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Old 03-03-2001, 10:54 PM   #1
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Unhappy Marshal Dies in Australia F1 Accident

A Very sad start to the F1 season. May he rest in peace.

Michael Schumacher's victory in the opening grand prix of the season in Melbourne today was overshadowed by the death of a marshal, after an accident involving Schumacher's younger brother Ralf and Jacques Villeneuve.

The incident happened on lap five when Villeneuve collided with Schumacher under braking for turn three as the French Canadian attempted to pass the Williams on the outside.

The cars made contact and Villeneuve's car cannoned off the rear wheels of Schumacher's Williams. The BAR was thrown into the barriers on the outside of the track at close to 140mph and Villeneuve was lucky not to roll over completely as he continued his wild ride into the run off area. It's thought that the marshal recieved his fatal injuries from one of Villeneuve's wheels, both front wheels flew off the BAR in the accident.

Michael Schumacher was informed of the marshal's death after the race and the podium ceremony took place in an understandably sombre atmosphere.

At the time of writing there was no information about the marshal's identity although it's believed that some spectators were also hurt in the crash. The safety car was scrambled for 10 laps as debris was cleared and the stricken marshal was treated at trackside.

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Old 03-04-2001, 12:05 AM   #2
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Old 03-04-2001, 01:21 AM   #3
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Damn, that's no good. My heart goes out to the family.

(Edit: Re-read it sober, and realized it wasn't a driver, my bad)

[This message has been edited by Impreza Rider (edited March 04, 2001).]
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Old 03-04-2001, 01:28 AM   #4
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Uh, i could have read it wrong, but i usually don't. marshal wasn't a driver it was an actual safety marshall for the event. Like a corner marker, etc.
Truly a shame because (in all seriousness) it's damn hard to find dedicated people to Marshal races.
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Old 03-04-2001, 06:52 AM   #5
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I watched the race last night on Speedvision. That was a horrendous crash and impact with the wall and fence (the sound of the crash made you want to wince). I wasn't surprised that track workers were hurt as debris was flying everywhere. Really a tough way to start the season for F1.

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Old 03-04-2001, 08:20 AM   #6
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I have worked as a corner worker for my local
Porsche club races. I know the risks and have had to avoid spinning 911s.

My heart felt sympothy goes out to the family of the stricken corner worker.

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Old 03-04-2001, 10:44 AM   #7
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Danger is everywhere in racing. My heart goes out to the family of the worker killed.
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Old 03-04-2001, 11:29 AM   #8
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This is the report from the Sydney Morning Herald..

The former Formula One world champion Jacques Villeneuve said last night he was saddened and in shock after a tyre flew off his car and killed a flag marshal during the Australian Grand Prix.

The 50-year-old marshal, from Queensland, was hit in the chest 10 minutes into the race when Villeneuve's BAR Honda all but disintegrated after he somersaulted into the wall after clipping Ralf Schumacher's Williams during a 260 km/h overtaking attempt.

Related story
Australian Grand Prix wrap


The marshal appears to have been hit when the tyre flew through a narrow gap in the trackside fence designed to stop crash debris. A number of spectators received minor injuries.

Villeneuve said: "This is very, very heavy. These guys don't expect to lose their lives working on the track. It is very sad because they are there to help us. It is going to take a while to absorb the meaning of this because of the shock I am feeling."

Describing the crash, he said: "Ralf was in the middle of the track and I didn't know whether to go left or right. I decided to go to the outside but he jumped on the brakes and I couldn't get out of the way.

"It hit very hard. This was a big big one. It is a good thing the survival cell worked. When it started to fly I was just hoping not to hit anything with my head."

The tragedy hit the drivers hard. On the victory dais the race winner, Ferrari's Michael Schumacher - Ralf's brother - second-placed David Coulthard (McLaren) and the third-placed Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) were sombre.

There was no traditional spray of champagne and apart from a polite wave to the crowd the drivers left as quickly as possible.

Barrichello described the flag marshal as "a colleague who is there for you".

The dead man's daughter was reported to have been at the track during the race at Albert Park in Melbourne.

The chairman of the Grand Prix corporation, Mr Ron Walker, said everything would be done to ensure that the marshal's family was taken care of, regardless of insurance.

Race organisers and the body running the sport, the FIA, will now have to revise the rules on safety fencing, which was clearly not high enough to contain the debris from Villeneuve's car.

FIA stewards held an inquiry straight after the race but found that no driver had been at fault and that it was "a racing incident".


With now 2 marshals killed in the last 6 months it looks as if the FIA must surely urgently look into trackside safety from the point of the track workers.

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Old 03-04-2001, 12:32 PM   #9
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I watched the race and heard the news at the post race interview. Very sad indeed.
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Old 03-04-2001, 08:03 PM   #10
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Heard this news this morning. Sad.
I can't help to wonder if there has been any fatalities in WRC of late. Anyone know of marshalls getting killed in WRC or worse spectators in the last coupla years? Looks like F1 been claiming quite a few lives over the last few years.
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Old 03-04-2001, 10:07 PM   #11
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I watched our early morning news here this morning.. they had home video footage from another angle... and I am surprised that Jacques wasn't hurt at all.. his car was everywhere after it hit the wall.
Also, it was reported that the wheel that hit the marshal went through the little gap between the concrete and the wire mesh that enables the corner workers to get to the track in case there was a track incident.

[This message has been edited by Adrian128 (edited March 04, 2001).]
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Old 03-04-2001, 10:41 PM   #12
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Gambit, there have been 2 fatalities in F1 in the last 7 years, both marshals (corner workers). The last was a marshall at Monza last year, again hit by debris after the huge first lap shunt that it was miraculous non of the drivers were injured in. Prior to Imola (Ratzenburger/Senna ) in 1994 there hadnt been a fatality since 1982 when Ricardo Paleti was killed at the start of the race in Montreal. Please lets keep to facts.

The crash reminded me of Greg Moores acident, i was very worried for Jaques.

It seems the drivers are now very protected, maybe more efforts are required to protect the marshalls, as technically in F1 they are no longer required to be at flag posts as all the cars have warning lights on the dashboard that automatically come on for yellow/blue flags.

The plan is to use these only from 2003, these plans include automatic speed control of the cars through yellow flag areas to allow for the removal of the safety car from races and remove the bunching up effect that bringing the safety car onto the track creates. Maybe this will be brought into effect sooner now.

I have worked as a track marshall and on the rescue crews in Rallies, those who do this have a passion for the sport and realise the risks involved. It is the responsibility of all involved in motorsport to try and eliminate the risks as much as possible, i am sure that some lessons will be learned from this.

Sadly, some risks will always remain, the physics of 600KG of racing car travelling at 200MPH simply means there are forces you cant control fully, it's a fact that everyone involved takes on board and does there upmost to protect themselves from.

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Old 03-04-2001, 11:35 PM   #13
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when i was watching the race, at first i was not happy when i heard that Jacques had crashed out (as i wanted him to win!), but when i saw the clip, i was amazed and thank god he was alright (after his car pretty much lost everything except the cockpit)

and while watching the race with my roommate, we were talking about building some sort of simple protection system for the corner workers... this would basically be an L-shape, bullet-proof glass (or plastic, or whatever material that is transparent and still can stand the impact), with each of the 2 sides of the L having the dimension of 8 ft. height x 4 ft. wide

simple diagram looks like this (top view):


track (traffic going -> way)


||======= (<- glass wall)
|| corner
|| worker (safety cell)
|| here
=========== (wall/barrier)

this way they can still quickly get to the track if they have to (from the open side, see what's happening on the track (glass-wall), and wave the flag (open-top, or from the back opening)

i figure that with the speed the F1 cars are going, most impact of flying debris is probably shooting along the direction of car's travel (which is forward or sideway), so the opening on the backside should be alright

anyways, this is just something we came up after we saw the accident and heard the news... i'm sure F1 is gonna come up with something better to use until the electronics flag system is fully in us

[edit] diagram

[This message has been edited by cj917 (edited March 04, 2001).]
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Old 03-05-2001, 06:48 AM   #14
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Definately not a good start for the season.
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Old 03-05-2001, 09:00 AM   #15
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Can anyone explain how the system that is supposed to keep wheels from flying off works? It does not seem to work very often. It is some type of chain restraint system or something?? Also, I'll use this space to say Congratulations to Juan Montoya on a great 1st race until his bimmer pooped out.
May the marshall rest in peace.
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Old 03-05-2001, 09:16 AM   #16
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I believe the system consist of two steel cables with a cross section of 8mm each. That gives you a total cross-section of 16mm. I may not have the numbers exact (which is amazing as Steve Matchett talked about them a dozen times during the race itself). One of the front tires was prevented from flying off by the cables, but the other one, which impacted the wall, did not.

Because of the impact, its entirely possible that the mounting points for the cables were actually torn off the car.
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Old 03-05-2001, 10:24 AM   #17
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Damn, this kind of $hittt needs to stop. It ruins the entire race. But thats the way of the world. Cost and Speed always come before Safety, way before. I don't know what to say. I just hope that changes are made to protect those that bring us our beloved motorsports. Without them, we wouldn't have a WRC or Formula 1 circuit.
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Old 03-05-2001, 10:39 AM   #18
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i know the champ cars have been much better about flying wheels after that incident at michigan a few years ago that killed those four spectators. this is a shame, but hopefully it will cause safety to increase.
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Old 03-05-2001, 11:02 AM   #19
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I still think the F1 safety rules are 100x better than NASCAR. Lots less deaths in F1 than NASCAR from what i understand. I feel saddened for his family/friends.

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Old 03-05-2001, 11:32 AM   #20
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Sunrise City Rider, I think you are being very harsh and unrealistic in stating costs come before safety in F1, that simply isnt the case.

The FIA has made huge steps forward in safety for everyone at the race circuits, more can be done, the quest for safety should never stop but this is taken seriously and huge amounts of money is being spent to improve things year on year.

If you look at the safety record of F1 and the perminant facilities that have been built to support the doctors should the unthinkable happen then you really cannot state that safety is being put second.

As to the wheel tethers, they cannot withstand infinate levels of force, nothing is unbreakable. They consist of two steel ropes that are connected to the wheels uprights, the wheels cannot come away from the upright due to a locking device. The wire ropes then pass through the top wishbone and down into an anchoring point in the bottom of the chassis.

The exact definition as set out in the FIA technical rules is "10.3.4) In order to help prevent a wheel becoming separated in the event of all suspension members connecting it to the car failing, two cables, each with
separate attachments, must be fitted to connect each wheel/upright assembly to the main structure of the car. The cables and their attachments must be designed in order to help prevent a wheel making contact with the driver's head during an accident.
The length of each cable should be no longer than that required to allow normal suspension movement.
Each complete cable restraint system, including their attachments, must have a minimum tensile strength of 50kN and each cable must be flexible with a minimum diameter of 8mm."

If you are interested in all the safety and technical rules for any FIA sanctioned event, be it F1, F3000, WRC etc then you can visit the oficial FIA web site. http://www.fia.com/
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Old 03-06-2001, 01:59 AM   #21
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If any of you are interested in seeing the crash footage, there are three different camera angles at http://www.f-1.ru/video/01/melbourne/index_e.html None of them show the marshal, which is good.

Ross N.
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