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Monday, 3 September, 2001, 11:54 GMT 12:54 UK
Burti smash overshadows Schu win
Michael Schumacher flanked by David Coulthard and Giancarlo Fisichella
Schumacher (centre) celebrates his fifth F1 win at Spa
BBC motor racing correspondent Jonathan Legard looks back on another win for Michael Schumacher and a lucky escape for Luciano Burti.

Michael Schumacher's latest landmark means that his Grand Prix strike rate now stands at a remarkable one win every three races.

He's won 52 out of the 159 races he's started.

Alain Prost, the previous record holder, won 51 from 199 starts. Ayrton Senna managed 41 wins out of 161.

But for the enforced break after breaking his leg at Silverstone two years ago, Schumacher would surely have raced ahead of Prost even earlier.


Formula One (should) never complacent, always vigilant in monitoring the balance between speed and safety.
Jonathan Legard
His fifth victory at his favourite Spa-Francorchamps circuit - equalling Senna's record haul - was his eighth overall in 2001.

It leaves him one short of another record which he shares with Nigel Mansell for the most number of wins in a season.

With three races remaining, at Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka, you wouldn't bet too much against him re-writing another F1 entry.

'No justice'

Particularly if McLaren perform like they did in qualifying in Belgium and Williams repeat their race day mistakes.

Those who claim that Schumacher gets lucky too often do no justice to his champion's ability to make the best of his circumstances.

He has finished first or second in all but two races in 2001, and has never qualified lower than fourth, whatever the conditions.

David Coulthard
Coulthard: Ninth on the grid, second at the finish
At Spa, McLaren misjudged a drying track and left Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard to pick up the pieces from seventh and ninth on the grid respectively.

Williams got qualifying right by filling the front row then criminally fell over themselves when the road to victory looked a formality.

What were they doing leaving Ralf Schumacher's car on its jacks for the second restart?

No wonder Ferrari are so far ahead in both championships.

But it's not merely Michael Schumacher's skill in the car which is making the difference.

"Michael is an inspiration to the team," said Ross Brawn, Ferrari's technical director.

"He feels the sense of family within Ferrari and is motivated by that and that drives us on."

You only had to watch him at work on Saturday while fog hung over gloomily over the Ardennes Forest and delayed practice by two hours.

Brutal accident

What did Schumacher do? Sit in his race car and spare car and prepare both meticulously with his engineers, that's what.

Come qualifying, he used both cars - one set up for the wet and the other for the dry.

And come Sunday afternoon, which driver won the race?

It remains to be seen, however, how quickly Luciano Burti gets the chance to do that after his brutal accident.

Luciano Burti's mangled Prost car is removed from the track
Burti was left in better shape than his Prost
One Prost engineer likened it to smashing a Mini Cooper head-on into a brick wall at 150mph.

The fact that Burti survived is testimony to the lifesaving advances in F1 safety.

Yes, his helmet split, he was concussed and suffered severe bruising to his face and head.

But his car held together and protected him from far worse.

"The head and neck restraint played a key role in saving Luciano from serious injury," was Eddie Irvine's verdict.

He had worked to save his former Jaguar team-mate as tyres from the ruptured tyre wall collapsed onto the blue Prost car.

The head restraint is a deformable collar around the rim of the cockpit which includes foam in the head rest to absorb the impact of an accident.

Without it, according to David Coulthard, runner-up in Belgium, "Luciano could have suffered a fatal accident."

Mixed response

Coulthard is one of a number of drivers who've tested the Head And Neck Safety Device (HANS) which could replace the head restraint as early as 2002.

It's used already in the USA's CART championship but has so far had a mixed response within F1.

But FIA President, Max Mosley and F1 medical delegate, Professor Sid Watkins, believe that F1 cockpits could be modified to allow the device to be introduced next year.

Luciano Burti crashes during the German Grand Prix
Burti also survived this crash in Germany
The foam padding around the drivers legs, brought in this year, undoubtedly played a part in Burti's escape without broken bones.

Each team also underwent stringent crash tests on a car's side impact structure before the season.

The roll bars above the airbox were all strengthened as well.

If any team resented the cost, they should remember how Jacques Villeneuve survived his flight-by-concrete along a wall in Australia.

And how Michael Schumacher walked away from a 200mph crash in testing, and how Burti has survived terrifying accidents at Hockenheim and Spa.

Two marshals, in Melbourne this year and at Monza twelve months ago, weren't so fortunate.

That statistic alone should ensure Formula One is never complacent, always vigilant in monitoring the balance between speed and safety.

Links to more Formula One stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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