Sunday September 10th, 2000
Former Formula One driver Jacques Laffite has called for the introduction of an electronic warning system for fire marshalls after the death of a marshall at the Italian Grand Prix on Sunday.
Italian volunteer fire marshall Paolo Gislimberti died from the injuries he received from flying debris during a dramatic opening lap crash at the second chicane.
While the race continued in front of thousands of cheering fans Gislimberti received emergency treatment at the side of the track with first aid staff pumping his chest.
He was then taken to the course medical centre before being transferred to a hospital in Monza where he died.
Gislimberti is reported to have received serious injuries to his head, throat and chest.
Frenchman Laffite, who raced 176 times in a lengthy career with Renault before his career was ended by two broken legs from a first lap crash at the 1986 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch, said technology offered a way to protect fire marshalls.
"It is very difficult to improve on the safety of the cars, but if on the track there was an electronic warning light for the marshalls and firemen then they would not need to go out to check the flag. There is so much electronics in Formula One today that I don't think it would be so difficult to find a solution," Laffite told Reuters.
Currently marshalls and fire staff must come out to the edge of the track and stand behind barriers to check if a warning flag has been raised. This brings them dangerously close to the action.
Gislimberti was on the edge of the track by the second chicane where six cars crashed out of the race with debris, flying through the air and cars skidding out of control in thick smoke.
Laffite said the drivers had heeded Michael Schumacher's call to be responsible but said chicanes in general were behind most of the safety problems in Formula One.
"Racing is still dangerous and I am relieved that there were no injuries to the drivers but I deplore the death of the young fire marshall. The drivers were responsible, there were no problems at the start, but I don't like chicanes in general. All accidents in the world seem to happen before or after chicanes".