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Friday, October 28, 2011

Schumacher: Race tragedies are just down to fate

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER had no time for motor racing’s painful soul-searching this week.
Formula 1 prepared to roar into action today for the first time since the two tragedies that have rocked motorsport.
Dan Wheldon, who was killed in a fiery 15-car collision in Las Vegas a fortnight ago, is the highest- profile British death in more than three decades.
And Italian Marco Simoncelli perished seven days later in the Malaysian MotoGP when his helmet came off.
But old campaigner Schumacher – who has toyed longer and harder with his own destiny than anyone on the grid – simply put it down to the nature of the beast.
“If something has to happen, that is something I would call fate, and fate is something we are all faced with,” said the 42-year-old German.
“I am touched by what happened to both drivers but unfortunately we have to say that is life. To have total safety is impossible.
“I don’t think when we drive we are thinking about putting ourselves in danger.
“When we push our cars to the limit, that is what we feel comfortable with.”
As a tribute, Wheldon’s friends Jenson Button and Mark Webber will carry his logo on their helmets this week. And Marussia Virgin will have his initials on their car, while several teams will don black armbands.
The unspoken fear is that death’s icy hand will to New Delhi as Formula 1 roars into action on another new continent.
Button took comfort yesterday in the remarkable safety revolution that followed Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994.
“No, I’m not superstitious. It’s just a very unlucky week in motorsport,” Button said.
“Every circuit we go to we point out areas that we think could be a massive hazard and should be improved.
“It can always be better but the FIA have done incredible things and Formula 1 is on another level in terms of safety compared with other formula.”
Stalking the paddock yesterday, as ever, preaching his sermon of vigilance, Sir Jackie Stewart was a walking reminder of an era when deaths did not happen once a decade but once a month.
Button added: “We forget what it was like 30 years ago. There was no pitlane speed limiter, so they came in at 180mph. That’s just madness.And people could stand on the edge of the track, like in rallying.”
Lewis Hamilton, Schumacher’s heir in the art of truly ruthless racing, believes the outcome might have been different had Wheldon not moved to America. Hamilton said: “They are both in our thoughts, it’s just tragic to see two deaths in such a close period of time.
“The fact is motor racing is dangerous. If Dan was in a Formula 1 car, it may not have happened. Who knows?”
The macabre jokers of the paddock yesterday said the track, for all its dangers, was probably the safest place on India’s hastily-constructed £125million venue outside New Delhi.
Real concern was widely voiced at the quality of the building work.
One ramshackle grandstand, clearly fitted with extra supports to hold up its bowed roof, is supposed to hold thousands of fans on race day.
And the dubious standard of the workmanship on the main paddock buildings is clear to the naked eye as India prepares to join the Formula 1 family this weekend.

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