Monday March 5th, 2001
World champion Michael Schumacher has urged the sport's ruling body, the FIA, to improve safety in Formula One after a second marshal's death in five Grand Prix.
Schumacher decided not to celebrate his win at the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday with champagne on the podium after learning of the death of marshal Graham Beveridge in the race.
The German driver said the FIA have worked hard to improve safety on and around the tracks over the years, but he said safety reviews need to keep going and the improvements must be continually made.
"I think the problem is obvious," said Schumacher, who won the season-opener in Australia. "The FIA will look very intensively at it, as they have done since Monza. I am sure they will act in the right way.
"If we, the drivers from the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) can help, we will. But on the other hand, if you are honest, there is no area in life where you can be 100 per cent safe. That is the way it is.
"We very much regret what has happened and I want to send my condolences to the man and his family, as do all the drivers. I know that at this circuit, Albert Park, there are high safety fences, but we have to try and improve things more and more."
Beveridge was killed five races after fire marshal Paolo Gislimberti lost his life when he was hit by a wheel from after a crash at the start of the Italian Grand Prix in September.
Sunday's tragedy occurred after Jacques Villeneuve crashed into the back of Ralf Schumacher's BMW-Williams and spun into a wall and fence at 150 mph. The BAR car sent debris flying through gaps in the fence, used by marshals to get onto the track quickly in the event of an accident. It is believed Beveridge was hit by a wheel that came off the BAR.
New FIA regulations for this season stated that wheels must be connected to cars by two tethers which should keep it connected to the chassis in the event of a crash.
When Michael Schumacher crashed spectacularly in practice for the Australia race on Friday his wheels stayed connected by the tethers despite the car going through two barrel-rolls.
Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said the FIA face a difficult task to make the sport safer and insisted it will be hard to ensure that wheels stay on cars in every crash.
"It is very difficult for me to comment on how we can make things safer," said Brawn. "There are things that have been done since last year at Monza. The extra security on wheels, for instance.
"You could see from Michael's accident on Friday that the wheels did not come off the car. But Villeneuve's impact was so severe. It is difficult to know what you could do."