F1: Fan at Australian Grand Prix left bleeding after hit by car debris
MELBOURNE – A spectator at the Formula One Australian Grand Prix suffered a cut to his arm when struck by a piece of debris from Kevin Magnussen’s car, putting the spotlight on organisers’ safety protocols.
Will Sweet told Australian radio station 3AW he was standing with his fiancée on a packed hill just off turn two at Albert Park during Sunday’s race when the Danish Haas driver’s car hit the track-side barrier sending his tyre and debris flying into the air.
“It slapped me in the arm and I was just standing there bleeding,” he said.
“My arm was covering where my neck would’ve been, but if that had hit my fiancée, it would’ve got her right in the head.
“I realised how big it was and how heavy it was. Part of it was shredded and really sharp, if it hit me in a different angle, it could’ve been horrendous,” he added.
Australian media published a picture of Sweet holding a large piece of debris with blood trickling down his forearm and another showing him having treatment from a medical official at the track.
Sweet said the area he was standing was packed, with young children around, and that no race officials came to assist him.
“No one even came and looked,” he said.
“My fiancée was pretty spooked by it and borderline shell-shocked.”
Sweet added that the debris from Magnussen’s car had flown “straight up, way over the fence” and into the crowd.
Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) boss Andrew Westacott said it looked like a “freak one-off” incident but that organisers would investigate.
“The debris fences are consistent around the world. We’re compliant with our FIA regulations,” he told Australian media on Monday.
At the 2001 Australian Grand Prix, a track marshal was killed when hit by the wheel of Jacques Villeneuve’s car following a crash with Williams’ Ralf Schumacher.
The AGPC is already under scrutiny after some fans invaded the track near the end of the race.
Late on Sunday, Formula One stewards ordered the AGPC to urgently produce a “remediation plan” in response to security and safety failures.
The AGPC allow fans to enter the track once the race is over for the podium celebrations.
Westacott said the AGPC had already started an investigation.
“This was clearly a breach of what is a very robust protocol, a protocol that’s been developed and improved every year,” he added.
Organizers said a crowd of 131,124 attended Albert Park on Sunday and a record total of 444,631 spectators across the race week.