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FEBRUARY 8, 2002

FIA responds to Melbourne criticism

THE FIA has hit back at the Melbourne Coroner's ruling that the death of marshal Graeme Beveridge was "avoidable". The international federation said that the coroner's report was "workmanlike and useful" but reminded the Melbourne authorities that "by far the most dangerous element of a visit to a Grand Prix remains the drive to and from the circuit" and said that it hoped that the coroner and the local police "can now concentrate once again on road casualties, which remain a very serious and ongoing problem within their jurisdiction".

The FIA did however confirm the Australian GP is part of the World Championship this year, despite the criticisms.

It remains to be seen whether the family of Beveridge will now take action based on the coroner's report but it is possible that the legal action could follow. If that were the case, however, there is a risk that the Australian GP could be lost from the F1 calendar in the future as the international federation cannot risk visiting countries where such verdicts are possible. The FIA continues to believe that the accident was a freak one and that Beveridge was simply unlikely.

Despite his criticisms the coroner did have some positive things to say about the organizers in Melbourne.

"Whilst some of the comments in this inquest have been critical of the management of this particular risk by agencies such as AGPC and CAMS, it also needs to be said, in a very positive light, that these agencies also have taken many pro-active and innovative steps in relation to safety in the past and appear to be engaged in a process aimed at continual safety improvement. Processes aimed at continual safety improvement are essential if the risks are to be appropriately managed. It is noted that the FIA also appears to have taken a significant number of steps on safety in the area of international Grand Prix motor racing."