No-one to blame in Melbourne, says track official

THE chief national steward of the Australian Grand Prix Garth Wigston says that no-one can be blamed for the accident in Albert Park last year when a trackside marshal was hit by a flying wheel.

The inquest into the death of Graham Beveridge opened in Melbourne on Monday with State Coroner Graeme Johnstone presiding. The case is expected to hear from around 25 different witnesses and will probably last for a couple of weeks. The court heard that Beveridge died of a ruptured heart after being hit in the chest by the wheel which was travelling at around 100mph. The wheel had come from Jacques Villeneuve's BAR-Honda and had been torn off when it somehow managed to go through an access hole in the heavy debris fencing beside the track.

Both Villeneuve and Ralf Schumacher, the other driver involved in the collision, gave statements to the police.

The court was told that the safety barriers in Albert Park are half the size of those used at Silverstone and that there will be other questions in the course of the inquest about the design of the debris-fencing. Tim Schenken, the director of racing operations in Melbourne, said that safety is being upgraded at Albert Park.

Assisting the coroner in the case is former Victorian attorney-general and opposition leader, Jim Kennan.

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