FIA: Marshals and medical teams handled crash well

LONDON: Formula One's governing body says it is satisfied that marshals and emergency medical teams handled Ralf Schumacher's crash in Sunday's US Grand Prix correctly. 

An International Automobile Federation (FIA) spokesman also justified yesterday the decision not to stop the race at Indianapolis. 

“The safety car, medical car and fast intervention cars were deployed by race control without delay and the first car to reach the incident was the closest emergency medical vehicle,” the spokesman said. 

“We require emergency medical personnel to arrive at an incident within two minutes. This was achieved and we were therefore satisfied with the response time.” 

Schumacher crashed heavily at the end of the 10th lap at the fastest point of the circuit, spinning and smashing into a wall backwards. 

The Williams driver, who spent a night in hospital with concussion and said afterwards that he remembered nothing of the crash, remained in the shattered wreckage of his car for more than 10 minutes as the safety car led the field past. 

Some observers believed it took doctors closer to three minutes to attend to the German, who remained slumped in the car on the start-finish straight and is doubtful for the next two races. 

“I'm disappointed if he was sitting there for a few minutes because that's life or death stuff,” McLaren's David Coulthard told reporters on Sunday. “That needs to be looked at.” 

The FIA spokesman said marshals had followed the correct procedures however. 

“Track marshals and non-medical personnel attending the scene are specifically instructed not to touch a driver and to wait for medical experts to arrive,” he said. 

“A well-meaning intervention by someone other than an expert could have very serious consequences for the driver involved.” 

Tyre maker Michelin blamed carbon-fibre debris on the track from an earlier accident for the crash and BAR's Jenson Button, Schumacher's former Williams' teammate, said he believed the race should have been stopped. 

“I think it should have been stopped,” said the Briton. “The accident was pretty bad in itself with the debris all over the circuit. 

“We'd already seen one car go off (Spain's Fernando Alonso) earlier in the race. It should have been stopped or we should have been taken through the pitlane and had the hoovers out for a few laps. 

“I did think it was a little bit dangerous.” 

Michelin's Pascal Vasselon told Britain's Motorsport News yesterday that running over debris could be critical. “Whenever there is a crash on the racing line we always think it is better for cars to stop and change tyres,” he said. 

The FIA spokesman said however that races were red flagged only if the track was blocked or it was clearly too dangerous to continue. 

“Race control was in constant touch with the safety car and the feedback from the track was that it was quite possible to avoid the debris,” he said. 

“The start of a race is potentially the most dangerous moment and is therefore something to be avoided if a safety car deployment can manage the situation safely and effectively which was the case at Indianapolis.” – Reuters 

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