Sunday March 4th, 2001
In the wake of Sunday's fatal accident at the Australian Grand Prix, three-time world champion Jackie Stewart has called for improved circuit safety for trackside personnel and spectators.
A marshal was killed when hit by flying debris from the accident between Jacques Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher. And long-time safety campaigner Stewart believes the development of deformable cars has improved driver safety but he is concerned of the knock on effect.
"The trouble is that when it's a deformable structure it gets loose and therefore gets into the air," said Stewart. "At 200 to 300 kph then you don't know where that type of debris is going to go."
Stewart believes that although the wheel tethers did not function properly in the accident at Albert Park, the key to spectator safety lies more in track design and the policing of people on the circuit's edge.
"You have to ring fence the racetracks with higher and stronger debris fences," said the former Jaguar team boss. "The debris fencing there is very high and very, very strong, very expensive but it may be that we've got to go in this direction.
"You then have to police where the marshals stand, where there are protected areas, and make sure they don't go beyond those protected areas.
"We've got to try and do a housekeeping system that tries to remove as many of the unnecessary hazards as possible. After seeing what has happened this weekend we can't ignore it."
Early reports in the paddock suggest that a wheel from Villeneuve's car flew through a photographer's station window in the fencing and hit the marshal with fatal consequences.