MAY 22, 2003
Ferrari explains Austrian fire
The Ferrari F1 team has announced that the fire at the Austrian Grand Prix was caused by fuel which found its way into the breather hose of the refueling rig during Rubens Barrichello's pit stop on lap 21. This hose was used two laps later for Michael Schumacher's pit stop when the fire occurred. The problem appears to have been caused by a damaged seal on the breather hose which meant that the fuel and vapor in the hose started the fire.
The refueling hose is a coaxial one with the fuel hose in the center surrounded by the breather hose, which is designed to get rid of the air in the fuel tank and any vapors from the fuel. The system is designed so that fuel will not start to flow until the hose is properly locked on to the car and the vapor circuit is open. It is not clear how fuel got into the vapor circuit but the logical explanation is that Barrichello's tank was full and so the fuel had nowhere else to go. In this case the seal should have worked to stop the excess fuel coming out of the hose but clearly this was not the case.
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