mario wrote:All in all, I think that Chapman might have been acquitted by the jury on the ground that the crash barrier was the cause of death for Rindt, but I strongly suspect that, had some of those details come out in court, it would have hurt the reputation of Chapman and Team Lotus quite badly.
I agree with you Mario (as is usually the case) that Chapman might have been acquitted. Personally I think he should have been. As I don't believe team principles / members should be held to account when one of their racing drivers are killed in their car. Unless, of course, a clear intention to murder can be proved against them.
The thing that does make me question this, however, is other incidents where the Italian authorities have accused either a driver or team responsible for a death in an F1 event.
For instance, I believe, the Italian authorities where trying (abeit unsuccessfully) to blame Jim Clark for the tragic death of Wolfgang von Trips & the fifteen spectators at the 1961 Italian Grand Prix. Although I can't quite remember the details of that particular case. Also there was the time where the Italian authorities tried to hold members of the Williams team responsible for the death of Senna in 1994. In fact I think there is something in Italian law, which states that someone must be held responsible for a death in a sport activity or something like that. However since I am not an expert in this field I can't be sure.
So had Chapman been charged, one cannot be 100% sure how the Italian authorities might have re-acted if faced with all these details in court.
In any case, I agree with you that had those details come out in court it would have hurt the reputation of Chapman and Team Lotus quite badly. To the extend that even if Chapman was acquitted, then he probably would have had to resign from Lotus afterwards anyway. Furthermore I feel it is likely Lotus probably would have to restructure the team, simliar to how Renualt had to restructure after 'Crashgate'.
Otherwise F1 drivers might have had second thoughts on driving for them, over fears on their cars safety. In fact in this month's Motorsport Magazine, either in the Emmerson Fittipaldi interview or the memories of the top F1 men of the 1960's article, someone said something along the lines of 'the perception at the time was although Lotus cars were fast, they were fragile & that might have put some drivers off ever driving for them'.
mario wrote:What is interesting is that Miles also pointed out how rashly Rindt and Chapman were acting during the practise sessions
IIRC in a BBC4 documentary shown last year, about the safety of F1 during the 1970's. It was stated that there was a bit of tension between Rindt & Chapman during the weekend of Monza 1970. Bascially Rindt had previously asked Chapman to bring the Lotus 49 car to Monza. As he felt the Lotus 72 car was too new & therefore unsafe. Particularly considering the high speeds reached at Monza. Appartently Chapman ignored this request & only brought the 72 car that fateful weekend.
mario wrote:Ultimately, that is not to refute the finding of the inquest - had that barrier been properly installed, and had Rindt, arguably, worn a proper safety harness (he only wore a belt around his waist), then it is possible that Rindt may have had a chance of surviving that accident.
For the benefit of those who might not be aware, apparently the reason why Rindt had only worn a belt around his waist, & not a proper safety harness, was because he felt this would be quicker in case of a fire.
mario wrote:However, it has to be said that the actions of the team did increase the chances of such an accident happening sharply, such that I feel that the chances that somebody would have been killed whilst driving the 72 was more a question of when rather than if.
Interesting thought indeed. I wonder to what extent (if any) did Rindt's accident help reign in Chapman approach to risk taking, when designing future F1 cars?