Is F1 too Safe?


Not my cup of cake
Valued Member
A strange thought you think, how can such a dangerous sport be too safe? There hasn't been a death if F1 since 1994 although this week the freak accident involving Maria de Villota I think reminded us all that the sport is still dangerous. The reason for my question is do the drivers still have the respect for the risk they take given the incredible safety record F1 has had since that fateful weekend in 1994 when we lost Ratzenberger and Senna?

Derek Warwick and John Watson were discussing at the Fans Forum how they compartmentalised their lives to exclude the risks they were taking for a sport they loved. Watson mentioned the weekend he was driving for Brabham at Watkins Glen in 1973 when Francois Cevert died. Watson was convinced that the race would be abandoned but it wasn't and Bernie told him in no uncertain terms that as a driver his job was to driver, regardless of what else had happened on the track. Warwick had an even more personal story as his brother Paul died in a crash in F3000, taking away from us a driver probably every bit as talented (maybe more so) than Derek. Both discussed the death of Gilles Villeneuve, Watson perhaps as a more experienced F1 driver, took it a bit more in his stride than Warwick but both got into their cars the next day and raced as hard as ever.

Drivers now will bump and barge into corners relatively safe in the knowledge that if they make contact with another car, get launched into the air or cartwheel down the track they will probably walk away from the event mostly unscathed. The closest we have had to a serious injury in the last few season was Felipe Massa getting hit by an errant spring, although the incident with Henry Surtees should remind drivers of the dangers involved in motor sport.

I'm not suggesting that safety standards should be reduced but simply musing on the fact that, perhaps, drivers have become a little blase about the dangers they face as they hurtle into a corner at 150mph or come up to another car which isn't, perhaps, too obliging at the thought of being overtaken so they just make a wild dive not really caring about the consequences as they are pretty sure they will be safe.

Am I being too critical? How can you reinforce to people the dangers of a sport when so much has been done to improve safety?
The problem is, drivers are more likely to make risky maneourvers because of the safety of the cars but also the run off areas. If you look at the new tracks these days the run off areas are as big as car parks which not only isn't the best to look at, they are an unnecessary addition to a track. Look at somewhere like Spa, doesn't have miles and miles of run offs but it doesn't mean it's any more dangerous as any contact with the barrier doesn't result in any harm to the driver (just look at the BAR's in 1999). Obviously run offs themselves are not solely to blame but they contribute a lot
Look at somewhere like Spa,

Have you seen spa lately? La Source used to have no run off, now there's about 2 or 3 track widths which allowed Raikkonen to win in '09. Not to mention Puhoon and Blanchimont...

Suzuka however has less run off, but it is the tarmac variety which allows drivers to keep their foot in.
I doubt if that much has really changed regarding the drivers' outlook. I certainly don't believe that drivers take more risks with each other than they used to as a direct consequence of the cars and circuits making them feel 'safer'.

Think back eighteen years to a time when racing was presumably considered more inherently dangerous than now. It wasn't very long after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna, the last driver fatalities in Formula 1, that a certain German driver deliberately drove into a competitor in order to win the championship (an act which he tried, unsuccessfully, to repeat against another driver three years later). In fact, you could argue that the tactic used tat Adelaide only worked because there was a wall right next to the track into which to ram the opponent, rather than a wide run-off area that the opponent could have used to escape the attack.

Or think back further still to 1989, when one world champion closed the door on another in the penultimate race in an attempt to guarantee another title for himself (it almost didn't work, but for an appeal against the very team-mate he'd taken out, for having been push-started by the marshals before going on to win the race), and a similar thing in reverse happening the following year between the same two drivers.

When I see the likes of Alonso, Hamilton, Vettel, Button, Raikkonen etc. (ok, perhaps not Maldonado) racing each other so closely at such high speeds, without (generally speaking) too many comings together, I think they display an enormous amount of respect for each other as well as superb driving skills.
Formula One technology has advanced to a degree that allows drivers to race harder than ever, in an environment that is safer than ever. Overall I believe this adds to the spectacle, rather than detracting from it. There's no doubt that some drivers take this to the extreme though, and in fact F1 has been extraordinarily lucky to have avoided tragedy since 1994. One needn't look far around the world of motorsport to realize that there are still numerous dangers involved at the top levels of racing. Dangers and unforeseen circumstances that cannot be addressed by any amount of technological progress.
Great Thread FB:thumbsup:

I'm all up for safety, I don't watch F1 to watch people die but I agree that in part that some of the drivers may have become blasé to the inherent dangers that motorsport engenders.

If you walk away from this...........


You might think you're invincible.

I was watching the Goodwood festival and John Surtees was wearing Henry's helmet colours, I had something in my eye at that point. As it says on your ticket "Motosport is dangerous"
Speshal I think a more impressive shot would have been Kubica's shunt, Webber's car maintained its integrity pretty well as I recall. Obviously there have been a lot of improvements since that dreadful weekend at Imola, but people seem to forget that there were 3 big shunts that weekend, Barrichello stoved it in big time too. The fundamental difference between him and Senna/Ratzenberger was that they went straight into concrete and he went into a tyre wall. Who knows what would have happened to Ayrton/Roland if they'd hit tyres instead.
F1 will never be too safe. We have seen over the years you can not allow for the freak accidents that occasionally happen.

I think this is the most serious accident to have happened in an F1 car since 1994 so I'm expecting new regulations to come from this. I'm sure whether those regulations would just apply to testing or a whole new safety package aimed at protecting the drivers head.
There's no such thing as too safe for me, and the list of F1 drivers whose lives have been saved by successive safety improvements is long.

Unfortunately I do think drivers take more risks and there is more contact than there used to be, and while this isn't a problem in and of itself, I think we are seeing the same driving standards employed in other series, where safety provision is not as high. The F1 drivers are role models for the youngsters and need to take that responsibility seriously, I believe. But how, that I'm not sure about.
F1Yorkshire - Massa's was a bit more recent than 1994, and on the track rather than an out-of-the-way airfield? In terms of "serious" Massa's and di Velotta's were no more so than each other's at the time, though Massa has recovered fully from his which she (losing an eye) cannot.
I think that F1 is to safe for the drivers but surely safety for the drivers is of paramount importance because nobody would want to see a weekend that we had at Imola in 1994.
Well some aspects of the sport is too safe, for example the safety car starts at some wet races which is not needed, but it will always be dangerous, just less dangerous and more safe than before
the_roadie Yeah which is my point, there has been many injuries in the 18 years since Senna but until this week all the drivers were able to make a full recovery. This has changed the poor girls life and a loss to the sport.
I'm expecting new regulations to come from this. I'm [not?] sure whether those regulations would just apply to testing or a whole new safety package aimed at protecting the drivers head.

I think it would be a travesty if the FIA pushes through canopies or forward roll hoops as a result of the Marussia incident. This seems a procedural error by the team. And if it was indeed a freak acceleration by the car, then head protection is certainly not the issue at hand.

I'm dreading an overreaction from the FIA. Marussia are the ones that need to address the circumstances that allowed a driver to sustain serious injury.
If F1's too safe then i need glasses.

I don't think it's safe at all and think that the drivers are all brave in doing it, if not slightly nutty. But i have every respect for the show these guys put on for us.
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