Australian GP safety fences proposed changes

Each year prior to the Australian Grand Prix, the Albert Park circuit is inspected and licensed by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of motor sport. After each year's event, the FIA, as well as its ...

Each year prior to the Australian Grand Prix, the Albert Park circuit is inspected and licensed by the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), the world governing body of motor sport.

After each year's event, the FIA, as well as its Australian affiliate, CAMS (Confederation of Australian Motor Sport), and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation review the design of the circuit to identify where any modifications can be made to improve safety.

Since the 2001 event an extensive review has again been done of Australian Grand Prix safety fences and certain changes are proposed for 2002.

Many people will be aware that an inquiry is listed to begin in Melbourne on December 3 into the tragic circumstances of March 4, 2001. The Coroner will conduct a full inquiry into those circumstances, and the following changes proposed for the safety fences for 2002, which have been approved by the FIA and CAMS, will be submitted to him.

It is proposed to revise the openings in the fencing around the 5.3-kilometre circuit and to reduce their number.

The primary reason for having openings in the fencing is to allow drivers access from the track if necessary, as well as for marshals to enter and exit the track in a hurry.

Until now these have been created by raising a debris fence panel to create a 4-metre by 40-centimetre opening.

It is proposed to replace these by new openings specially designed for each of the purposes for which they are intended -- with emphasis on minimising the risk of penetration by debris.

There would be two new types of opening to allow driver and marshal movement through fences.

The first and most common of these would be a barrier opening (approximately 1m) that faces away from the direction of racing.

The second type, used mainly where space does not permit the use of the first type, has a smaller climb-through opening (2.5m long by 40cm high) for marshals and drivers with a protective cage behind. That cage, in turn, would have a single opening facing away from the direction of racing. Nobody will stand in the 2.3m-high cage; it will only be passed through by competitors and officials moving to and from the track as necessary.

The two new types of openings are proposed to be about every 75 metres around the track on each side, as opposed to the previous spacing of approximately every 40 metres.

A new type of fence panel has been designed with three openings 25cm high by 80cm wide for media photographers.

It is also proposed to change openings for television cameras and designs of new panels for these are well advanced.

The FIA, CAMS and the Australian Grand Prix Corporation will continue to co-operate and work closely on safety issues.

Out of respect for legal processes no further comment will be made at this time.

- www.grandprix.com.au

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , CAMS , F1