The winner of the Hemburg Hill Climb event where Richard Hammond crashed spectacularly last weekend says it “wouldn’t have happened to a real pro”.
Swiss racing driver Marcel Steiner slammed The Grand Tour and Richard Hammond and for involvement in the near-fatal crash and claimed he was unprepared and took massive risks. Steiner, who won the race in the town of Hemberg in the north-eastern canton of St. Gallen said that he and other professional drivers studied the course meticulously before the race.
“Superheroes like Hammond, on the other hand, only appear shortly beforehand at the track and thereby take massive risks,” he said.
Hammond now has a ‘swiss army knee’ after breaking it in the crash, and only just managed to crawl out of the overturned Rimac Concept One electric supercar moments before it burst into flames. A disciplinary procedure started by umbrella organisation Auto Sport Switzerland is now planned.
According to Auto Sport Switzerland director Patrick Falk, the association wants to know whether there was a serious preparation in the run-up to Hammond’s crash, or if the organisers granted the Grand Tour show the green light to participate spontaneously.
“Since Hammond did not participate in the official race but in the show part, we do not have access to him or his car,” Falk said. “Normally, professional racers take the route the day before with the bike and deal with the conditions on the spot. We doubt Hammond had time for this.”
Falk made clear his organisation did not want to investigate the crash but wanted to check whether the organisers had enforced regulations on Hammond. Hill climb organiser Christian Smid said: “Hammond’s participation in the hill climb was prepared several weeks before the event.”
As the procedure will focus on the organisation aspect of the hill climb race it may remain unclear whether Hammond’s crash was caused by a technical problem or a driving error. Swiss car journalist Peter Wyss, who witnessed the accident live, was not surprised by the criticism of Hammond.
Wyss said: “Those who like me were standing at the side of the circuit for one-and-a-half days, watching what was going on between the training and races on the closed track, are not surprised that this almost catastrophic accident has an aftermath.”
The 61-year-old, who has been covering such races for 40 years, said that there were many security breaches. “Outside the competition, people went up the mountain without a helmet and with excessive speed,” he said.
He explained that other organisers would be much more restrictive when dealing with such breaches, and the fact that Hammond had survived was pure luck.