Friday March 16th, 2001
By Timothy Collings
Formula One teams Williams and BAR have handed over data boxes to an inquiry into the death of a track marshal at the Australian Grand Prix 11 days ago, the teams said on Friday.
The marshal, Graham Beveridge, died after he was struck in the chest by a bouncing tyre which flew loose after Jacques Villeneuve's BAR car had crashed into Ralf Schumacher's Williams.
BAR-Honda team chief Craig Pollock and Williams technical director Patrick Head said that the accident was a racing incident and blame should not be apportioned.
Pollock said that the BAR team had been asked to supply the 'black box' which contained all of the car's performance data to the Australian authorities investigating the accident.
"We are helping them as much as we can. There is no reason to hold anything back. We gave them all we could," Pollock said.
Head said that the accident had proved that the newly-introduced system of double wheel tethers had failed.
"Looking at the data, Ralf's braking was fairly consistent, but the Michelin tyres had dipped in the early laps and produced a bit of understeer," Head said.
"I think Jacques thought that he could overtake and, whatever it was, there was a misjudgment and they hit each other.
"Fundamentally, the car came to a halt with Jacques safe, but all eight wheel ties parted and we have to have a good look at that."
Head added that he felt a lot of the safety features of the modern Formula One circuits were designed with cars on the ground and not in the air.
"It is very different with cars when they are off the ground," he said.
"In simple terms, I think the car survived quite well but the wheel ties failed to do their job and I am sure that some well balanced technical attention to that will be a good thing."
Pollock said: "I don't think that either driver lifting earlier, or later, going into the corner was the cause," said Pollock. "I think it was just a basic racing accident and that is the way I'd like to leave it."