‘Freak one-off’: Investigation launched after troubling incident at Australian GP

Kevin Magnussen crashed out of the Australian Grand Prix with five laps remaining.

Australian Grand Prix Corporation (AGPC) CEO Andrew Westacott has confirmed that an incident which occurred towards the end of the race is going to be reviewed, after a fan was hit by a piece of debris.

Spectator Will Sweet was hit by a piece of debris from Kevin Magnussen’s Haas, after the Danish driver crashed on the exit of Turn Two on Lap 53/58.

Sweet was hit on the arm by a magnesium wheel rim, drawing blood, before fellow fans rushed to Sweet to take the rim off him.

“I don’t really know [what happened],” Sweet told Melbourne’s 3AW radio station of the incident.

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“I was just sort of standing in the crowd at Turn 2 and all of a sudden there was a commotion on-track so I looked to my right and Magnussen goes flying down the track.

“Then, all of a sudden, something hits me in the arm and a bunch of people are sort of running around, scrambling around me.

“Suddenly, someone holds up half of his rim, which has just flown over the fence and managed to hit me in the arm, so it was a bit weird.”

Sweet continued to reveal that the rim would’ve hit his fiance in the head had his arm not been in the way, with the fan adding that it was “lucky it hit me and not somebody else”.

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“I was holding a really small radio to my ear, a bit like you would hold a mobile phone,” Sweet said.

“So, I guess I had my arm up and I’m taller than my fiancé so it kind of hit me at about… my arm was covering where my neck would have been but if that had hit my fiancé, it probably would have got her right in the head.

“So, it could have been worse, but kind of lucky it hit me and not somebody else.”

Sweet’s incident summed up a concerning weekend for the AGPC, who were summoned to the race officials after the event with fans having also been seen trackside in the closing laps.

There was a huge security breach towards the end of the race, with the AGPC having been summoned to the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council as a result.

In regard to Sweet’s incident, though, Westacott confirmed that it would be investigated but that he believes it’s “more of a freak one-off”.

“It’s very rare that things fly over the top of the debris fences,” he told 3AW.

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“They were heightened to a standard that exists and is consistent with every circuit around the world, and, statistically, they look at it all and say that that’s the right height, and I think it probably is the right height.

“But, we’ve got to look at all this and learn and see what can be done, whether it’s the way we… in 2001, when sadly the marshal Graham Beveridge passed away because of a tyre going through the fences, the fences were all changed and so were the tethering arrangements for the wheels and so on.

“A lot’s changed technically since 2001 and this, I think, is more of a freak one-off but the important thing about major events and motorsport is, you always have a thorough debrief and we’ll do that with everyone and CCTV, which you’d expect there’s a lot of it going around from our perspective.”