FIA backs decision to restart race

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The governing body of motor sport, the FIA, has defended its decision to restart Sunday's German Grand Prix in the wake of criticism from David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve.

Coulthard and Villeneuve were both at a loss to understand why the race was red-flagged following a spectacular first corner crash in which the Prost of Luciano Burti barrel-rolled through the air after slamming into the back of Michael Schumacher's Ferrari.

"If you were cynical you would say the race was restarted because Michael was out in front of his home crowd," Coulthard said.

"With all respect, unless it is a driver that is hurt, then they (the race director and race stewards) don't normally stop races for accidents or injuries off the track."

However, an FIA spokesman, Francesco Longanesi, yesterday justified the reasoning behind the move. "The amount of debris was considerable and there was no way we could have cleaned that portion of the track properly with normal brooms. We needed machines.

"We had to stop the race because there was a very serious risk of a puncture, and on a high-speed circuit like Hockenheim that could have led to catastrophic results.

"You cannot take the chance of something like that happening. We had to clean the track properly."