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banner Saturday, 26 May, 2001, 17:33 GMT 18:33 UK
Ralf: Monaco is not safe
Ralf Schumacher
Ralf only races at Monaco because he has to
By BBC Sport Online's Andrew Benson in Monaco

The Monaco Grand Prix track has become too dangerous for Formula One, according to Williams driver Ralf Schumacher.

The German believes that Grand Prix racing has outgrown the street track, which has hosted F1 since 1929.

Schumacher said: "We shouldn't be racing here. It's dangerous. If it was down to me we wouldn't come here. I only race here because I have to."

F1 drivers and team members often say that Monaco is too narrow, and lacking the run-off areas that are seen as standard elsewhere.

It has the potential to be dangerous
  Williams technical director
Patrick Head
But this is the first time in a long time that a driver has stated that the risks outweigh the excitement of the challenge.

However, Ralf's brother Michael Schumacher disagrees.

Along with most of the other drivers, he loves the challenge of the track, and believes that the risk is worth it for one race a year, even if he admits that "you have to deal very carefully with it".

Patrick Head, the technical director of Williams, said: "It has the potential to be dangerous, but it's record does not show it to be unusually dangerous.

"It is a different race and venue, and it is a place with a fantastic history. It gets a lot of attention and there are lots of reasons for it to carry on - some of which are commercial.

Michael Schumacher
Brother Michael disagrees with Ralf
"But it would be a pity to lose it. Many drivers find it a great challenge and variety is the spice of life."

Monaco is the jewel in F1's crown, and is the prime location for teams to bring existing sponsors and impress potential ones.

But Mario Thiessen, motorsport director of Williams' engine supplier BMW, warned that Monaco puts spectators at a bigger risk than anywhere else on the calendar.

"It would be a pity to lose it, but I do think it is critical for safety, especially for spectators. So far, it has not been particularly dangerous, but I hope we do not have a serious accident."

F1 insiders are aware that a bad accident in which spectators were killed or injured, could put the future of the sport at risk.

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