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MARCH 5, 2001

Schumacher calls for safety review

AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX winner Michael Schumacher has called for the FIA to improve safety measures in the sport after his victory was marred by tragedy.

Schumacher has urged the sport's governing body to make further safety improvements following the death of race marshal Graham Beveridge at Albert Park on Sunday.

Beveridge was killed after being hit by debris from Jacques Villeneuve's crashing British American Racing car on lap five of the race. Beveridge, 52, is believed to have been hit by a wheel from the car, but investigations are yet to be concluded.

"I think the problem is obvious," said Schumacher, who won the season-opener in Australia. "The FIA will look very intensively at it, as they have done since Monza. I am sure they will act in the right way.

"If we, the drivers from the Grand Prix Drivers' Association (GPDA) can help, we will. But on the other hand, if you are honest, there is no area in life where you can be 100 per cent safe. That is the way it is.

"We very much regret what has happened and I want to send my condolences to the man and his family, as do all the drivers. I know that at this circuit, Albert Park, there are high safety fences, but we have to try and improve things more and more."

Beveridge was killed five races after fire marshal Paolo Gislimberti lost his life when he was hit by a wheel from Pedro de la Rosa's Arrows after a crash at the start of the Italian Grand Prix in September.

Sunday's tragedy occurred after Villeneuve crashed into the back of Ralf Schumacher's BMW-Williams and spun into a wall and fence at 150 mph. The BAR car sent debris flying through gaps in the fence, used by marshals to get onto the track quickly in the event of an accident.

New FIA regulations for this season stated that wheels must be connected to cars by two tethers which should keep it connected to the chassis in the event of a crash.

When Michael Schumacher crashed spectacularly in practice for the Australia race on Friday his wheels stayed connected by the tethers despite the car going through two barrel-rolls.

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said the FIA face a difficult task to make the sport safer and insisted it will be hard to ensure that wheels stay on cars in every crash.

"It is very difficult for me to comment on how we can make things safer," said Brawn. "There are things that have been done since last year at Monza. The extra security on wheels, for instance.

"You could see from Michael's accident on Friday that the wheels did not come off the car. But Villeneuve's impact was so severe. It is difficult to know what you could do."