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Close call for Benetton

THE Benetton team had a frightening near-miss during the Hungarian Grand Prix when the team's refueling machine began to fountain petrol during Michael Schumacher's first pit stop.

No one was quiet sure how many liters actually escaped from the machine, but eyewitnesses reported that the garage was awash with fuel. This is extremely dangerous as the vapors given off by F1 fuel are highly flammable.

As the Benetton boys frantically worked to clean up the mess, it became clear that the fuel could only have come from one place and that it should have been in Schumacher's car, rather than on the floor of the garage. Michael had, in fact, rejoined the race with only a fraction of the fuel load he should have had and had to come back for more when the garage was cleaned up.

The spillage was caused because a sealed union in the pressurized piping had not been correctly connected. When the fuel hose was pulled towards the car, the joint came open and the pressurized fuel flowed into the vapor hosing which surrounds the fuel pipe. This then flowed up the hose to the refueling machine and was pumped into the non-pressurized storage tank. This was already over half full with fuel and it overflowed when more fuel arrived.

Normally teams have a long hose to take away vapors and any fuel overflow but Benetton apparently did not have one on this occasion and the fuel came out onto the floor of the garage.

A spark could have caused a very dangerous fire...

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