FIA investigating Ferrari pit fire

The FIA, the sport's governing body, has launched an immediate investigation into the fuel rig problems which caused Michael Schumacher's Ferrari to catch fire during his first pit stop in the Austrian Grand Prix

FIA investigating Ferrari pit fire

Ferrari used its back-up rig to refuel Schumacher's car after the main fueller malfunctioned when team-mate Rubens Barrichello pitted two laps earlier. Both the world champion's F2003-GA and the fuel rig caught fire.

"The FIA and Ferrari are looking into the cause of the refuelling incident which saw the fuel connector to Michael Schumacher's car catch fire during his pit stop," said a FIA spokesperson. "Preliminary checks suggest the fuel problems were caused by a very small accumulation of fuel in the car connector, the source of the ignition is not yet known.

"The FIA are liasing closely with Ferrari and the fuel rig manufacturer Intertechnique to determine the causes of the incident."

Other teams have had problems with their fuel rigs this season notably Williams. Juan Pablo Montoya was forced to make an extra stop in the San Marino Grand Prix when the team's main rig malfunctioned. But there has not been a fuel-related fire in an F1 race since Pedro Diniz's Ligier ignited in Argentina in 1996, and yesterday's incident has brought the issue back to the surface.

"We had a lot of trouble today and we need to sit down and go through everything step by step to find out how we can solve these problems," said Brawn. "It looked spectacular but it wasn't so critical but even so we do not want a repeat of today."

Commenting on refuelling generally, Ferrari sporting director Jean Todt said: "I must say that I'm full of admiration for the safety that we manage to have. For many years now, no problem has occurred. If you didn't have any kind of refuelling, then you would be starting the race with almost 200 kilos of fuel in the car, which would raise other problems. We know that motorsport is dangerous. Refuelling is part of F1 now."

McLaren boss Ron Dennis added: "What you had there was something that technically shouldn't be able to happen. It is a little bit strange because the way the systems work, it effectively shouldn't be possible for there to be any fuel leakage."

Asked whether Intertechnique were proactive, however, Dennis replied: "They are, to be honest, appalling. I think that most of the efforts in optimising the use of their equipment has been done between the teams and the FIA, circulating information between them. Many of the imperfections have been resolved by the teams. I think we realised a long time ago that the right way to get the best out of these systems was to take the responsibility ourselves."


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