PRESS RELEASE FROM BENETTON FORMULA Following the press release issued today by the FIA regarding the fire involving Car No. 6 during a pit stop at the German Grand Prix, Benetton Formula Ltd would like to make the following...
PRESS RELEASE FROM BENETTON FORMULA
Following the press release issued today by the FIA regarding the fire involving Car No. 6 during a pit stop at the German Grand Prix, Benetton Formula Ltd would like to make the following statement:
Benetton Formula's concern for an investigation into the events surrounding the incident, prompted us to contract an independent company specialising in accident investigation to carry out a study of the accident and to give an opinion on the method of refuelling.
This company is a specialist in the field of accident investigation and assessment of engineering failures and accidents. They particularly specialise in the aerospace field.
The company has conducted investigations into over 300 serious accidents worldwide, in addition to numerous less serious cases. Their work has included involvement in most major accidents since 1972 to public transport aircraft and helicopters in the UK, and surrounding waters, as well as overseas incidents where aircraft of UK registration or manufacture have been involved.
The company has also frequently served as technical investigator for military boards of inquiry into serious and complex military aircraft accidents.
Part of their report states:
"Consideration was given to the effect of the absence of the filter previously positioned at the point where the inner hose joins the nozzle unit. (It is understood that this was removed for the Hockenheim race after a lengthy period during which no debris was collected in any of the Benetton Team's filters.)
"Any debris would, under normal circumstances, travel through the connection into the car tank. No evidence was seen, during the examination, of scouring or of other effects which could have resulted from debris fouling any of the moving parts. A study of the layout of the fuel path and of the evidence surrounding the incident did not suggest any way in which any feasible debris contamination from the fuel flow could have caused the failure of the nozzle to engage correctly."
Given our concern over refuelling safety, we had hoped to be able to discuss this report with the FIA and undertake the necessary actions to reduce the risks involved in refuelling. A written request has now been placed with the FIA urgently requesting such a meeting.
A copy of this report was immediately lodged with our legal advisors, Marriott Harrison of London, upon receipt of the FIA's press release.
The filter mentioned was introduced part way through the year in response to problems teams were having with debris entering the valve and car. Benetton was able to eliminate this problem.
The Benetton fuel rigs prior to Hockenheim had been thoroughly stripped and cleaned and there was no risk of debris entering the valve assembly. Benetton also pre-filter their fuel twice before it is placed in the fuel rig.
Benetton Formula concluded the filter was unnecessary and it was removed with the full knowledge and permission of the FIA Formula One Technical Delegate, Mr. Charlie Whiting. This permission was given on the afternoon of Thursday 28 July to Mr. Joan Villadelprat in the presence of Mr. Ross Brawn. The consequence of attributing, in Benetton Formula's view incorrectly, the cause of this fire to the lack of a filter, means that such an incident could happen again, possibly with far more serious consequences.