Thursday April 13th, 2000
Double world champion Michael Schumacher said on Thursday he was seeking urgent safety improvements at Silverstone before next weekend's British Grand Prix.
The 31-year-old German, who leads the drivers' world championship after three wins, made his comments after watching video recordings of Brazilian Ricardo Zonta's spectacular 275-kph crash at Stowe corner during testing on Thursday morning.
Zonta's BAR-Honda car took off, cleared fencing and smashed across a concrete retaining wall after flying out of control at Stowe corner, where Schumacher broke his right leg during last year's British Grand Prix.
"We have been in contact with Charlie Whiting (the FIA's official race director and safety delegate) to discuss a few things with him about this and to try and hopefully do something before the next race weekend here," said Schumacher.
"Right now Charlie is in America. But we drivers who belong to the GPDA (Grand Prix Drivers' Association) have told him there are a couple of things we must discuss. I want to discuss them with him before I explain to the media what can be improved.
"I am sure there are some detailed changes to be made that I think are vital such as inserts in tyres. I know that we cannot make massive changes but little detail changes will be vital."
Schumacher, back at Silverstone for the first time since his accident, said he was amazed that Zonta, whose car suffered suspected suspension and wheel failure, had escaped with only a cut finger.
"It was very interesting to watch the accident and to see it over and over again on the video," said Schumacher. "Ricardo is, luckily, unhurt and that shows how good car safety is. But it also shows that we cannot stop where we are even though Silverstone has improved safety.
"I was more emotional about seeing (Zonta's crash) rather than remembering what happened to me on that corner," said Schumacher when asked about his own accident. "I really only think of it now when I am asked the question.
"In Ricardo's accident the circumstances were very unusual. You don't normally lose your brakes or a wheel. But then these things do happen. In general, we have massively improved safety, but still we must investigate how it happened.
Silverstone chief executive Denys Rohan said: "It was a big accident...but we are confident that the safety works did their job as they should. That is not to say we cannot learn from it.
"The positive elements are that Ricardo was not hurt in the big accident. We are now talking to Michael Schumacher who went down to see the accident and other drivers to see what they think we can do. I envisage that we will have to make some changes before the race weekend."