Today marks the tenth anniversary of the last fatality during a Formula 1 event.
Graham Beveridge, a marshal working at the Australian Grand Prix, died when he was struck by a wheel following a crash during the race.
That F1 has gone so long without another death is a tribute to the efforts of the FIA and competitors to improve safety standards.
Cars have been made stronger and have to withstand tougher tests. Helmets can withstand huge forces. And tracks have been made safer with larger run-off areas and better barriers.
Protection for marshals has improved as well, in reaction to the deaths of Beveridge and Paolo Ghislimberti, who lost his life during the Italian Grand Prix six months earlier.
The ever-improving safety standards have been tested to some astonishing extremes. Robert Kubica’s crash at Montreal in 2007 and Felipe Massa’s at the Hungaroring in 2009 would not have been survivable in earlier seasons.
While at times we may feel that the pursuit of safety has sapped some of the spectacle from the sport, preventing needless endangerment of life clearly has to take priority.
The challenge for those involved in running Formula 1 is to make it demanding for competitors, yet as safe as is realistically possible, in a sport where humans drive machines that cover almost 100 metres per second.
Other disciplines have not been spared tragedy. Days before Massa’s crash in 2009 John Surtees lost his son Henry in a Formula Two crash.
Motor racing is dangerous and despite best efforts that danger can never be removed entirely. The pursuit of still higher safety standards goes on.
It is a reflection of the level of safety in Formula 1 that people now question whether it’s appropriate for F1 drivers to compete in other forms of motor racing at much lower speeds.
The appalling injuries suffered by Kubica during a rally last month – in the kind of accident F1 hasn’t seen since the 1970s – are a reminder that the commitment to safety demanded in F1 must be reflected throughout the world of motor sport.
- ‘It doesn’t matter if we start last’: How Red Bull’s junior team aided Honda’s leap forward
- What were Formula 1’s greatest unexpected underdog triumphs?
- The Canadian GP thriller F1 loves to celebrate but can no longer replicate
- McLaren unveil special Indy 500 ‘Triple Crown’ liveries
- McLaren poke fun at Massa’s bid to take 2008 F1 title from Hamilton
- Massa’s problematic vision of Lance Armstrong-style justice over Crashgate
- Jordan reveals deal he did with Faldo to make Schumacher’s F1 test debut happen
- Jean-Pierre Jabouille, 1942-2023
- Still your favourite race after 10 years: Can anything top the 2012 Brazilian GP?
- Benetton, 40 years on: How a fashion label conquered Formula 1
Browse all history articles