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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 May, 2003, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Refuelling to stay in F1
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor

Michael Schumacher sat coolly in his car while the fire burned in Austria
Schumacher's fire has made refuelling an issue in F1
Refuelling will stay in Formula One despite the fire suffered by Michael Schumacher in the Austrian Grand Prix.

Motorsport's governing body the FIA believes the practice is safe even though Ferrari's refuelling equipment leaked enough fuel to start a small fire during a pit stop at the A1-Ring on Sunday.

The equipment is designed to cut off in the case of a problem so no fuel can escape - and this happened soon enough in Austria for there to be no need for a re-evaluation of refuelling, an FIA spokesman said.

"It's business as usual with regard to refuelling - we haven't seen anything with this incident that would cause us to question that," the spokesman told the BBC Sport website.

The FIA has launched an investigation into what caused Ferrari's refuelling rig to leak, but it is not expected to be completed until later this week. Ferrari have concluded that a damaged fuel hose caused the leak.

Schumacher's fire was the fourth since refuelling was reintroduced into F1 in 1994 - but it was also the least serious.

Jos Verstappen suffered the first modern refuelling fire in 1994
Verstappen suffered minor burns in this fire in 1994
The first and most dramatic fire happened in the 1994 German Grand Prix, when Jos Verstappen's Benetton caught fire.

In a statement, FIA president Max Mosley told the BBC Sport website: "After the Verstappen fire, the fuel delivery hose was modified to incorporate a fail-safe cut-out system which did work on this occasion and prevented any serious blaze.

"What we need to know from Ferrari is precisely what occurred to create the residue of petrol and how it ignited.

"If there is to be a fire, then better in the pitlane where it can be dealt with efficiently and expertly than somewhere out on the track."

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn believes F1 would not be safer if refuelling was banned because cars would have to carry a full race load of fuel from the start.

But Williams technical director Patrick Head said a major fire would be dangerous whether the car was fuelled for the entire race or just part of it.

"It's very difficult to equate one with the other," Head told BBC Radio Five Live.

Williams technical director Patrick Head
We haven't see this type of problem before so we are certainly going to be very interested to see what has happened
Patrick Head
Williams technical director

"Say there was a ruptured bag [fuel] tank. Whether you have fire with 80 litres or 220 litres, I think they are equally dangerous.

"In general, I would say cars coming into and out of the pit lane in competitive positions is almost more dangerous than the actual refuelling - the likelihood of someone being bumped into.

"But there is no such thing as totally safe motor racing. We all go as far as we can to limit the dangers."

Although teams have complained about the refuelling rigs on several occasions this season, Head said the problem suffered by Ferrari in Austria was a new one.

"We haven't see this type of problem with leaks up around the connector before so we are certainly going to be very interested to see what has happened," Head said.

"Whatever went wrong will be indicated to us and if we need to make changes we will do so."

Ferrari blame fuel hose
21 May 03  |  Formula One
Berger backs fuel stops
19 May 03  |  Formula One
Schumacher shrugs off fire risk
18 May 03  |  Formula One
Schumacher escapes to victory
18 May 03  |  Formula One
Austrian GP as it happened
18 May 03  |  Formula One

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