly explain the driving history of both drivers involved here. Instead, I am a mental traveler between the years 1895 and 1949 and I have only been an eyewitness in this case as a spectator.

In spite of that, I will make here a sincere effort to answer your request to the best of my abilities, although I do not feel I am qualified to do so.

Your primary question whether any of these drivers were ever involved in a similar situation, prior to this incident, or were accused of unsporting behavior on track or were even panelized, I simply do not know. I also cannot recall similar episodes before this particular incident to find parallels from the past. This does not mean that comparable incidents had not happened. But I also know that during the years 1895-1949, the period of my daily mental travels, the drivers in terms of morals, may have come from another planet and racing was also much more dangerous then.

To your question, whether this case would have been brought here, had it not been a Championship deciding race, I can only say that all 16 races in 1989 were deciding for the championship outcome. The Japanese Grand Prix, the event at which this incident took place, was the 15th race for the 1989 World Championship. At that time Prost was leading with 76 points (81 –2–3=76) against Senna’s 62. The Brazilian still had a mathematical chance to win the World Championship that year. In order for him to get the title, Senna would have to win the last two races, which were Japan and Australia. This would have brought him additional 18 points to his tally, bringing his total to 80. Simultaneously, Prost would have had to score less than 5 points in both events and this scenario was the only chance Senna had to become World Champion that year. Such speculation appears a bit farfetched, considering Prost’s average of 5.4 points per event in 1989.

Your question in regards of how this incident would have been perceived if it had happened in one of the early rounds into the year, I can only speculate that Senna might not have been as desperate in attempting this maneuver, but this is pure speculation on my part. However, since the second race of 1989 at San Marino, a great rift between the two drivers was created by Senna's behavior, or lack of it, when he broke a gentleman's agreement with Prost. The witness Ali_G has already made a statement about this incident during yesterday’s hearings.

With regards to quotes about the 1989 Suzuka incident and before, I have only very minimal sources available to me.

[*]About the Imola incident the following is written without permission: Ivan Rendall, THE POWER GAME "At Imola... (with both drivers on the front row) ..."Senna and Prost had an agreement that whoever reached the first corner first, the other would give way on that corner. This would avoid the possibility of the two McLaren drivers taking each other out before the race was even under way. Senna was cleanly away so the agreement was academic." ...(On lap four Berger crashed at Tamburello corner and the race was stopped and on the restart...) ..."and this time it was Prost who made the better start and was ahead at the first corner, but Senna did not honor the agreement and slipstreamed past Prost before the first corner, going on to win the race with a very angry Prost second. Alain Prost always spoke his mind and after the race he told Senna, plainly to his face, that he was clearly a man whose word could not be taken. The fragile relationship between the two teammates, which had been under growing strain, started to crack..." and Prost "told the French sports magazine L’Equipe that he 'no longer wished to have any business with [Senna]; I appreciate honesty and he is not honest'."

[*] About the Suzuka incident the following is written without permission: Alan Henry, AUTOCOURSE 50 years of World Championship GRAND PRIX MOTOR RACING ..."It had to happen. Senna braked incredibly late, two wheels shaving the grass on the inside. But Prost wasn’t having it. As Ayrton kept coming, the Frenchman – who had by now had enough of his intimidation – closed the door. The two cars skidded to an interlocked halt in the middle of the track."

[*] About the Suzuka incident the following is written without permission: Adriano Cimarosti, The complete history of GRAND PRIX MOTOR RACING ..."A highly motivated Prost held the lead ahead of Senna until the Brazilian attempted a risky overtaking maneuver into the chicane. Prost held his line and the two McLarens collided and slid off the track."

[*] About the Suzuka incident the following is written without permission: Ivan Rendall, THE POWER GAME ..."In Japan, Senna was on pole but Prost made the better start and went into the lead and so it continued for 47 of the 53 laps. Coming to the chicane, Prost closed in on the corner. Senna never gave way on the track, that was part of his style, so the two McLarens collided and slid off the circuit..."

[*] About the Suzuka incident the following is written without permission: Ivan Rendall, THE CHECKERED FLAG, 100 Years of Motor Racing ..."In Japan, Prost took the lead with Senna right behind him. As they approached the chicane, Senna tried to out brake Prost, and neither gave way. They slid off the circuit, locked together..."

I am unable to fulfill the courts request to provide more history of both drivers and find out if that rivalry had started before this specific incident. But my personal opinion in this matter is that the rivalry started when Senna joined the McLaren team in 1988. However, my recommendation to the court is to obtaining statements by one of the many expert witnesses.


#8 Williams

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Posted 14 January 2001 - 12:46

In response to the Court's request for further information, I have found that Alan Henry's "Remembering Ayrton Senna" includes an excellent summary of the circumstances surrounding the incident in question.

Forming an accurate perspective on his re-lationship with Prost has become a fascinating exercise in retrospective analysis. Even by the middle of 1988 it was not difficult to detect trouble coming, although circumstances obliged Prost to take a strategically deferential role towards the end of the summer.

After returning to Europe determined to mount a dramatic counterattack, Prost won the French Grand Prix before being forced to take a back seat to Senna, who went on to win the British, German, Hungarian and Belgian races in quick succession. It seemed as though the Championship was over. After the Belgian race Alain conceded that it would be virtually impossible to catch Senna in the title chase.

At Monza, however, Senna made a crucial mistake when he tripped over a backmarker, handing the Italian Grand Prix win to Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari. Then the pendulum gradually began to swing back in Prost’s favour, and the two team-mates arrived at Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix each still with a shot at the Championship.

Senna qualified commandingly on pole position, then stalled his engine on the grid. But luck was on his side. The downhill gradient allowed him to bump-start his Honda engine into life and enact a mind-numbing comeback from eighth place on the opening lap to win the race and clinch his first World Championship. In doing so Senna broke Jim Clark’s record of seven wins in a single season, a feat that had stood for twenty-five years.

Those last closing races of the year raised the temperature of the relationship between Prost and Senna. At the start of the Portuguese G.P. at Estoril Senna thought that Alain edged him over to the outside of the circuit in an un-necessarily brusque fashion as they went into the first corner.

The event was subsequently stopped due to a multiple collision further back in the pack. This time Senna made the best start, chopping across his rival going into the first turn. At the end of the opening lap, as Prost swooped alongside him to challenge for the lead, Senna squeezed him so tightly against the pit wall that rival teams quickly withdrew their signalling boards for fear they would strike the Frenchman’s McLaren as it shaved by at almost 180 mph. After the race Prost told Senna that he hadn’t realized that Ayrton was prepared to risk a fatal accident, and if he really wanted the World Championship that much he could have it. The cracks in the relationship were subsequently papered over behind closed doors, but cracks they remained. Concealed, not repaired.

In 1989, armed with the new Honda 3.5-litre V1O cylinder engine, McLaren would again be a highly competitive force, but the relationship between Senna and Prost deteriorated dramatically. This feud sparked a bitter personal antipathy between the two men that would last until the close of Prost’s active racing career at the end of 1993. Only on the day before Ayrton died did Alain sense a real
possibility of an enduring rapprochement with the erstwhile rival.

The trouble began at the 1989 San Marino Grand Prix at Imola, where Senna and Prost qualified their McLaren—Honda MP4I5s in first and second places, comfortably ahead of the field. At the first race of the year in Brazil, Senna had been involved in a silly first-corner skirmish with another car, losing his McLaren’s nose-cone.

Now Senna proposed that the two team-mates should have an informal ‘no-passing’ rule at the first corner. Prost agreed that it would be a great idea. No problems arose at the start when Senna made the best getaway, but the race was soon red-flagged to a halt after a fiery crash involving Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari.

At the restart Prost got the jump on Senna, but the Brazilian apparently reneged on the no-passing deal, surging by into the first corner. Alain was infuriated; Ayrton merely shrugged it aside, explaining that he in fact overtook Prost on the straight before the corner rather than at the braking area for the corner itself.

This might have seemed like a fine distinction, but clearly Senna was now giving Prost the tools to psychologically bury himself. You could see Alain’s point of view. He’d been the rock on which McLaren had operated so successfully ever since the start of 1984. Now he could detect the balance of power shifting decisively in Ayrton’s favour. It was, in part, an almost unconscious process. Certainly McLaren team stalwarts, those who worked on the inside preparing the cars, could see the merits and shortcomings of both drivers. Team chief Ron Dennis worked all hours to make the ‘dream—team partnership work, but after the first few races of 1989 it was clear that the deal was becoming unstitched.

Honda’s position as engine supplier has been difficult to judge accurately, but it was certainly a key factor in the equation. Insiders believe that the Japanese engine supplier displayed an inequitable partiality towards Senna. This was perhaps understandable, for he was always perceived as more an ‘engine man,’ keen on maximizing his performance potential in that area. Prost, by contrast, was a ‘chassis man,’ one aspect of his brilliance being the ability to adjust the car’s handling to an absolute optimum pitch.

Senna, we now know, often relied on copying Prost’s chassis set-up — then going faster by using it. Add that to the feeling that he had been betrayed by Senna at Imola, and one can easily understand why Prost announced at the French Grand Prix that he would not be continuing with McLaren in 1990. A couple of months later he announced a deal to join Nigel Mansell at Ferrari.

After Prost won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, round twelve of the sixteen-race title battle, Senna had slipped twenty points adrift due to a handful of disappointing retirements in the middle of the season. Prost now firmly hinted Honda was favouring Senna with better engines. The Japanese company was aghast at this allegation and, together with McLaren and Prost, issued an absurdly self-conscious joint statement at the Portuguese G.P. indicating that Prost ‘deeply regrets the adverse publicity and the resulting embarrassment that have been caused by these actions.’

Nobody was taken in, but Senna now went on the defensive behind closed doors. In the author’s hearing he urged Honda to persuade Ron Dennis that Prost should be dropped from the McLaren line-up even before the end of the season. “We will be haemorrhaging technical information that he can take with him to Ferrari,” said Ayrton angrily.

Needless to say, this was not a realistic option, and the moment passed. The time bomb continued to tick away in terms of the relationship between the two drivers. Finally, at the Japanese Grand Prix, it exploded into shreds, publicly and uncomfortably.

Senna qualified on pole position, but made a last-
minute ad]ustment to his McLaren’s aerodynamic set-up. It proved the wrong way to go and Prost got the jump on him from second place on the starting grid. From then on the two McLarens circulated in nose-to-tail formation, the crowd on tenterhooks as it waited to see how the confrontation would work out.

Senna tried to work it out. In order to wrest the Championship from Prost’s clutches he had to win not only here at Suzuka but also at the Australian Grand Prix at Adelaide a fortnight later. But the laps were rolling by and time was running out. Ayrton knew that his only chance to pass would be under-braking for the very tight chicane just before the pits.

On lap 47, with only six to go, Senna made his move. Coming into the braking area at a seemingly impossible speed, Ayrton put his right-hand wheels across the entrance to the pit lane, then ran along the grass and the inside kerb as he forced his way alongside Alain, the two McLarens snaking and weaving with the sheer ferocity of their braking effort. Many times before Prost had given way to avoid a collision in close battles with Senna. The Brazilian was clearly again relying on such a compliant response. But Alain had come to the end of his patience and turned into the corner, unwilling to concede an inch. The two cars collided and slithered to a halt, absurdly locked together in the middle of the track.

Without a moment’s hesitation Alain unclipped his belts and climbed from the car. Ayrton immediately focussed his mind on how to get going again.

Marshals responded to Senna’s signals to pull his car back, duly push-started it into action, and the Brazilian was able to resume the chase. Unfortunately, instead of steering through the chicane, Ayrton chose to accelerate through the escape road and out the other side in order to regain the cir-cuit. Despite a quick pit stop to replace a damaged nose section, he went like the wind to pass Ales-sandro Nannini’s Benetton, re-take the lead and win the race.

He was then excluded from the results for missing the chicane, thus handing Nannini the win. Senna simply couldn’t believe it. The McLaren team vowed it would fight to the ends of the earth to have Ayrton’s victory reinstated.

It wouldn’t happen. Prost was World Champion, and Senna found himself with a burning sense of injustice. Those flames of personal indignation would continue to be fanned in his heart. That was the only place I could overtake,” he explained, “and somebody who should not have been there just closed the door and that was that. The results as they stand provisionally do not reflect the truth of the race in either the sporting sense or the sense of the regulations. I see this result as temporary.

“Now the matter is out of my hands,” Senna went on. “What I have done is done and is correct. From now on, this matter will be in the hands of the lawyers, people who understand the theoretical side. As for the practical side, it was obvious I won on the track.” It was a telling barometer of the situation that he refused to mention Prost by name.

Alain was more philosophical. “I must admit that Ayrton is an extremely good driver,” he said with masterly understatement. “He is extremely motivated, but in my view he is driving too hard. To be honest, from a personal point of view, it has become absolutely impossible to work with him.”

As they sat in the stewards’ office at Suzuka after the official adjudication, Prost walked forward and proffered his hand, saying that he was sorry that things had ended this way. Ayrton brushed aside the gesture and told the Frenchman he never wanted to see him again.




#9 Nomad

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Posted 14 January 2001 - 14:07

Using Drifter's video clips as evidence, Prost is not looking to the right far enough to see Senna, he is looking for the apex of the corner. The onboard Prost camera doesn't show Senna to be visible until after the initial impact.

Whether Prost is using his normal line to the corner cannot be judged using the tyre marks on the track as a reference. Different car behaviour and driver style produce different lines (more so in 1989 than today's F1). We do not know by which cars these marks were made; the only thing that is certain about the tyre marks is that they were not all made by Prost and therefore cannot be considered his normal line.



#10 Simioni

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Posted 14 January 2001 - 19:47

Prost turned in too early and that is clear. Different driving styles implicate different racing lines, but those lines defer by inches not by meters. Prost's line in the above video makes no geometrical sense. See Senna's pole lap for reference:

http://formula1.tele...ka/suzukaq1.mpg


Comparing Senna's head movements when approaching the chicane, you can notice how Prost was indeed looking down in his mirrors at the point of the accident, while jabbing the wheel in order to put it in Senna's way.

If Prost was indeed willing to play tough and not be "intimidated" by Senna, he should have kept the door closed. As it was, he didn't expect Senna to come from that far back, and recklessly turned into him in order to make amends to his mistake. The incident has great resemblances with the villeneuve-Schumacher clash in Jerez, the only difference is that Prost was able to notice Senna's presence a fraction earlier, thus he was able to effectively take his opponent out.


#11 Cinquecento

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 07:32

Alain Prost:

"I couldn't believe he tried it on that lap, because, as we came up to the chicane, he was so far back. When you look in your mirrors, and a guy is 20 metres behind you, it's imposible to judge, and I didn't even realise he was trying to overtake me. But at the same time I thought, 'There's no way I'm going to leave him even a one-metre gap. No way'. I came off the throttle braked - and turned in."


The quote is from MotorSport magazine 1.10.1998, copied from Readers' Comments thread "Prost wanted to swap helmets with Senna" by member Louis Mr. F1.

Alain Prost has not sworn to testify in this hearing, so taking his word from a public interview to defend or accuse him is invalid. Looking at this statement it remains a little unclear how exactly he perceived the collision situation. He says he did not see Senna making his move, but that he was at the same time thinking he would not leave him with a possibility to make a move.

It can be argued that Prost had not lost the corner to Senna, he had not made a driving error that had allowed Senna the chance to overtake, but rather Senna was attempting to make a highly optimistic pass. I cannot view the exhibit videoclips due to insufficient software ( Netscape :rolleyes: ), and I haven't seen the actual video for quite a while, so I cannot argue any further, but I leave the above quote to other members and the judges' panel for further analysis.



#12 Force Ten

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 10:54

Whether the point of turning in to the corner was/wasn't an early one should be watched and discussed in consensus with the conditions it was reached to.

We cannot determine if the turning point Prost chose was or was not a too early one by comparing it with a turning point chosen by another driver in an another car in another day in another conditions, in this case provided by Simioni in a form of qualifying lap driven by Ayrton Senna.

We can only determine if Prost turned in too early into that corner by comparing his driving line in that particular lap with other driving lines which he chose to take on that same corner on the preceding laps.
[p][Edited by Force Ten on 01-16-2001]

#13 Nomad

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 12:14

With reference to whether this case would have been brought at all if it was not the FINAL deciding race of the championship I cite Silverstone '95.
A collision between the two championship contenders occurred which took both out of the race. The collision itself took place in the braking area of a corner where the 'door was shut' or 'there was never room to pass'.
The important factor about this collision w.r.t. this case is that the circumstances are all similar except Silverstone 95 was not the Final deciding round of the championship.
Silverstone '95 is barely discussed nor remembered.

I sumbit that the only reasons this case was brought before court are that it was the final deciding race of the championship and that one of the participants committed what was to his mind a 'revenge' act the following year. Neither are a reflection of the facts of the driving in this case.


The submission of the extract from Alan Henry's "Remembering Ayrton Senna" should be viewed in the context that the book was written primarily for purchase by Ayrton Senna's fans and will therefore always take the view more favourable towards him.
Any statements made by parties post 1stMay 1994 must also be viewed in the context that Senna was dead and the universal idiom that 'one must not speak ill of the dead'.


#14 Sean L

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 13:30

After studying the video evidence, I've made the following observations:

Where we see a slow motion from Prost's in-car camera, watching Prost's hands on the steering wheel I can see him start turning into the corner normally. He then turns in more sharply, straightens a bit and then turns in sharply again aiming well short of the apex. I can't see this as a normal racing line from one of the smoothest champions in GP history.

In the other video it's also interesting to see that Senna is right along the inside of Prost on the approach to the corner and travelling at the same speed for at least the last 10 metres. At real speed it doesn't look like either of them was going to make that corner even if the other wasn't there.

Senna had taken chances before and got away with them because Prost had given way. Prost seemed resolute that it wasn't going to happen again. The move by Senna required total co-operation from the passee. So who was at fault? An overambitious move on Senna's part followed by a blocking move by Prost which made contact inevitable. It's impossible to lay the blame solely on one or the other but from the evidence I would have to say that most of it lies with Prost.


#15 Jimbo

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 13:59

From the footage provided by Drifter, one can easily conclude two things:

1) Prost turns in way too early to even make the entry of the chicane. Keep in mind that F1 cars have a huge turning radius, while viewing the footage from the helicam: Prost is aiming for the inside curb well before it's apex point. There is no way he would have been able to make the right hander with an F1 car without going off track.

2) Prost also brakes too early for the chicane, seeing that he is nowhere near the limit of the braking capabilities of his McLaren. This can be evidenced not only by the fact that Senna brakes much later on the dirty side of the track without losing control, but also because after the collision Prost even manages to come to a complete stop - and stop Senna's car as well! - without sliding off track. That could only have been possible if Prost's entry speed into the chicane was too low, given an F1 cars' dependence on downforce and mechanical grip. I would like to remind the court of a more recent incident at similar speeds, where the culprit veered straight into the gravel trap after having collided. I am of course referring to Jerez '97.

It would be very unlikely for a driver of Prost's caliber to make two mistakes - missing the apex *and* missing the braking point - on one corner, even when one takes into account the amount of pressure he was under. This can only lead to one possible conclusion: Prost was lining up to collect Senna, which, not surprisingly, is exactly what happened.[p][Edited by Jimbo on 01-16-2001]

#16 Simioni

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 20:42

[quote]Originally posted by Nomad
With reference to whether this case would have been brought at all if it was not the FINAL deciding race of the championship I cite Silverstone '95.
A collision between the two championship contenders occurred which took both out of the race. The collision itself took place in the braking area of a corner where the 'door was shut' or 'there was never room to pass'.
The important factor about this collision w.r.t. this case is that the circumstances are all similar except Silverstone 95 was not the Final deciding round of the championship.
Silverstone '95 is barely discussed nor remembered.
[/quote]

Objection! Silverstone 95 carries no relation whatsoever with Suzuka 89. In the first incident, Hill braked way too late and t-boned into Schumacher who was already turning while following the normal racing line. Hill's wheels were long locked as he slid right into Schumacher's sidepods. In Suzuka, Prost turned in way earlier than the normal racing line and hit Senna when the latter was already alongside.

Silverstone 95:
http://f-1.sovintel....ill_silv_95.mpg


[quote]
I sumbit that the only reasons this case was brought before court are that it was the final deciding race of the championship and that one of the participants committed what was to his mind a 'revenge' act the following year. Neither are a reflection of the facts of the driving in this case.
[quote]

In fact, the only reason this case is still regarded as "arguable" is because people see it as a case of chicken eating the fox. Prost taking Senna out seems to be considered as some sort of paradox. Had Senna been the offender, the case would've been closed there and then.


#17 Wolf

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 22:02

Since I have raised a point of fair-play that might have made Prost's case a bit more difficult, and I side with no party involved- I'm merely interested in this Court's findings and their explanation (which should define Court's attitude towards certain tendencies in modern F1), I'll dwell on that point a little longer and bring up another perspective to some issues that have been discussed here.

First of all, I'd like to comment Ali_G's post which, as does a latter quote, points out Prost's behaviour after the incident. It may be consistent with his intent, if there was an intent; but it can also be viewed as normal reaction to incident which turned to his favour, regardless to who or what caused it. Therefore I do not think it should bear any relevance on this case.

I am still inclined to belive Mr. Etzrodts account of events, but for arguments sake I'll assume otherwise. The reason for that is that many posters have claimed that deviation from his normal approach to the chicane indicates his intent to collide with Senna. If he braked earlier (which I do not find very likely) or presented his car earlier to the chicane, that can also mean he was taking defensive line through the corner. And, may I remind, it's completely legitimate move and the choice of taking either 'racing' or 'defensive' line is entirely up to a driver and his appraisal which would benefit him more. Look at any MotoGP race, where drivers are more exposed and hence (but not only because of that) the standards fair-play are at entirely different level; taking defensive line is neither considered dangerous nor uncommon, but merely tactical decision.
As other recent example to show Prost's possible intentions I will enter M. Schumacher's defensive move against first Coulthards passing attempt in French GP '00. MS took defensive line, alllowing DC to take temporary lead, with adjusting the entry that his line tightens around apex- allowing him to accelerate earlier than opponent and out-drag him in run to the next corner. And I do not find a fault at that tactits. This does not speak of Prost's iintentions either, but it provides alternative view than most common one that taking defensive line indicates his intent to collide with Senna.



#18 Simioni

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Posted 16 January 2001 - 22:32

Originally posted by Wolf
The reason for that is that many posters have claimed that deviation from his normal approach to the chicane indicates his intent to collide with Senna. If he braked earlier (which I do not find very likely) or presented his car earlier to the chicane, that can also mean he was taking defensive line through the corner. And, may I remind, it's completely legitimate move and the choice of taking either 'racing' or 'defensive' line is entirely up to a driver and his appraisal which would benefit him more.


How can you take defensive lines when the other car is already alongside you? To quote Isaac Newton, "two bodies can't occupy the same space at the same time"...

#19 senninha

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 03:01

"Judges",

First, I want to apologize due my not so good English.

Let's go to "the case":

Preliminary, the point is : Prost crashed by purpose ? Has nothing to do with Imola 89 - BTW: that race can't be used by an excuse for Prost's attitude.

BEFORE THE RACE:

Grid positions changed due Balestre, in order to make the things easier for Prost;

AP: "Today I must attack and attack. NOTHING MORE INTEREST ME. Senna must win to achieve the title. IN THE PAST, I'D BEEN OPENED THE DOOR A LOT OF TIMES TO HIM (AS). TODAY I WON'T DO THE SAME ..."

RACE

- 6 laps to go: Senna's car has less final speed, he must pass Prost in a slow corner. PROST KNEW IT.

- the slowest corner in Suzuka is the "S", wich is a good overtaking point, too. PROST KNEW IT.

- Senna tried - the car are side by side. Prost, suddenly turns the wheel much before the corner.

- Just look on board camera and the HELICOPTER image showed by Mclaren one week after, WITH A COMPUTER PREDICTION OF PROST'S CURVE WITHOUT SENNA'S CAR. PROST'S CAR WOULD GO TO GRAVEL, BEFORE THE CORNER.

- They crashed. Prost SUDDENLY GETS OUT OF HIS CAR (the "job" was done)

- Not satisfied, Prost KEEP THE GEARBOX OF HIS CAR SHIFTED, THE STEWARDS/MARSHALS LOST A LOT OF TIME TO REMOVE PROST'S CAR FROM SENNA'S CAR.


AFTER THE RACE:

AP: "I ALWAYS THINK THE RACE ONLY COULD BE FINISHED BY TWO WAYS: EITHER HE STARTED AHEAD (almost impossible, due Balestre manouvre) OR FINISHED THAT WAY. DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS HIS PROBLEM ? HE DOESN'T ACCEPT DON'T WIN (BTW: if Senna had finished in 2nd, Prost'd be champion, so...)"

AP - "This was my REVENGE OVER RON (Dennis)"

Piquet = SENNA'S HATER - "I'm satisfied for Prost finally stoped to complain about Honda engines and race with balls. But, he LOOKED LIKE SO CALM AND SATISFIED WITH HIMSELF WHEN ABANDONED THE CAR, THAT I BELIEVE HE MAYBE BRAKED EARLIER THAN NORMAL IN ORDER TO PROVOKE THE CRASH WITH 'THE OTHER' (Piquet, when refers to Senna)"


For me, and the majority the truth is clear ...


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#20 Billy

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 03:45

senninha,

could you provide the source of your quotes?

#21 Cinquecento

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 12:16

From the same interview I quoted in my earlier post:

A year later the two were back at Suzuka, once again to settle the World Championship, and this time it was Alain who had to win. Although no longer in the same team, he and Ayrton had not in any way diluted the intensity of their strife. Prost, said Senna, had better not try to turn into the first corner ahead of him: 'If he does, he's not going to make it...' In the event, at 150mph, the McLaren ran into the back of the Ferrari.

"Well, what can you say about that? After I'd retired we talked about it, and he admitted to me - as he did to the press - that he'd done it on purpose. He explained to me why he did it. He was furious with (FIA President) Balestre for not agreeing to change the grid, so that he could start on the left, and he told me he had decided that if I got to the first corner ahead of him, he'd push me off."


If my memory serves me right, and the interview suggests the same, the incident senninha refers to happened in 1990. Jean-Marie Balestre disagreed with Senna's opinion that Senna should be given the right to choose on which side of the track pole position was to be placed. Senninha's account and quotes are interesting, but their sources need to be mentioned for verification.

---

Sean L, Jimbo and Simioni are saying that Prost must have noticed Senna's move at some point and deliberately blocked him.

I object to Jimbo's second conclusion, as it is based on speculation about and comparison to Jerez 1997 without exact measurements. The velocity of the vehicles at the time of the impact as well as many other variables have not been provided to make such comparison.

As to the argument of deliberate blocking, I will return with more comments after I have installed software that can run the videoclips. However, I point out that any arguments based on viewing videoclips are also based on subjective interpretation. Any attempts to draw conclusions of what Prost's or Senna's intentions were and what was the meaning of certain head or hand movements are merely assumptions.

I say this because if Prost is the defendant in this trial, he must be proved guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. Simioni's, Jimbo's and Sean L's obsevations do not achieve this, as they pretend to know for certain what Prost was thinking and planning to do. The clips, as far as I know, do not come with a soundtrack to Prost's motives.



#22 Bob Nomates

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 13:22

Judges and Juries and people of this court!!! Prost was a dirty driver with experience of wringling his way out of difficult situations, Senna was not so skilled in this area as his natural talent had never required it.
I have seen an over head shot of this incident from the hele telly which anyone can see on the Video 'A star name Aryton Senna' and it clearly shows that if Senna had not been in the way Prost would have completely missed the chicane and gone onto the grass and probarly span out of the race, Prost was a four time world champion and although painfully show at times was not at Jos Verstappen standard.
So Prost did take out Senna on purpose because, he did not care about how it may effect his place in the team with the Honda engineers espically because he was going to Ferrari.

Court Agerned!!!

#23 Sean L

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 13:52

I would like to answer Cinquecento's concerns.

Firstly, I was neither a fan of Prost or Senna and approached this trial with a fairly open mind although I'd say I was slightly biased in Prost's favour because Senna had a reputation as a driver who does not shy away from on track contact.

I remember from those television replays viewed a long time ago that I placed the blame squarely on Senna's shoulders. I thought it an overly ambitious Hill-type manoevoure bearing in mind that I only saw the external view. It's only after seeing the new video footage evidence that I've changed my mind.

Cinquecento -

"Sean L, Jimbo and Simioni are saying that Prost must have noticed Senna's move at some point and deliberately blocked him."

You previously quoted Prost as saying: "I couldn't believe he tried it on that lap, because, as we came up to the chicane, he was so far back..."

I trust that Cinquecento will acquire the technology to be able to view the clips and thus comment objectively on the evidence.

Another point that I haven't seen mentioned is that Senna had nothing to gain and everything to lose from a potentially terminal incident at that stage of the championship.


#24 Simioni

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 15:35

Cinquecento,

We can't prove anything beyond a shadow of doubt because since we are not lawyers nor technicians, we dont have access to telemetry data nor do we have the chance to call witnesses to testify. We have to make our judgement based on videos and quotes, and that is never going to be enough to convince those with poor eyesight. The videos (which unfortunately you dont have the chance to see) shows for a fact that Prost turned in too early while looking down in his mirror. It also shows that Senna was alongside him and slowing down at the same rate. That should be more than enough to determine who was at fault in the accident. A confession from Prost would unfortunately be too hard to get.



#25 mtl'78

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 20:38

An important issue to consider, as the marshalls do, is "who had the corner?". Senna was abreast of Prost, yet as Prost turns in, Senna's front wheels are not even past Prost's rear wheels. By the time they make contact, Senna's fronts are just past Prost's rears, interlocked. So it's safe to say that Senna never won the corner. This may very well be because Prost took it away from him, but it would still be his right to do so if this is the case.

Senna had made a habit of bullying Prost on the track, and he was quite a distance away when he committed himself up the inside, thus the real possibility exists that had Prost not taken evasive action, i.e. had Prost taken a normal line, there might have been a collision anyways. The fact that he was over 10 meters behind helps Prost's side in that he probably figured he had time to get over and block the inside before Senna could threatten his position. For sure it was a dodgy move on his part, but I suppose it was his line to take. It's very dufficult to assing blame in collisions involving a failed passing attempt. Take the Jerez 1997 for example, universally accepted as MS' fault, yet to assing this blame, we use under 1 second of onboard footage, studying MS's reactions. This is a very small amount of data in which to ascertain someone's intention(s). So in this case I find it hard to determine that Prost did actually turn in on Senna the same way MS did on JV, the collision it most resembles (as far as title deciding collisions) is 1994, where the opinions are more mixed. Mine is that MS was less than gentlemanly but Hill was foolish, jumping into a shrinking gap from a desperate driver. Senna probably expected Prost to be as passive as he had been throughout the season.

IMO it was a foolish attempt by Senna, but Prost did nothing to avoid a collision, as he apparently suggested beforehand. For this reason I believe that they should share the blame, 50/50, with Senna having a slight moral advantage.



#26 Simioni

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 22:20

Senna was abreast of Prost, yet as Prost turns in, Senna's front wheels are not even past Prost's rear wheels. By the time they make contact, Senna's fronts are just past Prost's rears, interlocked. So it's safe to say that Senna never won the corner.


That's probably because they weren't in the corner, they were in a straight. Prost wasn't turning into the corner, he was turning into the grass. Or are you saying that Prost's style was to turn into chicanes with no tangency whatsoever? Had Prost turned in intending to actually make the corner, Senna would have been long alongside.

Senna had made a habit of bullying Prost on the track


Tell me more about that. Or are you just taking Prost's words for it? It is true that Senna was a little rough on a couple of occasions during 88-89, but that was vastly outnumbered by the times he fought fair and square. The myth of Senna "the reckless bully" is totally overblown and it's wrongly being used against him in this case. His overtaking manouver consisted of swerving to the inside and braking later than Prost. Is there a simpler way to overtake someone? It was Prost who hit Senna, not the other way round.

So in this case I find it hard to determine that Prost did actually turn in on Senna the same way MS did on JV, the collision it most resembles (as far as title deciding collisions) is 1994, where the opinions are more mixed.


Hill's front wheels hit Schumacher's sidepods in the corner, Prost's front wheels hit Senna's front wing while turning in (too early). I fail to see any similarities.

#27 Rainstorm

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Posted 17 January 2001 - 22:35

Hi all,

The only case on trial here is the collision between Prost and Senna in 1989. Please don't divert this by debating over incidents that happened after the above event, and which involved entirely different people.

Thanks,

Rain

#28 Hans Etzrodt

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Posted 18 January 2001 - 04:51

Originally posted by mtl'78
An important issue to consider, as the marshalls do, is "who had the corner?". Senna was abreast of Prost, yet as Prost turns in, Senna's front wheels are not even past Prost's rear wheels. By the time they make contact, Senna's fronts are just past Prost's rears, interlocked. So it's safe to say that Senna never won the corner. This may very well be because Prost took it away from him, but it would still be his right to do so if this is the case.

As Montreal had stated, it all boils down to who had the corner. I believe all evidence has been brought forward by now, some of it very good. The two interesting video clips provided through the diligent effort by Drifter (thank you very much) have been the strongest evidence presented so far and have made it very clear to answer the Who, What, Where, When and How. It just leaves the Why to be assumed by all participants.

Please, try to have a second look at the two video clips, the best evidence yet brought forward. Try to look at it in an objective way. Ask yourself, was there truly enough room on the inside or did Senna try to force himself through? Do you really think – be honest now – that Prost was to give Senna way? Take yourself out of Senna’s seat and picture yourself driving in Prost’s car instead. Would you not have defended your position and moved a bit closer to the right? The best Senna could get out of this is that the whole incident could be claimed as a racing accident but I still think he ran out of braking space and slid into Prost. All this should actually be obvious from the video clips. As mtl'78 stated in the above quote, Senna never won the corner.

#29 Simioni

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Posted 18 January 2001 - 21:48


Ask yourself, was there truly enough room on the inside or did Senna try to force himself through? Do you really think – be honest now – that Prost was to give Senna way? Take yourself out of Senna’s seat and picture yourself driving in Prost’s car instead. Would you not have defended your position and moved a bit closer to the right? The best Senna could get out of this is that the whole incident could be claimed as a racing accident but I still think he ran out of braking space and slid into Prost. All this should actually be obvious from the video clips. As mtl'78 stated in the above quote, Senna never won the corner.


Hanz

There was room. Otherwise, how would Senna have got alongside? His whole car was still in the tarmac. Space only seized to exist when Prost turned into him. I'm having a hard time to see how Senna slid into Prost, if he was travelling straight the whole way. It was Prost who was turning, wasn't it? Do you really think that was his normal turn-in point?

#30 Frank

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Posted 19 January 2001 - 05:42

By looking at the second video clip (Suzuka3.mpg), at around 17 seconds, I noticed Prost already had turned his steering right about a quarter even before reaching the corner. I do not know his intention but why is he turning so much to his right which Senna is about half car length besides him?

#31 senninha

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Posted 20 January 2001 - 02:20

Originally posted by Billy
senninha,

could you provide the source of your quotes?


Yes, for sure.

Prost's and Piquet's interviews, and the statement about Prost's gearbox being shifted (not left in neutral) were taken from the "F1 Annuary 1989-1990", a publication from Portugal that has produced 28 years of annuaries, specially, by Portuguese Francisco Santos.

Video and computer prediction of Prost's manouvre - I have it tape recorded - there was a McLaren collective interview, to defend Senna, one week after the incident - "public relations" was Craig Brown.

BTW: I used the verb "changed" wrongly, trying to explain 89 grid positions - I want to say that Senna complained about the bad position of the grid but Balestre didn't hear him. In 90 was even worse, but BEFORE the qualyfing there was an agreement about the positions and Balestre, by phone, changed it after the qualifying.

#32 senninha

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Posted 20 January 2001 - 03:12

I'd like to say that I found, too, all Prost's interviews and Mclaren interview in a book named - "Ayrton Senna - The Hard Edge of Genius" - written by Christopher Hilton, from Britain.

#33 Billy

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Posted 20 January 2001 - 03:56

Thanks for providing the sources, senninha.

#34 Cinquecento

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Posted 22 January 2001 - 13:58

Judge's preamble:

"This case has been accepted for hearing, and it is the duty of this court to decide whether Alain Prost acted unsportingly on the track, deliberately causing the incident with Ayrton Senna in order to settle the championship in his favour."


I've watched the clips linked to by Drifter. Suzuka3 is of interest here, and I could perceive Prost steering his car to the right in an angle that seemed to be taking his right wheels over the curb and onto the grass and sand.

Whether he did that to collide with Senna, I maintain my position that the accusation is hypothetical. Hypothetically speaking then, if that were the case, it can be argued that he did it deliberately.

In the preamble we find words "unsportingly, deliberately, causing".

When do we say the incident that ended in the collision began? How much is included in the series of events that directly resulted in the collision?

Surely it's Prost's fault if we accept that he turned his car in too soon to hit Senna, and that's it. But what if we accept that he drove a Prostesque race, keeping Senna at bay and forcing Senna to try the impossible - come up from so far behind Prost couldn't see it coming before it was too late.

The case is against Prost, when it could as well be against Senna or both of them. F1 isn't drinking coffee in a happy family situation, as the legend has it, it is racing. Looking at the on-board Senna shot, he seems to be on his way to mess up the chicane pretty badly. He seems desperate, and his move seems deliberate and unsporting to me, surging up at an incredible speed. Did he cause this collision with his attempt? Can we say, as Simioni does, that when there's space, you can take it, or does the overtaker have sportsmanlike responsibilities to consider? Applying Simioni's logic, microseconds before the smash Prost took the space directly in front of Senna's car, and Senna should have braked and let him have it. Prost could have steered his course to the left and take the chicane nicely had Senna not been so out of control in his own approach.

My conclusion: Senna took his chance, it didn't pay off. Prost's move was no more unsporting that FIA's decision to let him keep his points and win the championship. Racing incident, in the wide sense of the term.

#35 Simioni

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 07:47

Cinquecento,

As it has been already pointed out, Senna was travelling at pretty much the same speed as Prost at the moment of impact, and they both slid just a few yards after contact took place. That indicates that they speed they were going was slow enough for them to make the corner. Remember that F1 cars have exceptional braking capability, so what might look too fast for you may actually be within the limits for a f1 driver.

If you accept those points, it becomes very hard to accuse Senna of forcing the issue because since they were so far away from the turn in point (and that is a visual fact), Senna could put himself in the inside if the door was opened, as long as the speed differential and braking area were big enough for him to get alongside before the turn-in point and claim the corner. If Prost wanted to cover the corner, the door should have been shut before Senna started to go for it. Braking in racing situations is not confortable enough to allow the overtaking driver to slow any more than he's already slowing, hence when a car is occupying a piece of road beside your car you cant just decide to move on over him, unless your turn in point is coming up quick and you have no other option other than go for the corner, in which case it would mean that the overtaking driver was indeed too late in his manouver. If you give the overtaken driver the right to turn in whenever he pleases, overtaking on the inside into slow corners are going to become much rarer than they are.

#36 Billy

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Posted 23 January 2001 - 11:36

I have a couple of points to clarify.

Firstly, mention has been made of the FIA's decision over this collision. Does anyone have a transcript of their findings?

Secondly, the video "suzuka3.mpg" stops just as they are about to show what appears to be a replay of a subsequent overtaking manoeuvre by Senna over Nannini at the same chicane. The video shows Senna right behind Nannini on the straight leading to 130R. Can someone provide the court with a full video of this incident, for comparison purposes with Senna's other overtaking attempt?

By the way, who was the expert commentator in "suzuka3.mpg"?

#37 Blade

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Posted 24 January 2001 - 02:41

It seems that Senna has the corner when I replay the mpeg using slow motion (mpg3), and from mpg3, it seems it's Prost's fault. But from mpg2 (without slow motion), it is clear that Prost brake normally for the corner. You can say Prost turned in a little bit to the right into the grass to cause this incident, but Senna was going way too fast for that corner. In other words, Senna should not be in a position beside Prost. If he is to catch up Prost, like it happened, Senna was already carrying too much speed for the corner. My judgement: Senna try to make another "kamikaze" passing on Prost, Prost simply had enough of his behavour, and its up to him to decide whether to yield Senna through or not. Its up to Prost hands to cause an incident. If Prost yield Senna through, senna would shoot through the chicane and able to continue. But I think Prost for his own benefit, take his line deviate a little bit to the right. Thus, an incident occurred. You can say its Prost's fault that he benefit from the accident. But I would compare this situation as if someone tail-gating me on the highway, and I have to brake hard when the traffic in front of me suddenly stop. I know the guy behind me can't stop fast enough (since he is tailgating me), and I could make the consideration to pull my car onto the shoulder. But, I have enough from the aggressive driving from the car behind me so I didn't pull over the shoulder. You can said its my fault for me to benefit from this accident by not pulling over the shoulder and getting a new bumper.. But, in the real sense, the guy at fault its the guy behind me. So, I think Senna is to blame for this accident.

#38 magic

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Posted 29 January 2001 - 23:33

'senna, the rightfoot of god' , author jan segers, first edition '94, page 95, on suzuka '89.

'...ronald bruynseraede, director of the course:
'five years on i think: maybe we did make a mistake.
maybe we should have blackflagged senna immidiately.
in that case we'd saved ourselves a lot of trouble.
but instead we, because of the importance of the duel, took our time to reach a decision.
maybe we should have been more strict.
pay attention: that's what i say now, in hindsight'.

in hindsight, after rewatching the video images, the impression was that alain prost could have avoided the coming together, if he had gone to the middle of the track a little bit earlier.
in doing so he could have taken away the illusion that the door was open.
but is that what he wanted?
senna should have known prost only could profit of a coming together.
still he chose to take his chances....'



#39 Cinquecento

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Posted 30 January 2001 - 14:00

Billy,

I spent some time ploughing in the net to find the FISA ruling, with no luck.

Here is a link to a site which briefly mentions both the ruling and Senna's overtaking manoeuvre of Nannini. Hardly strong evidence, but perhaps worth a look.

http://www.glink.net...ials/suzuka.htm

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#40 Blade

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Posted 31 January 2001 - 18:13

Well, my question remains.. "Why did Prost have to let Senna through to avoid an accident, when Prost is in front of Senna?". For those who think its Prost fault for this incident, I think you expect everyone in front of Senna should move over Senna so he can overtake. You can say "if Prost close the door earlier, then this incident would never happen", but I could also say "If Senna choose to stay behind Prost and overtake later after the chicane, this incident would never happen either." But it really doesn't matter. Since Senna is dead.



#41 Billy

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 05:44

Thanks Cinquecento. The webpage mentions

Senna was disqualified on 8 counts by FISA (then FIA), including the dangerous overtaking manoeuvre. FISA was themselves responsible for the crash. Before Suzuka'89 they did nothing to suppress dangerous driving. They did not warn Senna until Senna appealed. They imposed only a suspended ban which meant nothing at all.

This suggests that McLaren appealed against the Senna disqualification, and at that hearing Senna was asked to face "8 counts". It is not clear whether these "8 counts" related directly to the collision with Prost. Can anyone clarify what was discussed at the original stewards meeting, the appeal hearing, and to confirm the details of the "suspended ban" applied to Senna?

I also remind all interested parties that the time for hearing evidence will conclude on the 3nd of February.[p][Edited by Billy on 02-01-2001]

#42 Billy

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 06:04

Originally posted by Blade
But it really doesn't matter. Since Senna is dead.

By giving evidence at this trial, it clearly shows you believe this issue does matter. I remind all people giving evidence to show respect and sensitivity when dealing with the issue of death in Formula One, and to keep their remarks relevant to the issue of the collision between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1989.

#43 Bex37

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 10:54

Originally posted by Rainstorm
it is the duty of this court to decide whether Alain Prost acted unsportingly on the track, deliberately causing the incident with Ayrton Senna in order to settle the championship in his favour.


There are three elements of this trial.
1)Did AP act unsportingly?
2)Did AP deliberately cause the incident?
3)If so, did he do it so he could win the championship?

Element 2 - Intent
In my opinion, and after looking at the video footage, the answer to point 2 has to be yes. My reasoning for this is that the video footage shows that Prost was not at all surprised when he made contact with Senna and thus he must have either; known that Senna's car was next to him or; didn't really care where Senna's car was since it was of no concern of his if he and Senna collided.

To prove my assertion that Prost was not surprised to have hit Senna, look at Prost's hand movements prior to and during the accident. A drivers reaction to making contact as you turn into a corner is usually one of avoidance. That is, Prost's reflex reaction to the collision should have been a sharp left turn. Instead, Prost momentarily and violently moves the wheel to about an almost central position. You will note that this happens at exactly the same time as Prost and Senna make contact. Knowing how direct the steering is on an F1 car, it is entirely reasonable to conclude that this steering movement was purely a result of the force feedback through the steering from the force of the collision. This is supported by Prost's reaction after the collision. He subsequently turns the steering wheel to a point that is further to the right than his initial steering input prior to the collision. This is the reaction of a man who is purposely trying to collide, not someone who is surprised that he collided.

If the above has convinced you as it has me, we can now figure out when AP did realise that Senna was next to him. At about 13 seconds on the video (which is well before the collision as described above which happens at about 19 seconds), Prost makes his initial turn in. In my opinion, this was meant to move Prost to a line where Senna could not pass on the inside. Unfortunately, Prost notices that Senna is already on the inside and momentarily returns the steering wheel a few degrees towards centre in surprise. Realising that the championship is lost, he turns the steering wheel to a position that is not really intended to meet the corner's apex; it is intended to be a collision. After the initial reflex, the steering input is now pointing the car at the start of the long ripple strip and this is clearly not the racing line. This explains exactly why Prost shows no reflex reaction to the collision itself.

It is of no consequence here whether Senna's passing move was fair. This has nothing to do with Prost's intent to hit Senna. However, this may be an input to Prost's motive that created the intent. This is covered under the Element 3.

Element 1 - Unsportsmanlike behaviour
There was clearly a dispute between Prost and Senna prior to this incident. In 1998 at Estoril, Prost felt that Senna had tried to push him into the wall on the straight. In 1989 at Imola, Prost felt that Senna had reneged on a gentleman's agreement not to pass on the first corner. Both of these incidents have two sides to the story and, perhaps, both drivers were entitled to their own view since they were not sitting in the same car at the time. Why wouldn't there be two views, when there were two views, so to speak.

Giving Prost the benefit of the doubt, I would have to say that a more defensive attitude would have been an understandable attitude. Prost should not have to sit back and take the flack without defending himself. Having said that, defense of a corner starts before the brakes are applied and can sometimes start on the entry to the previous corner as you seek superior straight line speed. To defend a line whilst on the outside of another car is futile and dangerous. This is no secret to any race driver unless you race on an oval.

Giving Senna the benefit of the doubt, Prost's move was even worse.

Either way, the move was not the act of a good sportsman. Even in the situation where Prost is given the benefit of the doubt, the possible motives for such an act are not conducive to good sportsmanship. It was not an act of defence as the position was indefencable, it was either an act of revenge or an act of blatant title grabbing.

It is also worth considering that Prost had a huge amount of experience in F1 and he was well known as a driver who was able to keep out of trouble. It follows that this type of incident is more likely to have been premeditated than with other less skilled drivers.

Element 3 - Did he do it to win the championship?
I have already established that Prost's motive could not have been defence and that it could only be revenge or a title grab. Only Alain Prost can answer this one, however, it is my opinion that Prost must have had a premeditated reply to certain passing moves from Senna. This is evidenced by the positive and purposeful way in which Prost turned into Senna after he had already had the initial surprise reflex to steer away. He even held the right turn steering position after the initial impact (he does straighten, but only after the full impact has been felt and the cars are entangled). Perhaps he had only premeditated the reaction in the situation where Senna was doing a desparate. Never-the-less, premiditation is still apparent.

In addition, it is worth considering that an escape road existed at the chicane. Prost could have steered left, released the brakes, and passed harmlessly through the escape road. Prost was not concerned with rejoining the circuit. This is evidence by the fact that he kept his brakes on (and locked) all the way to a stop. It is well known amongst open wheeler drivers that if you want to cause a serious accident, you tangle your wheels together and then go at a different speed to the car next to you. This usually results in broken suspension as the tyres hit each other. As an open wheeler driver, Prost's reaction should have been one of keeping the car moving rather than stopping, particularly whilst another car that was definitely going to want to finish the race, was locked together with him. He should have kept the car moving at a relatively predicable speed for the other driver, turned left to untangle the cars and then tried to re-enter the circuit. None of this happened. As soon as the cars locked together, Prost was quite happy to keep them locked and to keep the brakes locked.

You may ask why Senna didn't take evasive action. The reason Senna didn't turn right at the corner is that he was tangled with Prost's wheels. Senna couldn't possibly have untangled the wheels because he would have had to slow down quicker than Prost. But of course, Prost had forced Senna over the chicane's ripple strip and had locked his wheels, making it impossible for Senna to untangle his wheels from Prost's.

It is fair to assume that Prost would have known that the consequence of both drivers failing to finish was that Prost would win the title. In premeditating the act of purposely colliding, Prost would have no choice but to realise the consequence of such an action. Whether this consequence was the sole motive or an attractive result of revenge, it must have surely helped in making the decision. Conversely, a situation where a collision with Senna would have meant the loss of the championship for Prost would most likely have made Prost avoid the accident in a more fervent manner.

Summary
Prost had the intent. This is proven in the video by the hand movements, the timing of the hand movements and the lack of any reflex reaction at the time of the collision. You would expect such reflex reactions from any second rate race driver, never lone a multiple world champion. Further, it is probable that the video shows a reflex reaction well before the collision when there would have been a good opportunity to avoid the collision by using the escape road or other means.

Due to the existance of intent, it follows that Prost acted in an unsportsmanlike manner. His manner may have been understandable, but that type of driving would never be the trademark of a true sportsman. It is the trademark of someone seeking revenge or someone trying to secure a championship.

It is likely that Prost was trying to win the championship whilst having the accident. Prost intent appeared to be premeditated. Even after the collision had occured, there continued to be no reflex to the left. In addition, Prost kept his brakes locked until both cars were at a halt.

If the collision was premeditated, he must have had a motive. It is impossible to prove beyond doubt that title grabbing was Prost's sole motive, however, their are only two possible motives; revenge or championship grabbing. It would have been impossible for Prost to premeditate a collision where he takes Senna off without considering the consequences of Prost's subsequent winning of the title. For mine, this tips the balance in favour of a championship grab.

I respectfully request that the defendant be found guilty on all three counts your honour.

Notwithstanding, it is my opinion that Prost should keep the championship title. As previously mentioned by others, there are many incidents that go unnoticed during a season. The rules should be consistant all season long and not just for one race which happens to be a title decider and happens to result in tabloid headlines. Prost could defend such an unsportsmanlike act on the basis of acceptance of such acts prior to Suzuka 89 by the FIA. There are many that have been shown to the largest sporting audience in the world that the FIA could not possibly have missed.

#44 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 13:11

I must point out that there is a substantial difference between a driver seeing another behind him and thinking "I'm either going to A) take my normal line or B) take a defensive line but either way I'm not moving out of the way" and maliciously deciding that you are going to get in the overtaking driver's way in an attempt to eliminate him from competition.

#45 Simioni

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Posted 01 February 2001 - 16:29

Billy,

After the suzuka race, Ballestre disqualified Senna for taking a shortcut through the chicane's escape area. Afterwards Senna accused the FISA of fixing the championship in favour of Prost, which infuriated Ballestre. When Senna and mclaren appealed, the FISA fired back with 5 (not 8) accusations of dangerous driving, extending his punishment to a 6 month ban and a US$ 100.000 fine. Senna was being blamed for his crash with Jean-Louis Schlesser in Monza the year before, the first corner accident in brazil, for driving accross the road at the start in france after his gearbox broke, for his crash with disqualified Mansell in portugal and for the shortcut taken in suzuka. Several question marks were imposed over Ballestre and the FISA at the time, because not only Senna's blame in those accidents were highly arguable, but also the FISA hadn't done anything about it when those incidents took place. No warning nor race-suspended ban had been imposed, and in fact no legal action was taken against Senna for those supposed infractions, it was all brought up from nothing only to justify Senna's ban in suzuka. The 6 month ban and subsequent denial of Senna's superlicense was an arbitrary punishment from Ballestre, and he made it clear by announcing it would all be forgotten if Senna retracted from his accusations of unfair manipulation of the championship. That eventually happened early on 1990, when Ron Dennis and Honda finally convinced Senna to go back in his statement.

Back in 95 or 96, Ballestre gave a statement saying that he had indeed given Prost "a little hand" in 1989. Probably nothing but an attempt to get back in the spotlight, but it gave great insight of the man's character.

#46 jimm

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Posted 02 February 2001 - 18:24

Here's my 2 cents.

It is no different than Jerez'97 accept for the fact that Prost never really admitted it.

Submission #1: A couple of years ago Motor Sport printed an article written by Jo Ramirez, Prost's chief engineer at the time. He said it was obvious that it was intentional. This is his Chief engineer which means that he had access to the data log and some pretty strong insight into Prost's character. He also said he thinks this is one thing that Prost really regrets and it was obvious that it was outside his normal actions because he was so bad at making it look like an accident.

Submission #2: as mentioned before, If you observe Prost's own line going into the same corner from the beginning of the race, Prost turned in at least 5 yards earler before the collision than he did in the normal taking of the corner.

why did he turn in earlier???

1. He wanted to take Senna Off.
2. He wanted to stop Senna from passing even if that meant a collision.
3. He just had a different driving style than most.
4. He changed his style as the raced progressed.

Rebut to 3: Autocourse 1989 had a picture of Senna and Prost going through the same point of the same corner. There may have been about 1 inch difference between their lines (which was the point of the picture). So on the surface it does not sound right. Add to that, in an interview in Chequered Flag 1995, Prost states that Senna's setups were very similar to his, in fact closer to his than anyone else he ever drove with. Does not sound like their driving styles (or at least their lines) should be all that much different.

Rebut to 4: This is before refueling. The car is getting lighter which means it brakes better which means one would tend to turn in latter as the race wore on because of staying in the power longer, not earlier. Add to that Prost changes this point from wht he had been doing just 4 or 5 laps before.

1 or 2: Only Prost knows for sure. I'll be nice and say #2 because I think down deep Prost was a classy guy and this was really his only on track action like this. He was always very fair with other drivers but maybe that is because he always thought he was better than the rest until Senna came along. Anyway, still means it is his fault.

Submission #3: His behaviour right after the collision makes it look wrong. After the collision, there was nothing wrong with his car but he abandons it. If he goes back on the track, he still wins the race. They have about a lap on everyone else, Senna has to replace the wing, so if Prost stays in the car he never lets Nannini catch him and Senna does not have the laps after the pitstop. His abandoning of a functioning car makes it seem like he felt like the job was done and it was time to go home.

#47 Ross Stonefeld

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Posted 03 February 2001 - 08:07

Alain Prost definately turned in early, on a defensive line. How though can we assume he had the intent to remove the overtaking driver? Blocking and defensive driving is a part of racing, and the majority do not have the intent to remove the other driver or the both of you from the road surface.


#48 magic

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Posted 03 February 2001 - 15:26

well Ross, maybe winning the '89wdc had something to do with it.

#49 Simioni

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Posted 03 February 2001 - 15:29

Originally posted by Ross Stonefeld
Alain Prost definately turned in early, on a defensive line. How though can we assume he had the intent to remove the overtaking driver?


Because Senna was already there when Prost started turning? If you decide to take a defensive line that late, when the other guy is already diving inside you, chances are that you're gonna have a collision...

#50 jimm

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Posted 03 February 2001 - 18:36

2 points to answer Ross:

1: If his intent was to be defensive then why did he not drive more to the middle of the track and move over only at the last moment to turn into the corner. It stops Senna from having a look, it still gives you a good line through the corner and even if your a little slow in the middle, it is single file so Senna has to wait for Prost to accelerate before he can so there is no way to out drag Prost out of the corner. Prost knows this.

2: It is not as though Prost turned in BEFORE Senna was well along side. Senna was clearly already beside and traveling at close to the same speed as Prost before Prost turned in. This is not being defensive it is being belligerent. Add that to the "warning" that Prost gave before the race it seems that much like what Senna did to him a year later that he had planned that if the situation arised that where Senna was attempting a pass he was going to turn regardless. Had Senna started his lunge after or as Prost started to turn then it is Senna's fault. If Senna was just barely beside him and Prost turned in then it is Senna's as well. If Senna pulls in very quickly just before Prost turns in then it is just a racing accident because Senna was trying and Prost just didn't see a n wham. But Senna pulls down beside, they travel at the same speed and then Prost turns. Prost's fault.