Korean fire tender provides bizarre GP moment

Sun Oct 6, 2013 10:26am EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

YEONGAM, South Korea (Reuters) - The appearance of a 4x4 fire vehicle on the track during Sunday's Korean Formula One Grand Prix provided a bizarre moment of drama as it led the slowed-down field but officials played down any safety concerns.

The sport's governing body said race director Charlie Whiting ordered the vehicle to enter the track once the safety car message was broadcast because he realized the pace car could not be deployed before Red Bull's race leader Sebastian Vettel arrived on the scene.

Watching viewers might have been bemused to see the workaday 4x4 trundling down the pit straight, hazard warning lights flashing, in place of the sleek silver Mercedes SLS AMG sportscar that is usually poised in the pitlane.

Officials agreed it was unorthodox but an immediate response had been needed.

Australian Mark Webber's Red Bull had caught fire after being hit by Adrian Sutil's Force India moments after the re-start following an earlier safety car period and marshals were struggling to put out the blaze.

Whiting had asked local organizers to deploy the fire tender parked at turn three but instead another at turn one that was better equipped entered the track instead.

Vettel, who led from pole and went on to win the race, made light of the incident.

"It looked like a BMW. I think it was a Hyundai or a Kia SUV (sport utility vehicle)," said the German. "You want the number plate?   Continued...