'Idiotic' Frentzen blamed for crash

Max Mosley, president of the FIA, motor sport's governing body, last night told Formula One drivers they had a responsibility to avoid accidents such as the one that resulted in the death of a fire marshal here. Paolo Ghislimberti, 33, was killed by a wheel from one of the cars involved in a collision on the first lap of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Max Mosley, president of the FIA, motor sport's governing body, last night told Formula One drivers they had a responsibility to avoid accidents such as the one that resulted in the death of a fire marshal here. Paolo Ghislimberti, 33, was killed by a wheel from one of the cars involved in a collision on the first lap of Sunday's Italian Grand Prix.

Ferrari's Brazilian driver, Rubens Barrichello, blamed Jordan-Mugen's Heinz-Harald Frentzen for causing the crash and called on the authorities to suspend the German for 10 races. Stewards at the meeting decided to take no action against any driver, however, concluding that it had been "a racing accident", a verdict that Mosley accepted.

However, Mosley believes grand prix drivers ought to be capable of negotiating chicanes without catastrophic consequences and dismissed condemnation of Monza's tight corners.

"Chicanes are part of motor sport and it's up to drivers not to run into each other," he said. "They are supposed to be the best drivers in the world yet amateur drivers manage to get through the chicanes at Monza in races every week."

Barrichello, Jordan's other driver, Jarno Trulli, and McLaren-Mercedes' David Coulthard all found themselves in the gravel trap at the second chicane after Frentzen came up behind them. Pedro de la Rosa joined in when he ran into the back of the jam and his Arrows cartwheeled.

"What Frentzen did was idiotic," Barrichello said. "His driving was dangerous and he should be banned for 10 races. He was totally responsible for what happened. He should not be using the car in front as a reference for his braking points."

Mosley said: "The stewards interviewed the drivers involved and took the view it was a racing accident. Unless some completely new evidence comes to light no action will be taken against Frentzen or anyone else."

Sunday's fatal accident inevitably puts pressure on the sport to re-examine its safety measures and investigate the Monza circuit. The reshaping of the first chicane caused much debate before the race but the incident happened at the entrance to the second chicane, an area which was unchanged.

Mosley said: "We must wait for reports from the national authority and we shall look into any points they raise. However, I think it is going over the top to call for the closure of Monza. Other parts of the circuit may have to be redone. One of the problems we have there is that the Monza circuit is in a park and there are objections to the cutting down of trees, but we may have got to the stage where we have to do that."

Monza is famed for its atmosphere and the passion of the fans, and drivers have commented that some marshals are caught up in the excitement and stand in dangerous areas. The fireman killed on Sunday is understood to have been away from his post just before the accident.

Mosley said: "He ran behind the barrier but the tendency is to stand and not crouch. He should have been crouching with his eyes peering over the barrier. It is difficult to get out of the way when something comes at you at the speed of a bullet. But I can't reproach him. We've all done it and he was unfortunate."

Flying wheels have long been a cause for concern in the sport and, as a consequence of a spectacular pile-up at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, single tethers were fitted to wheels from the start of last season. In a further attempt to secure the wheels in case of accident, a second restraint will be added next year.

"A second tether might have saved this marshal," Mosley said, "but there is no guarantee of that when you have such collisions."

Car and track safety standards have been improved considerably in recent seasons and no driver has been killed since Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. De la Rosa was especially lucky to escape Sunday's crash unscathed.

Mosley said: "The thing that stops me being hubristic or triumphal about this is that it comes back to bite you, but we have had large numbers of accidents and people have walked away, which is very satisfying."

Race organisers were gratified they had no further serious incident on their hands when the traditional invasion of the track started before Michael Schumacher, the Ferrari driver and race winner, completed his lap of honour. He had to weave through the delirious tifosi before reaching the safety of the pits.

Mosley said: "We have an agreement with Monza that when the last car is in the pit road they can open the gates. I don't know what happened this time. Maybe Schumacher was savouring his win and going round more slowly than usual.

"We shall look into this but we don't want to spoil the wonderful and very special atmosphere of Monza."

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