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F1 NEWS 

Coulthard hits back at FIA on Monza safety

Grand Prix Drivers' Association director David Coulthard has hit back at claims from the FIA that the drivers were wrong to go public with their criticism of safety at Monza.

The GPDA issued a statement on Monday outlining their concerns about safety standards at the Italian circuit, and expressing their frustration at Monza circuit boss Enrico Ferrari cancelling a meeting to discuss their feelings.

That press release led to a swift response from the FIA, who claimed that new barriers had improved safety standards at the track and that it was wrong of the drivers to get involved in safety debates with circuit bosses.

"The owners of circuits licensed for Formula One are required not to discuss safety measures with third parties," said the FIA in a statement.

"This is to prevent self-appointed experts, with little or no understanding of the latest developments in circuit safety, causing confusion and undermining the significant safety benefits which are now being achieved."

With FIA president Max Mosley subsequently suggesting that the drivers should not have gone public with their feelings, Coulthard has responded angrily to any claims that the drivers did not follow correct protocol.

"That's absolutely incorrect," he told this week's Autosport magazine. "We've written to Charlie (Whiting) and to Max several times with the same points.

"Charlie, in the (Monza) drivers' briefing, said, 'I know, I know...' We have followed procedure and we have the right to air our concerns publicly in the same way that Max or anyone else does.

"We aren't going against any request from the FIA. We're highlighting concerns. There is unanimous agreement to step away from what we normally do - which is not to discuss things publicly - because we've been trying to get this done for five years and we think that's not good enough. If the changes are made we'll be happy."

Mosley remains adamant, however, that the Monza safety issue should have been kept behind closed doors.

"The difficult is that they (the drivers) go to the press before they understand what they are talking about," he said. "They cause trouble and annoy everybody.

"Serious people would sit and talk to the experts, try to understand the issues and then say something. And only if we were not prepared to do something is there any excuse for going and making a public issue of it.

"If they want to go and discuss everything in public, that's fine, but they can't expect us to take them seriously if they do."

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