In spite of strong opinions by David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve proclaiming the restart of the German Grand Prix as a poor decision, Ferrari team manager Jean Todt supports race director Charlie Whiting's decision. "I think it was the...
In spite of strong opinions by David Coulthard and Jacques Villeneuve proclaiming the restart of the German Grand Prix as a poor decision, Ferrari team manager Jean Todt supports race director Charlie Whiting's decision.
"I think it was the right decision, because the track was blocked by debris," said Todt. "It was nonsense to go on."
Michael Schumacher's gearbox had failed just seconds after the original start of the race, stopping the Ferrari in the middle of the track, just past the start-finish line.
Prost driver Luciano Burti had no chance of avoiding him, and ended up somersaulting in the air before landing safely right side up. The track was littered with carbon fiber pieces, though, making it difficult for drivers to navigate past the wreckage without incurring a puncture.
The red flag and new start allowed Schumacher and Burti to take part in the race, a fact that caused many observers to speculate that the red flag was brought out to placate a strongly pro-Ferrari German crowd.
"We know that normally they prefer to send out the safety car instead of stopping the race," Todt explained. "For me, it was even dangerous behind the safety car because cars could still have picked up debris."
Michelin's motorsport director, Pierre Dupasquier, concurred with Todt's sentiments, saying that he was worried about ahigh-speed tire failure from the extremely sharp carbon fiber shards.
"The track looked like a bit of a battlefield, said Dupasquier. "It would have been dangerous not to stop the race because you do not want tires picking up pieces of carbon shrapnel when they are travelling at 350 km/h."
However, Villeneuve pointed out that the start itself is the most dangerous part of the race -- an opinion supported by the Schumacher-Burti crash in the first start.
"I was surprised when there was a red flag, because we already went through the debris once," Villeneuve said. "By then the track was clean and the most dangerous moment of the race is actually the start so I was really surprised. "
Coulthard was even more forward in speculating on the reasons for the restart.
"If you were cynical you would say the race was restarted because Michael (Schumacher) was out of the race in front of his home crowd," the McLaren driver said.
"I've raced here in the last 10 years, and the run down to the first chicane with all the cars close together, it is the most dangerous period of this Grand Prix."