JULY 19, 1999
More on Schumacher's accident
THE FIA has published details of Michael Schumacher's crash, recorded by the "black box" accident data recorder in the Ferrari. This indicates that the Ferrari did begin to brake at 190mph. The driver experienced 3.1G but when the car reached 126mph the front wheels locked, which reduced the slowing of the car dramatically. As the car bounced across the gravel trap at Stowe Corner it slowed at a rate of 22mph per second which meant that on impact it was only travelling at 66mph. Given that the impact was virtually head-on and there was no deflection of energy at all, the car did a very good job - although Schumacher was quick to give credit to the safety features brought in since the death of Ayrton Senna in 1994.
The modern F1 cars are tested to withstand head-on impacts of only 29mph - although this will be increased next year to 31.3mph - this indicates the Ferrari was over twice as strong as necessary.
Although the FIA has been criticized because the gravel trap at Silverstone did not appear to have much effect on the car, the governing body said that it had performed "satisfactorily" given that Schumacher's accident was the worst-case scenario.
"What is really remarkable is that despite not being slowed down very much he survived an accident with a disagreeable injury, but not a life-threatening one," said FIA President Mosley. "If that had happened a few years ago he would have been killed or seriously injured."
Mosley said that the FIA is continuing to investigate how to improve the efficiency of gravel traps but said that it is not an easy task. Adding more gravel can be dangerous because cars can be launched into the air - which means that they are not slowed at all.
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