Sir Jackie Stewart yesterday paid tribute to the excellent safety standards in the sport after yesterday's amazing eight-car pile-up

in the Australian Grand


The three-time world champion, still involved in the sport with Jaguar, said the accident could have left Rubens Barrichello with ''brain damage''.

The Scot told BBC Radio 5 Live's SportsWeek programme: ''It was started by Ralf Schumacher, who didn't seem to have any idea of where the braking distance was and rode up

the backside of Barrichello in amazingly fast fashion.

''That incident sparked a chain reaction because Barrichello was turning sharply. And when there's all that tyre smoke, the other drivers can't see anything, so there's nothing they can do about it.

''It was a big mess and you have to recognise the safety we have in Formula One that allowed everyone to walk away uninjured. I think Ralf and Barrichello got off extremely lightly not getting injured.

''If Ralf's own car had flipped over at that speed, you never know what would have happened. And Rubens could have had brain damage. His helmet was damaged and he's a very lucky boy.''