Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Track Intruder Released on Bail

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 said.

"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 news agency.

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 a Ferrari.

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.

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