Thursday September 13th, 2001
By Alan Baldwin
Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher struggled on Thursday to find adequate words to describe his shock at the terror attacks on New York.
But the German made clear that all of the Formula One community expressed its condolences and sympathy for those suffering in the city.
"It's pretty difficult to find the right expression for what has happened there and what we feel," the Ferrari driver told a news conference ahead of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix. "I think in all of us it is pretty much the same... the sympathy is naturally all with them and the support as much as we can support. It's going to be a tough time."
Formula One team principals met at Monza on Thursday and agreed that, for the time being at least, it was business as usual for the sport. But drivers will turn off their engines and, with all team personnel in the pit lane, join in a minute's silence at noon on Friday.
Fans have already been urged by organisers to keep celebrations to a minimum in the aftermath of the catastrophe that has hit America. Pre-race events, including a flypast by the Italian Tricolour Arrows display team, have been called off.
The Italian Automobile Club (ACI), the race organisers, urged fans to behave "in keeping with the gravity of the situation and in collective sympathy with the pain of American citizens." There will be no podium celebrations but officials have so far resisted suggestions that races may have to be cancelled or rescheduled.
"No question, for the moment we are racing here tomorrow and racing in America in two weeks' time and in Japan for the last race," Benetton team boss Flavio Briatore said after the 11 team principals gathered at Monza.
World Champions Ferrari, who won their third Constructors' Championship last month with Schumacher's fourth title, scrapped a planned media dinner scheduled for Saturday night.
Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo said on Wednesday that the weekend would now be just another race rather than a Ferrari festival. Williams boss Frank Williams said it was right for Monza to go ahead rather than be called off.
"You have to show that life goes on," he was quoted as saying in the Gazzetta dello Sport. "I have spoken about it with (Formula One supremo) Bernie Ecclestone and he also agrees."
Doubts still surrounded the U.S. Grand Prix scheduled for Indianapolis at the end of the month since the cars, fuel, tyres and other equipment must all be air-freighted into America.
"It has been a tremendous disaster and it will be a little time before the infrastructure is back to any kind of normality," said Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, who runs the European Aviation business. "I'm quite sure that we are all going to have to be a bit patient with delays around airports and security checks which may seem unnecessary and annoying at times but are actually necessary.
"There's not a lot you can do. Aircraft do fly over cities and it's been widely known for a long time that something like this could happen. We all feared the day," added the Australian.
Published at 14:46:34 GMT