Disgruntled employee wrecks McLaren's race

Ron Dennis said a 'deranged' fan who ran onto the track cost McLaren victory in the German Grand Prix.

Disgruntled employee wrecks McLaren's race

The man who was later arrested by police claimed to be a disgruntled Mercedes employee protesting at his dismissal. He cut through the security fence and tried to disrupt the start but was dragged away by marshals. Then he ran down the grass kerb wrapped in a white sheet carrying words of protest before sprinting across the track. Fearing he could be killed as he ran in front of cars doing over 200mph, officials deployed the safety car and the man removed from the circuit.

"This has been a frustrating outcome to a rather unusual race," said Dennis after Mika Hakkinen finished second and David Coulthard third. "Our strategy was flexible but not flexible enough to allow for a deranged spectator.

"He not only cost us the race but endangered his life and the lives of the drivers."

Police have refused to name the man but said he was a 47-year-old Frenchman who claimed he had been dismissed by Mercedes Benz for health reasons after 22 years service. He was held overnight at Mannheim police station and charged with offences including trespass.

With Hakkinen leading and Coulthard second McLaren appeared to be cruising to victory until the grid closed up under the safety car. "It was a dangerous thing to do," said Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn. "But with so much of the circuit in a forest it is difficult to prevent."

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