Motor Racing: Alesi may boycott Belgian Grand Prix over safety fears: Ferrari's Frenchman calls for drivers to form powerful lobby as Berger decides today on his Formula One future

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The Independent Online
JEAN ALESI, Ferrari's French driver, said yesterday he may refuse to race in this year's Belgian Grand Prix on 28 August because of concerns about safety at the Spa circuit.

Alesi, who returns to action at the Monaco Grand Prix this week after recovering from a neck injury, also called for the formation of a powerful drivers' association as well as a boycott of dangerous circuits to help prevent a repeat of the tragic events at the San Marino Grand Prix.

Alesi is among a group of several Formula One drivers who have questioned grand prix safety measures after the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at San Marino.

'The group of drivers must be powerful, and impose on the international federation their suggestions, also in terms of safety of circuits,' Alesi said in an interview with an Italian newspaper. 'There are some circuits on which one should not race.'

Two Italian Formula One drivers, Paolo Barilla and Alessandro Zanardi, escaped unhurt from spectacular crashes at the Spa circuit last year. A German driver, Stefan Bellof, died during a championship race for prototypes at the Belgian track in 1985.

'Zanardi survived the crash by miracle,' Alesi said. 'If it's not changed I'll not race there. Others can go, not me.'

The racing future of Alesi's team- mate, Gerhard Berger, will become clearer when the Austrian addresses a news conference in Monte Carlo today amid speculation he may retire.

'At the moment I have zero desire to sit in a racing car again, I just don't feel up to it,' Berger said. 'My feelings tell me that I'm not ready yet to drive again.'

Motor racing's ruling body, FIA, has contacted the IndyCar Penske team engineer, Nigel Bennett, to ask what rules governing IndyCar chassis safety might be applicable to Formula One.

Penske pointed out that Indy cars regularly hit concrete walls at speeds in excess of 200mph, with no injury to the driver.