Monday July 31st, 2000
By Clifford Coonan
A Frenchman who breached security and crossed
the track midway through Sunday's German Grand Prix was released on Monday
on bail of 2,000 marks ($945) pending formal charges, German prosecutors
"There were no grounds for keeping him in investigative custody. We have
his address in France and don't think the man is going to try to escape,"
Oskar Gattner, a spokesman for public prosecutors in Mannheim, told the Sid
Formal charges could follow, Gattner said. Race organisers, who issued
civil charges of trespassing against the man, said they would decide on
further action after the prosecutors' office had made its report.
The 47-year-old father of three cut his way through the fence to protest
against his dismissal by carmakers Mercedes-Benz. He ran across the track
in the middle of a straight where cars reach speeds of more than 350
kilometres per hour.
The man worked for Mercedes-Benz, McLaren's Formula One partners, for 22
years before being dismissed for health reasons.
Hakkinen Finished Second
World champion Mika Hakkinen was then in the lead in a McLaren-Mercedes but
he eventually came second in a race won by Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in
Former Formula One driver Hans-Joachim Stuck said the intruder had an
effect on the race's outcome.
"The madman who jumped out on to this track definitely succeeded in
avenging himself on Mercedes," Stuck said.
The Hockenheim promoters, contracted to hold the race until 2001 and
fighting to keep it after that, could face sanctions for the way they
handled the incident.
"It's naturally very sad that something like this can happen here," said
Gustav Schrank, chairman of Hockenheimring GmbH and mayor of Hockenheim.
"We will cooperate with the police and everyone involved to stop anything
like this happening in the future."
Juergen Hubbert, a board member of DaimlerChrysler, said the incident could
have negative effects on the future of Hockenheim as a Formula One venue.
"If you are fighting to keep the rights to run a Grand Prix, then these
kind of incidents don't make a very good impression," he said.
But Schrank said he did not see any long-term consequences for Hockenheim.
"I spoke about the situation with (Formula One chief Bernie) Ecclestone and
he did not make any negative comments in this regard," he said.
The respected Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily said on Monday that the
man involved had previously made an appearance at the Grand Prix in
Magny-Cours where he distributed leaflets about his fate.