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Refueling fire fears re-ignited

The much-maligned Formula 1 refueling machines came in for heavy criticism in Barcelona once again after two separate incidents during the Spanish Grand Prix.

Bertrand Gachot's Pacific-Ford was forced to retire when it accelerated out of the pits on lap 43 trailing flames. The valve on the fuel tank had remained fully open after the refueling hose had been disconnected, so when Bertrand accelerated away, fuel splashed out and caught fire on the exhaust.

"I could see the fire so I pulled over to the side so that it could be put out," explained Bertrand. "I think we were lucky that the fire was not any larger."

Luckily, damage to the car was light and Gachot was not burned; but the fact that a car can leave the pits with its fuel valve wide open has worried the F1 circus.

There was further criticism, albeit of a less serious nature, after Martin Brundle lost over half a minute in the pits when the Ligier mechanics were unable to connect the refueling hose to the valve.

"The problem was due to the sensitivity of the refueling probe of the rig," said the team's director of operations Tony Dowe. "We are going to have to look very closely at the issue before Monaco because it shouldn't be possible to lose time through this sort of problem."

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