Is danger an essential part of Formula One?

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Plans to introduce new cockpit safety structures in 2017, using either the Halo or Aeroscreen concepts, have not been universally appreciated by those in Formula One, including some drivers.

The new rules are intended to address what is arguably the greatest vulnerability in current F1 car design – the risk of the driver being hit on the head by debris such as a wheel or a wing.

But while no one wants to see drivers being hurt or worse, is it possible for F1 to make too many concessions in the name of safety? Will the sport fail to hold our attention if it is no longer dangerous?


“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games”. This quote, often attributed to Ernest Hemingway*, encapsulates for many the view that the risk factor is what sets motor racing apart from ‘lesser’ activities.

Formula One is a contest of athletic ability, tactical skill and technical knowledge. But it is also a test of bravery. Who will be the first to attempt slick tyres on a damp track? Who can take Eau Rouge on full tanks without lifting?

Racing drivers must impress us with their capacity to do what we could never attempt. That means there must always be some measure of danger in their profession.


It’s one thing to accept how difficult it is to make Formula One safe: ‘Formula One will be dangerous’. It’s quite another to suggest this is desirable: ‘Formula One should be dangerous’.

If we accept that Formula One should be dangerous then it follows that there is some level of driver injury we’re willing to tolerate. One fatality per year? Two per decade?

This is a position which cannot be defended. Within the last 12 months drivers have lost their lives in Formula One and IndyCar. Saying that danger must be a part of Formula One is the same thing as saying death must be a part of it.

I say

The idea that a sporting contest becomes more meaningful when its competitors are exposed to greater risk seems like relic from a past era. So do many of the arguments put forward against canopies – claims that drivers are generously paid precisely because of the dangers involved (utter nonsense when one considers several of them are paying to drive) or that if they object to risks they shouldn’t compete in the first place.

Recognising that Formula One’s high-speed nature makes it impossible for it to become completely safe does not make that danger desirable and is not an argument against making necessary safety improvements. If managing the inevitable risks of F1 to acceptable levels means the sport is going to lose some fans than that is a sacrifice which must be made – however great a concern that is for Formula One at present.

Insisting that F1 has to be dangerous is macho posturing. It’s a view which is seldom heard on F1’s darkest days. It’s time to leave it in the past and embrace instead the spirit of competition, the pursuit of technical excellence and everything else which makes Formula One a great sport.

You say

Is it essential for Formula One to be dangerous? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree with this statement: "Formula One has to be dangerous"?

  • No opinion (1%)
  • Strongly disagree (38%)
  • Slightly disgaree (15%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (8%)
  • Slightly agree (24%)
  • Strongly agree (15%)

Total Voters: 411

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*He may never have written those words. His 1923 article “Bullfighting is Not a Sport – It is a Tragedy” indicates he did not hold the view often ascribed to him.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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121 comments on “Is danger an essential part of Formula One?”

  1. I couldn’t vote not but I think formula 1 is there for my amusement. I don’t think people should die or get harmed for my amusement.

    1. This. So much this.

    2. I made sure I didn’t vote. I think F1 is naturally dangerous but it’s certainly not meant to be life threatening. Ex: bike racing, every corner is a chance to win or lose a race, that said no one wants to see anyone getting hurt.

      1. That should be it, pennyroyal. Risk should be present, risk of failure and demotion, with rewards being high as well. Those brave enough to take it to the edge and having the skill to pull it off should be rightly compensated, a driver risking it should be in danger of ending his race not his good health.

        In the last twenty years there has been a honorable quest for the reduction of harm to the participants, but in the last ten years, harm has sometimes being confused with risk.

        That said, I hate that windscreen contraption, but I’d rather see twenty two cars spring that instead of one more racetrack with runoff like Sochi.

        1. Yes, f1 cars should be the safest, fastest cars on earth, tackling the most challenging circuits on earth. Make the cars safer, and the tracks more punishing.

  2. petebaldwin (@)
    8th May 2016, 12:13

    I can see both arguments but the danger you could argue that F1 needs isn’t drivers potentially being struck by debris. It’s drivers being punished for mistakes like at Monaco or Canada. It’s going into corners knowing that if you get it wrong, you can’t just go flat out down the runoff and rejoin.

    1. @petebaldwin I agree

      and by “dangerous” I don’t even really want danger, I just mean that the car should be out of the race (stuck in gravel for example) which is slightly more dangerous than a parkinglot sized run off-area

      the cars can or even should literally be bulletproof imo, there will always be a danger in travelling in 200+ mph while racing, no matter how much safer the actual cars get. It’s just the stupid things like Massa getting hit in the head that I find totally avoidable

    2. +1

      And it’s the wrong question being asked here. Nobody wants danger, especially danger that kills people. Fans of the sport wants to see the most skilled drivers in the most advanced cars, battling each other at the highest speed. Well, that comes with danger…

      The question should be: when is safe, safe enough. Because after the cockpit protection you can wait for the next safety measure. I presume closed wheels. And after that, a fully closed cockpit. Probably airbags are on their way (when fast enough). And so on, and so on. And in twenty years a driver in the car is not accepted anymore. They are all sitting on the side with a control in their hands and a VR-set on their heads…

      So when is safe, safe enough? I don’t know, but I do know that it’s pretty safe right now, compared to twenty years back. Freak accidents will happen, even with cockpit protection, and not only in F1, but also in other motor sports and even different sports like bicycling, fighting sports, et cetera.

      I would like to add that the two suggested options are a terrible compromise. They’re ugly, you don’t see the driver anymore and it’s probably still not safe enough. If they want cockpit protection, than go all the way, and make it like a WEC car.

      1. Zantkiller (@)
        8th May 2016, 20:24

        Airbags were tested by Mercedes and the FIA for F1. It was around the same time that the HANS device was being developed.
        Although it ‘worked’ there was a number of inherent flaws.

        It’s a reactive not a passive measure. A HANs device is always working where as the airbag has to respond to a crash to deploy.
        It’s a one use item. After the initial hit you have to replace it and it does nothing if you have multiple impacts in one crash.
        It could deploy in a non-crash situation where as the HANs device won’t.
        It’s a lot of extra weight.

        The HANs device plus increased side head protection was seen as a better option and Mercedes was tasked in taking the HANs device design and refining it for F1 use by making it smaller and lighter.

      2. @favomodo
        You have summed it up very nicely. I think we should either leave it open and keep trying to find a head protection that suits F1, or they should just cover the cockpit completely

    3. @petebaldwin spot on! my views exactly.

      It all comes down to aesthetics, I believe. Because no one complained about raised cockpits, lower noses, carbon fibre monocoques, wheel teethers, and all that stuff. I wasn’t around back then but I suppose the pitlane speed limit wasn’t something people complained about, and it was all done with safety in mind.

      But putting a screen in an F1 car is a no-no for some. I really hate the Halo, it looks horrible. But if it can stop people from getting injured, I’ll be glad to overlook it’s ugliness.

      What’s the alternative to an ugly F1 car? I watched Jules crash, and I cried when I realized, the next mornign, how serious it was. And I cried again when he finally died. I saw a young guy in Argentinean touring cars die inmediately on live TV and I cried a lot. I saw Dan Wheldon’s accident live as well.

      I hated all those moments. They are burned in my mind in a way that surpasses happier events on a racing track: I remember more about Wheldon’s accident than I remember Hungary 2006, for instance, which was an espectacular race.

      The quality of the racing should not be influenced by how unsafe it is. It shouldn’t change the way things are decided on a track. And as @petebaldwin says, there are bigger detriments to the entertainment and risk factors than an aeroscreen.

      1. John Toad (@)
        8th May 2016, 19:45

        But would either suggested system have saved Jules or Dan? I think the answer is probably no as they wouldn’t have prevented the g-force injuries they both suffered.
        Also I don’t see any series, other than F1, rushing to adopt anything similar.

        1. But would either suggested system have saved Jules or Dan?

          This doesn’t serve as an argument against. It would save some drivers in some circumstances.

          I ride a motorbike. I don’t say “A helmet would not save me if I came off on a motorway and was hit by a truck, so I won’t bother with a helmet.” The fact is that a helmet would save my life in many circumstances, so I will wear one. Same goes for armoured clothing etc. (which can be very uncomfortable on a hot day).

          Bianchi’s crash was a very bad one in which almost nothing (car design wise) could have saved him. Procedures needed to (and have) change to prevent that set of circumstances from happening again. But there are other risks, like debris hitting the driver’s head a la Massa, which would benefit greatly from cockpit protection of some form.

        2. @ceevee as @drmouse says, it’s not a valid argument against it. Head protection is being discussed everywhere, F1 being the prime example of motor racing, expect the trend to develop further in the lower formulas. Those guys race at much slower speeds, so the inherent risk is lower. If F1 comes up with a solution that fulfills F1’s safety standards, it’ll fulfill other racing series, particularly IndyCars which also have the same problems.

          Head protection increases safety that that’s the main thing. Jules Bianchi’s accident had other consequences: the virtual safety car for instance. A canopy would not have helped, as was described by the report released by the FIA a couple of months after the crash. But it’d have helped in other circumstances, and that should not be overlooked.

          1. John Toad (@)
            10th May 2016, 0:38

            @drmouse @fer-no65 I wasn’t using the examples to argue against extra driver protection, rather I was simply trying to point out the erroneous use of an analogy to promote the cause.
            I totally agree with design changes that mitigate driver risk, having said that I don’t believe there is any way of reducing the driver risk to zero unless we go down the ‘drone-car’ route.
            F1 without any chance of risk to a driver is no longer F1 but has transformed itself into something else.

  3. Kinda. I approve of most changes made in the name of safety, including things like canopies and runoffs. I might not always think these solutions are perfect, but do consider them worthwhile.

    However I wouldn’t watch an F1 where the cars were remotely controlled from the safety of the pit wall, nor one where the drivers were replaced by AIs. I want a human to be piloting the car from inside the car, and that’s always going to be a little dangerous.

  4. “By being a racing driver you are under risk all the time”
    Ayrton Senna

    1. And Ayrton was a big promoter for better safety for the drivers. Even on the last day of his life: “On Sunday morning, Senna was the fastest in the warm-up session by nine tenths of a second. Afterwards he spotted former McLaren rival Alain Prost sitting at a table. They talked together for 30 minutes, with Senna lobbying for Prost’s help to improve the sport’s safety, both agreeing to meet before the Monaco Grand Prix.” Unfortunately, we lost him the same day…

    2. realizing that inherent risks exist, is different from wanting (more) danger intentionally

      1. @dr-jekyll – agree with that.

        I used to ski all the time without a helmet, now I won’t hit the slopes without one. There is inherent danger in taking up an activity like skiing (even if Hemmingway didn’t see it), but that doesn’t mean I want to intentionally chase it.

        I watch racing to see the best drivers drive to the best of their ability. Yes, they should be punished for pushing too much, but by having their mistakes mean they fall back in the field, not at the cost of their health or their lives. I accept that accidents will happen, and people will die. It happens on the roads every day, but that doesn’t mean we should try and make it happen more.

      2. Well said.

    3. Yes, but realising it as a driver and still going all-out… that’s what we (the spectators) want to see.
      I know I’m stereotyping here, but I honestly believe that the real risk of danger is an element you cannot and should not take away from the sport.

      I want to see engines blowing up (with smoke and fire and comets), cars piling up (I regularly watch Spa 98 again) and preferably a screwdriver aerospin by someone. And if they die… they die. That scenario, the actual and real risk you can die in that car and STILL do what you do, freely, knowingly, at the best of your ability. That’s magic right there.

      Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT want to see people die! Ever! Period!
      But in the end it’s the same thing as bungee- or parachute jumping. Or any other thing that brings real danger. Take away that danger, or diminish it considerably, and that very thing becomes less attractive (to do, and certainly to watch).

      Who was the last driver to die in the car, before Bianchi? Wasn’t that Senna in ’94? That’s roughly 20 years of no casualties. In (one of) the most dangerous sport in the world… But it has to be safer…

      What’s hypocrite in this situation, is that many have died over the last 50 years, and NOW they want those canopies or other devices to protect the driver’s head… Really? After 50+ years driving like this? NOW you want to put a screen in front of the driver’s head to ‘protect’ him? That bothers me most… It seems so trivial. As though attention needs to go there instead of somewhere else.

      1. I agree, l never want to see amyone hurt or killed, myself as a spectator included, but if i had had the choice to stand on the straight with no barriers when i was a young man i would have done it once or twice, a calculated risk of death…. F1 is a very safe sport, much safer than horseriding for example, let’s just ban driving faster than walking pace, reintroduce the walking flag men and make motor cars safe again…

  5. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    8th May 2016, 12:24

    I don’t think danger is required – I certainly don’t watch it because there’s a possibility someone might die.

    I watch it because those cars fascinate me. I think I’m more interested in the idea the cars are so hard to drive, so challenging upon the driver that only an athlete or someone with supreme mental and physical strength can do it. For that reason I suppose I slightly agree – the idea the cars are dangerous, that they are powerful, that no ordinary person could hop in and do a quick lap… that’s pretty (romantically) heroic. I guess that’s where ‘legends’ come from?

    I suppose for that reason I’m against making them ‘safer’, or easier to drive… though I have no interest in it being personally dangerous. I know they’re just a car, but I suppose I don’t like the idea anyone could drive them. I’m fairly certain none of this makes sense and I think I’ve drifted off topic.

    1. @rocketpanda We’re not in “Americuh”. We don’t watch it for crashes we watch it for the romance.

    2. Adam, there’s the problem the cars aren’t hard to drive. Have you ever driven a car with no servo brakes, no power steering,no abs shall i go on.When drivers changed gears manually they had blisters on their hands they sat higher up in their cars so the head was exposed more. I drive old cars and i drive supercars and i can tell you a Mclaren mp4-12c is a doddle to drive over a lotus elan sprint , E type Jag or a Jaguar xk150.

  6. Where was the danger on Schumacher’s famous third stint at Hungary in 1998? It’s hailed as an example of his driving talent, but he was not prone to more risk than any other competitor.

    Grosjean won driver of the race at Melbourne, but not because he was in more danger than other drivers. Maldonado never won any DOTW for being a danger to himself and others.

    We lost Jules Bianchi not too long ago. Was it a freak accident? The circumstances were rare. The impact was so severe that perhaps, a halo or aeroscreen would not have helped. But would higher cockpit edges alone have saved Senna? Would Gilles still be with us had they had stronger cockpits in the 80s? These devices and measures are not the be-all-end-all solutions to safety questions. But in numbers, they contribute to drivers surviving crashes like Schumacher in 1999, Kubica in 2007 or Webber in 2010, to name some random examples.

    I don’t think they look good, but look at the 1996 Ferrari. Those cockpit edges are hideous. The noses of the 2012 cars were awful as well. F1 however has never focused on aesthetics. In time, we get used to certain things being on the car. In 2000, people laughed at Williams and Jordan for putting little winglets in front of their rear wheels on the engine cover. 2 years later, every team had advanced aero appendages on their engine cover and fans stopped complaining. Had they not banned them, I’m sure the criticism now would be nothing like we had in 2008.

    In my personal opinion all it takes is some getting used to, but it’s safer. Driving around at more than 300 kilometers an hour with solid objects like guardrail, walls and tyre walls will always be dangerous. But if they can prevent some dangers, like loose parts hitting drivers on their heads, they must. They owe it to the drivers who lost their lives, in my opinion at least.

  7. I wouldn’t argue that F1 shouldn’t be dangerous, but how does Aeroscreen impact this? All it does is (mostly) eliminate the chances of getting hit head-on by debris, this doesn’t change the core of F1 of athletics, brave maneuvers, etc. I can understand arguments against it on an aesthetic basis but that’s it. What makes F1 F1 won’t change because of it.

  8. For me it’s not so much that danger is important, the speed these cars are travelling will always create danger and a spectacular crash isn’t diminished just because a driver isn’t injured (or worse), in fact quite the opposite. To see Alonso get up and walk away from his Aus accident makes these guys more of a hero. My personal view is that F1 and it’s community spend so much time talking about safety and prioritising it as the biggest issue, it seems like the H&S culture we live in is now is also dominating our little bit of escapism that is the F1 world. Maybe I’m a dinosaur (at 30 years old) but when safety and green credentials are two of F1’s highest priorities is it any wonder the entertainment suffers? We spend more time discussing safety now in a time when F1 is the safest it’s ever been (and possibly the most boring).

    1. If I remember correctly, when Ratzenberger crashed the commentators in the british broadcast were talking about how Formula One was at the safest it had ever been.

  9. To me, formula one and all motor racing is dangerous. That is inescapable. I checked strongly agree. If it wasn’t dangerous it would not be motor racing, it would be a bunch of rich people doing laps in cars with air bubbles around them at 10mph. Who would watch that?

  10. The Answer to the question lies in defining the word danger.
    I believe Driving a car with the pace of Formula 1 will always be at risk, every one know before they get into cars that its risk for them but the standards of safety became so better such that even when we saw a car flipping in air and crashing hard we saw Mark Webber comes out safely in valencia 2010. The aero screen might prevent the debris hitting the driver and avoid the situations like Justin and Massa , but question is what if they come from any other way such that Aero screen might not be helped.
    saying that to avoid Bianchi crash we need to up the safety measures not only on cars but also the track marshaling systems. The Tractor in Suzuka should never be there and then again we also saw in recent Chinese GP where marshals are not up to task by doing silly things we all saw.
    So its not just about Having Aero screens in cars but also having standards in Marshaling systems or upgrading them even more to decrease the issues/hazards.

  11. “The idea that a sporting contest becomes more meaningful when its competitors are exposed to greater risk seems like relic from a past era”

    Exactly. Good and timely poll this. Hope it gets notice.

    1. Some of us prefer the past era.

  12. My opinion is:
    1) Make the cars go as fast as possible,
    2) Make the aero as minimally intrusive to the car behind as possible,
    3) Make the cars as SAFE as possible.

    I would like to see the best technology being invented and driven. I would like to believe this formula is the apex of man’s ability to make fast cars that go round race tracks. The above criteria have a huge tension between them, but that’s what attracted me to the sport when I was a kid in my young mind.

    What I don’t want to see, is the constant convolution of compromise and gimmickry.

    1. lockup (@)
      8th May 2016, 13:14

      Me too @hare. F1 is about excellence, for me. That’s quite enough.

      1. Yeah I don’t agree with the ‘Show’ line adopted by Bernie. It’s a show because it’s the latest and greatest and deserves keen eyes on it.

        I can play online games for a show :)

  13. What I want to see is risk not danger. When a driver is on the edge there needs to be a risk of a big accident but most important is that they walk out.

    Having said that I’m still not in favour of the new head protection ideas, I would rather keep F1 unique from other series and see improvements to the helmets instead.

    An interesting thought ; if we took safety to the extreme and had the cars remote controlled from simulators would it still be as entertaining. If I’m honest the answer to me is no even though it would be the same sport with no danger.

  14. No matter what one does, there is always an element of danger in sports that pushes limits of extreme. Take sky diving for example. There is always a chance of the diver plunging to his death. but you don’t see him diving into a huge hammock to break his fall. You don’t see a bull rider wearing a metal armor to lessen the impact of a raging bull.
    Likewise, F1 also has an element of danger. It always has and always will. It is however naive to say that F1 is all about the thrill of danger. If that were so, the bravest people in the world, would the the best F1 drivers rather than the ones who are talented in driving.

    A lot of people seems to miss the point that having canopy protection is for a very specific situation where flying debris can injure the driver. It does nothing to prevent the driver from crashing out of a race due to errors or incidents. Injury will still occur. Except for those rare freak incidents like that nut smashing Massa’s helmet.

    Danger by itself is not an essential part of Formula 1. But when any sport is taken to the extreme, there will always be danger. Danger and extreme sports are two sides of the same coin. One can only reduce danger significantly by making the sport less extreme. The canopy does not make the sport itself any less extreme.

  15. Evil Homer (@)
    8th May 2016, 13:18

    I am watching Moto GP now, looks fast and dangerous, i wish i could put a bubble around them!!

    Ok, sarcasm aside, yes Senna knew racing was risky and yes he always looked to improve it- show him a current day F1 car compared to what he drove and i think he would be happy.

    We had a meet n greet with Jolylon Palmer in Melbourne and i asked if F1 should have a halo- “NO!” If asked the same from the media if would have been a typical drivers association PR comment- some might want it, but i honestly think most drivers dont.

    Indy racing in circles is more dangerous, let them test it for a year or two. If it helps well lets look at it.

  16. To answer a different question, F1 cars with cockpit protection will still be dangerous.

  17. WilliamB (@william-brierty)
    8th May 2016, 13:32

    Why on earth does driving at speeds of 200mph, and under forces of up to 6.0 G need to be made more exciting by peril? What is not sufficient about this high-speed, gladiatorial sport that requires the prospect of death or injury to improve the spectacle? Are fans turning on in hope of seeing death or injury, and are drivers better drivers because they haven’t died or been injured? No, the world has moved on from such crude narrative disequilibrium, and today we see the drivers’ reputations bolstered by the raw brilliance of their sporting performances, and not because they are the survivors of some sporting Ypres.

    But what is danger? I would argue that danger is a part of F1 inasmuch as danger is a part of life, and there is a line to be drawn between mitigating danger and living life. It is a line MotoGP (and motorcycle racing more broadly) has drawn, where injury is seen as an inherent risk of competing, and it is a line F1 must now draw.

    1. ‘Bolstered by the raw brilliance of their sporting performances’

      I think part of the problem today for some people is that F1 doesn’t really allow for raw brilliance to shine through, so limiting are these tires and cars from drivers pushing them or themselves to any sort of limits that are awe inspiring.

      I’m sure a healthy percentage are against a halo or aero screen because the dumbed down tracks with ever more forgiving run-offs, and the level of conservation needed, is taking much of what is enthralling about F1 away.

  18. slightly Disgaree? whats that? :)

    1. I picked that. There are given, non-preventable dangers in F1- like going 180+ mph down a straight or through a corner. And there are preventable dangers- like a tire or a piece of debris hitting a driver in the head.

  19. If the current generations of drivers just hopped into Lotus 49s and raced around the Nordschleife, would I watch it? Yes.
    Would I be more excited than for a “normal” race? Yes.
    Would I feel a slight bit of guilt creeping in from the back of my head even if everything went well? Yes.
    Would I do it myself (racing around the Nordschleife in a Lotus 49)? No.
    Would I try and go fast in a current gen F1-car around the Shanghai-circuit? Yes (and probably end up still finding gravel… if I don´t stall it before)

    The point is, the only guys who should be asked which driver-safety is adequate is the drivers themselves. As long as there is danger left in F1 (and there always will be, no matter how hard safety is pushed), us couch-viewers are in no position to demand “Go, risk yourself for my entertainment!”

  20. I propose speed limit to 100kmph in F1 for “safety reasons”.

  21. Essential? No. Inherent? Yes.

    Little story. I was karting with a load of mates a few weekends go, 70+mph karts, and on the exit of a very fast corner into a much tighter corner, someone tapped my rear halfway through, spun me round, and I came to a stop in the middle of the track, facing the wrong way. I’m sure you can guess what happened next.

    Around the fast corner came my mate, full chat, and we had a MASSIVE head-on. Both karts written off, both of us in the ambulance to hospital. It wasn’t pretty and man, were we both hurting!

    It could have ended much worse than it did, we’re both well aware of that, but at the same time, we’re all going karting again next weekend, and we all know full well that the exact same thing could very easily happen again. Some of you are no doubt thinking “racers,” some of you are no doubt thinking “idiots.”

    I agree with both sides, but I suppose ultimately, my personal view is don’t get in if you’re not prepared to accept that you might not get out again. Where you draw that level of “acceptability” is always going to be an intensely personal thing for every individual, and as such is pretty much one of those endless debates.

    Personally, I wouldn’t want head protection, but I can understand why others would.

  22. Actually I think the danger of motor racing is pretty much intrinsicly built into it. If there’s zero danger then it might as well be a video game.

    But risking an injury by going flat out through 130R with a barrier on the outside is a bit different just getting 100% unlucky with an errant tyre smacking you in the head.

    1. @gitanes

      Agree 100%. There is inherent danger racing around at 300+ kmh, and the risk of contact or a crash in to the barriers are always present. I don’t mind if they replace run off areas with grass or gravel, and make the circuit layout more challenging or unforgiving for the driver. I’m all for it. Everyone wants to see the best drivers really being challenged, and the dangers that are inherent with that race track should be acceptable to the race driver.

      What’s not acceptable is making the sport ‘unnecessarily’ dangerous. If cockpit protection or other forms of safety can be engineered to save injury or death of a driver, then it should be implemented. If freak accidents like Felipe and Justins could be avoided, I don’t see the debate in it. I’m pretty sure that’s not the kind of dangerous anyone should really want.

  23. RP (@slotopen)
    8th May 2016, 14:00

    I think the question is framed inelegantly. I agree we should accept the danger of racing. But we should also strive for safety. Otherwise drivers (especially us on the street) put ourselves and others at risk for purely selfish reasons.

    Car performance should not be lower, for example. The car should have a driver in it, at least in F1.

    But I think closed cockpits are needed. F1 should also be a testbed for advanced safty technology.

    I simply can’t enjoy racing or driving if the risk is not managed.

  24. It isnt about the sport needing any sort of predefined danger to be fun but rather all safetymeasures hampers the enjoyment and the awe of the sport which is supposed to be on the edge for both the drivers and the cars.

    These are grown men(maybe women in the future) that have accepted the danger and are one of the 22 lucky people in the world that gets to drive in Formula 1. We dont need to babysit them and spend billions to save one privileged life in 20 years and at the same time destroy the sport they have dedicated their life to.

    “If we accept that Formula One should be dangerous then it follows that there is some level of driver injury we’re willing to tolerate. One fatality per year? Two per decade?”

    The only way to make it entierly safe is to have the drivers go around on crazy carts and so we have already accepted that Formula one should be dangerous and the eternal debate is just about where we draw the line between entertainment/thrillseeking and safety.

  25. Why don’t we do away with all open wheel racing and go to closed cockpit sports cars? The lines are blurring the further with the introduction of screens as per Red Bull design and we getting further away from proper open wheel racing. Look at the concept cars that were shown last year really just sports cars.

    1. @valkrider, I actually wish they did that. Go with a design similar to the Red Bull X2010 or MP4-X. There are very good reasons for ditching open cockpits (safety) and open wheel design (stop using the FW for managing front tyre wake, which loses performance while behind other cars).

    2. We already have that. It is called LMP1

      1. No. LMP1 are endurance racers. F1 cars should be slimmer, much faster, more extreme sprint racers.

        1. @me4me Well to bad the safety dont allow for that.

          1. @rethla, Why is that?

          2. @me4me Well thats what this article is about. Im all for faster and slimmer cars but the majority isnt.

  26. F1 should minimize personal danger (health consequences) but allow for severe sporting danger (failing to finish a race by touching the wall, failing to score points, risk of getting disqualified etc). What F1 shouldn’t do in incorporate half-way jobs like the Halo or Aeroscreen. In my opinion they should go for a full canopy. A good looking long and slim one, like on the MP4-X concept car.

  27. I am in favour of additional cockpit protection and I do not believe that F1 needs to be dangerous to be exciting. However, in some other cases more safety might mean less fun so one has to draw the line somewhere. Circuit design is a good example. Would we want to say goodbye to Monaco just because the circuit is not safe enough? It has been said many times that dull ‘Tilkedromes’ are simply an inevitable consequence of contemporary safety requirements. So yes, there is such a thing as too much safety.

    I disagree that cockpits should be left the way they are just to keep F1 safe. Aesthetics is probably not a good excuse to dismiss aeroscreens or ‘halos’ either. But I understand the concerns of those fans, who are wondering what F1 might do next to improve safety.

    1. just to keep F1 *unsafe*

  28. The question “Formula One has to be dangerous?” is a bit “all or none”, but as written, I have to strongly agree. The alternative, taken not to an extreme but to its logical conclusion, is to put the 22 drivers on computer-scored simulators and let the WDC be determined with no physical risk at all. It will still be “athletic ability, tactical skill and technical knowledge” although the athletic ability would resemble more the life of a couch-potato than a proper human being.
    Bluntly, we’re all gong to die of something — a lightning strike, being hit by a school bus, or plain old age, whatever. Over the last 76 years, I’ve driven cars at nearly 200mph, raced them at over 150mph, flown jet fighters at Mach 2+, and single-handed a sail boat around the world. I’m still alive and healthy, proud of my life, and also very proud of F1 drivers who (well paid or not) are willing to show that they are the best in the world. I knew Jimmy Clark, Peter Collins, François Cévert, and met many others; they were genuine, good people. Did they want to die? Of course not. Did they want to race in F1 and be at the top of the world? Yes. Let us respect Formula One, not degrade it to “just another job on TV.”

  29. ColdFly F1 (@)
    8th May 2016, 14:56

    Where to stop? (I really don’t know)

    What if a car loses a spring and hits the aeroscreen of a trailing car at full speed just to side?
    The surviving driver can hold a ulogy at the funeral of the spectator killed when the spring caramboled over the fence.

    I really don’t know where to stop! Watching autonomous cars via a TV screen is certainly too far!

    1. @coldfly

      What if a car loses a spring and hits the aeroscreen of a trailing car at full speed just to side?
      The surviving driver can hold a ulogy at the funeral of the spectator killed when the spring caramboled over the fence.

      Someone’s been watching the Final Destination movies :P

  30. The physics of F1 mean that it IS dangerous. Until we develop force fields and time machines, moving at over 200mph with solid objects in the vicinity implies the possibility of sudden deceleration, blunt trauma, penetrating injuries, neck injuries, etc. We can’t change that, and I believe the physics involved imply that we will continue to experience tragedy from time to time while the sport continues at all.

    The answer, however, is not to do everything possible to avoid injury and tragedy. That’s 20-ish drivers in Priuses…Priusi?…slow boring cars using their turn signals appropriately and only passing under strictly-controlled situations in order to manage the risk.

    Personally, I think the pace of serious injury and death in the post-Senna era has been better than excellent. In the case of F1, it seems to me that we should spent the time and energy to make sure that TRACTORS aren’t on active racetracks instead of redesigning the cars. Maybe take a page from Monaco and require pre-positioned cranes that can reach a vehicle anywhere on the track? That may sound weird but then again we’re basically talking about designing a light, nimble race car that would have saved Jules Bianchi’s life when he slammed his face into a tractor at over 100 mph, which seems like a less-realistic engineering challenge.

    I am not at all in favor of risk for risk’s sake, especially when I’m talking about other people’s lives. F1 has, and should continue to work hard to ferret out and eliminate unnecessary risk. It just seems to me that the risk we’re talking about right now with these halo and canopy designs are caused by vehicles on track in Bianchi and De Villota’s cases. The Justin Wilson Indicar examples, it seems to me, is the result of the nature of the tracks themselves – proximate jersey barriers and tall wire walls create large clouds of debris and keep them on the track, right in drivers’ faces. Maybe canopies make a lot of sense in that sport if the decision is made to keep current track designs. I just don’t see the problem they solve in F1 that can eliminate the risk of driving face-first into a tractor or a truck, and I think a more elegant solution is to to move the tractors and the trucks.

    1. Ugh…the risk we’re talking about ….IS caused by vehicles on track and the indicar examples, it seems to me, ARE the result of the nature of the tracks themselves. The risk of grammar mistakes is real, people!

  31. Yes, and no. An ideal compromise must be found, I think. I think that preventable dangers should not exist in any scenario in any kind of racing where the drivers or riders are forced to do something that they are contracturally obligated to do that has preventable dangers.
    Preventable dangers are things like crash barriers, lack of medical facilities, and open cockpits. All of those things are preventable dangers. I’ll give a good example: The Isle Of Man TT. It used to be part of what is now the MotoGP championship until 1976. That race was (and still is) so dangerous that riders like Giacomo Agostini refused to accept that such a race as part of a scenario where riders were forced to do it. Now, the IOM TT is at its ideal stage- it is an entirely voluntary race, and is not part of any championship.

    Open cockpits are another thing. RBR’s aero screen- that isn’t the solution. The screen is almost completely opaque and the design itself looks rather cumbersome and will create more problems than solutions, particularly in regards to a driver having to be extricated from a car if necessary. In open wheel racing, a driver’s helmet should always be visible. So the best compromise, in my opinion would be a fighter jet-style canopy that completely envelops the cockpit. The material used should be the same as an aero screen, but like a fighter jet-style canopy the material should be transparent (see-through).

    But there are non-preventable dangers in racing. If racing drivers or riders go at high speeds performing to a specific vehicle’s maximum ability, there will always be a crash at some point down the line, no matter what kind of tracks used with the right safety measures. So it makes no sense to get rid of fast corners after fast sections on a track.

    My point is this: design a track as spectacular and as challenging as possible- but make the safety arrangements around it as good as possible.

    1. Does anyone know why we don’t have circuits like the old Osterreichring, or Watkins Glen anymore? Because the right thing to do- particularly in the Osterrwichring’s case, was simply to decrease the apexs of some of the really quick corners to make the corners slightly slower to adjust to rising speeds, and add run off area- but not eliminate those corners entirely.

  32. In the end I think it all down to how much injury and death is the level we want to be at. If we want to actively stop the use of safety devices that prevent death and injury then we must also have some level of death and injury where that goal is achieved. Defining that is always going to be difficult but for that approach necessary.

    For me that is horrible thing to do. I can understand that events like isle of man motorbike race or bear fighting or whatever can’t be held to the same standard as multibillion sport that is 90% about the equipment and 10% of the car. Simply from monetary perspective it would be ridiculous that we put drivers into cars with the intent that some of them die or get injured. It just comes of as extreme greed when the almighty dollar and the shock value of death is more important than the money spent to ensure safety of the drivers, spectators and track personnel. Especially when the technology exists.

    Another reason I think is purely technological. F1 has always prided itself being the fastest racing series on earth with technologically advanced cars. This innovation does not only include things that make the car faster, more reliable, better to drive or the new manufacturing and building technologies. It also means safety technology. We have helmets, seat belts and other countless inventions to prevent death and injury. We have rules to prevent unsafe technological features from being added. A series can not call itself technologically advanced if it refuses to use existing technologies to make the sport safer.

    Many people talk about the dna of f1. Dna is a biological concept which does not mean stagnation. Dna is about evolution. Progress, adaptability and learning. Dna of anything is evolving thing that changes from day to day and year to year. Sometimes things can happen that change things very quickly. Dna in f1 has changed multiple times over the years. We have gone from skinny tires to wide tires, we have gone from wingless cars to aerodynamically focused cars. We have had turbos, super chargers and all kinds of engines. We have had multiple different car designs. Some without front wings, some with huge front wings. Some with windscreens and some with no cockpit around the driver at all. We have had h-pattern gearboxes, clutch pedals and we have had automatic gearboxes. We have had very primitive suspension designs and we have had active suspension.

    This is not just about the car. It is about the safety. Just like f1 is willing to accept the latest tech tools to make the cars faster it should be willing accept the tools that make it safer. The dna of everythign and even f1 is about progress and evolution on all fronts. It is not about what it is now or what it was 5 years ago. It is about what f1 has always been. Not this or that but all of them. Progress.

  33. F1 is high speed open wheel open cockpit racing entertainment, which in it self has inherent dangers. And every driver should decide if they are willing to take that risk or not.

    Adding safety is perfectly fine as long as it doesn’t deviate from what F1 is. Crumple zones, side impact protection mono cock, saferbarrier all fine solutions but 100% safety doesn’t exist unless you give all drivers a game console and let them race that way. And even then you run the risk drivers might die from boredom.

    There for I am against the Halo and Aeroscreen concepts as it deviates to that what the F1 entertainment is.

  34. F1 shouldn’t be dangerous, EVEN iF it was part of its alure especially when I started watching in the early 90s. We need to find new ways to make it appealing (preferably not by using gimmicks).

  35. No, danger is not an essential part of Formula One.

    When I first loved the sport back in ’95, I was fascinated by those machines but even more by the drivers. They were smart, athletic and with an ability to talk several languages.

    I love this sport because you have to be near-perfect at every turn, every sector, every lap. Sometimes the sport looks repetitive, but once you watch a full race onboard you understand how tough it is.

  36. If you want danger go play on the freeway. I would rather Senna ,Wilson and a dozen other Sportsmen still be alive. Protect the head. Get it?

  37. Craig Wilde
    8th May 2016, 17:06

    The idea that ‘Formula 1 should be dangerous’ is an utterly meaningless argument as you can’t remove the danger from any form of sport, F1 included.
    I’m going to assume this point has already been made, but you can’t remove the inherent danger of racing in cars that go in excess of 200mph, it’s simply impossible. However, minimizing excessive risks is a good idea, which will include protecting the driver’s head. It’s the fatal flaw with open wheel/cockpit racing in that the only exposed part of the driver is also the most sensitive part of them, so really some form of protection is preferable to hoping nothing hits them.
    I do agree that it would suck to not see the driver as clearly, but it would suck less then an errant piece of debris striking their helmet.

  38. Seems to be a fair amount of consensus. There should be ‘risk’ attached to getting it wrong in motor racing. That risk should involve potentially not finishing, potentially wrecking the car, flipping and spinning; but it should not include the acceptance of risk of death, or life limiting injury. I don’t know anyone who wants to see people hurt or killed. The adrenaline of going fast/ watching people go fast and getting it right by the skin of their teeth, or things going spectacularly wrong – that’s what people want. Anything that allows that to happen but prevents serious damage or death is welcome in my opinion. I am not saying that racing should be banned unless the risk of such injury is zero, but I do believe we should be working towards that risk being as near to zero as possible.

  39. The head area is a major risk zone, I can, off hand recall many incidents where we almost got into trouble, Massa in Hungary, the Macca at the Red Bull ring, Schumacher in Abu Dhabi when the Force India went over his car.

    And what about the big crashes? Alonso this year in Australia, he said himself he just didn’t want to hit his head.

    F1, is not safe. We have serious crashes each and every year.

    As Coulthard has said, when you buy a ticket, “motor racing is dangerous” is written on it for a reason.

    But acknowledging that it’s inherently dangerous and making it more dangerous than it needs to be? I can not understand how anyone can be on the other side of this argument.

    This is no computer game. If we don’t act, then someone gets hurts or god forbid dies? How can we live with that?

    Bianchi’s crash was a result of decisions and events, not a freak accident. The bare minimum we should do to show our respect to him is try to never let it happen again. If F1 being dangerous risks another death, then I strongly disagree. I don’t have the English to describe how strongly I disagree.

    1. Oh, thought of some more, the incident at the start of spa when a Macca went over Alonso’s Ferrari I think in 2012. Fisichella and Nakajima at the start of Instanbul 08. Webbers flip in Valencia, if he can flip, he can also hit the barrier upside down or sideways which would be bad.

      And don’t get me started on crashes before 2000, you’d never shut me up. (Which frankly, is bad for everyone.)

  40. High speed already carries an inherent risk, a danger if you will. Minimizing safety for drivers, team members, officials and fans is foolhardy, reckless and irresponsible. Purposefully maximizing danger borders on criminal.

    Over my 50 years plus watching F1, IndyCar, and many other forms of racing some of my favorite drivers have been killed or injured. If safety had not been continuously and progressively improved I could no longer be a fan. It is far too heartbreaking otherwise. If you care about our so highly revered drivers in particular, then you care about safety. If not, then @keithcollantine ‘s “macho posturing” quote fits perfectly.

  41. Don’t care. Just make sure no one dies and the racing is good.

  42. I think motorsport in itself has to be dangerous enough to create difference between drivers. I think if motorsport had no risk every driver could eventually hit the same speed through the same corner. That element of risk is programmed differently in every person and makes the standout drivers even better, I think.

  43. Voted “slightly agree”. My reasoning is that the march of the health and safety crusade has to stop somewhere. I don’t like to watch crashes and be afraid to lose a driver certainly. I wouldn’t want to go back to the days when 1-2 drivers were dying each year. The safety improvements that were made since then I welcome with both hands. But this relentless drive to make F1 safer than a walk in a park is ridiculous and a dangerous slope. It can never be 100% safe and still be F1. What will happen when in 10 years time there inevitably be a fatal accident despite the head protection. The health and safety lunatics will preach getting the drivers out of the cars altogether. Nothing should not be considered in the name of safety, they’ll say. And given that it’s fashionable in this day and age to be anti-cars and also anti any dangerous activity(even if it’s only perceived dangerous) these radical lunatics might just get their wish

    This(F1 case) is only a symptom of a general movement towards making humanity impotent as a race. This ridiculous desire to get rid of any danger whatsoever(like you really can). People get killed exploring(or even just trekking) in the Himalayas, so let’s ban all the trekking. There’s a huge amount of diving accidents each year so let’s ban diving. Let’s ban crossing streets, let’s ban everything! Not only this movement is hypocritical in the extreme, it’s also extremely dangerous in itself as it goes against the very nature of what makes us human

    The rot must stop here. F1 cars now are extremely safe. Those comparing people with views like mine to those opposed to Jackie Stewart safety crusade of 1970 are either stupid or hypocritical. Because it’s not the same. The cars were objectively not safe then(also the tracks, the pitlane etc.), and they’re objectively safe now, able to withstand the most violent accidents with no harm to the driver.

    The reason I only voted “slightly agree” is because I believe the question itself is wrong. Of course F1 doesn’t have to be dangerous but it has to be still F1. And F1 by definition will always have the element of danger inherent because of the speeds and the human body’s characteristics. And if the price to pay to still have F1 is 1 driver killed in a freak accident in 20 years then so be it. The drivers all know the risk. It’s very good odds, very low risk, certainly worth paying for being an F1 driver. Certainly the odds to die during your career as an F1 driver are even more a long shot than the 1:5000 the bookies gave to Leicester City winning the Premier League. Sure that happened. The miracle. First new champion since Nottingham Forest in 1977. That was in a different age 40 years ago. So what? Doesn’t tell you anything as an exception to the rule only strengthens the rule. Let F1 still be F1 or we might all just as well go home, lock ourselves down ,cover our heads and hum loudly

  44. I voted strongly disagree,… Risk is essential to motoracing. Who dares to go flat, who can pull it off.

    Who risks the most on track… But punishment I want to see is lost laptime. Not loss of life or limb.

    Let drivers be stuck in gravel not grave.

  45. Do believe, much like the transgender washroom debate, that we’re talking about one thing (washrooms) while we really mean another (bigotry) with the “danger” discussion.

    On this, we’re talking looks, not danger.

    I think if the windscreen/halo were less obvious, people would care less. They wouldn’t harp on about the danger requirement. We don’t see the HANS device so we don’t complain it takes away from the danger (and stops people from breaking their necks).

    What needs to happen is there needs to be a full redesign of the cars with the windscreen integrated from the get-go to be fully part of the design and lines, not an add-on. Show that car to people and they’ll likely be far more receptive and all this “danger” BS will subside.

  46. Michael Brown (@)
    8th May 2016, 19:07

    I think a distinction needs to be made when people talk about danger.

    If you mean mortal danger, the risk that people could be killed, then I disagree with that kind of danger. I’m tired of the argument that F1 needs danger as a basis for rejecting safety changes. Unless you mean the danger where a mistake could leave the car out of the race, like say, at Monaco. That’s the spectacle of Formula 1. High speeds, and and error will leave your car crashed into the barrier.

    1. +1

      Well said

  47. I believe danger was a huge part of what drew massive crowds to motorsports events up until the 90s. I know people have trouble accepting this morbid fact because it offends their delicate sensibilities but there it is.

    I’m very cynical about the safety advances made since Imola 94. I believe they were more to do with holding on to sponsors because having young men dying on live early afternoon television was just too much at the dawn of the PC era.

    Now they’re not even allowed to race in full wet conditions. The sport has been sissified into decline to suit some kind of upper middle class car buying family audience while sports like UFC go from strength to strength.

    1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      8th May 2016, 23:07

      It was deeper than that. At least according to Max Mosley, there were several (unnamed) countries seriously considering banning motorsport on the back of F1’s bad start to 1994 (not so much that there had been two fatal crashes, but because there’d been 8 serious accidents leading to various levels of injury/death and the distribution showed that there was no level of skill which lent immunity to it). It wouldn’t be the first time, either – Switzerland banned motorsport for over 50 years after the Le Mans 1955 disaster, and several other countries had a temporary ban until the end of the year in question.

      Had no changes been made, there was a risk that the FIA would have lost several countries and several markets to all its series – not just F1. And if that had happened, Max would assuredly have been forced to resign, as no FIA President has ever failed their duty to that dramatic an extent.

      As for the “full-wet” issue, that’s a combination of the current tyres plain not being up to the job (too much spray kicked up due to improvements in the amount of water the tyres can clear combined with aero in the case of the full wet, and the intermediate tyre gradually being optimised for less wet conditions than previously – to the point where there is a gap where neither tyre works properly) and the current preference for having races in the late afternoon when racing in Asia (the main growth market), meaning rain often coincides with less-than-full light. The heavy clouds that accompany rain and varying degrees of sunset simply do not mix.

  48. ‘Is danger an essential part of Formula One?’

    no, it is merely a by-product of the rules governing formula one from the start; the by-product of rapidly advancing technology and rapidly increasing car speeds; a by-product of increasing aero/ground effect/engine power over time

    danger is not desired, it is a mere consequence

    1. There is a “duty of care”, if you can make it safer you should. I have a suspicion that there will be visual problems caused by lens effects in the transparent canopies. The halo device avoids that.
      Motor racing is inherently dangerous, no avoiding that. It’s easy for Bernie to speak against safer cockpits, he no longer drives a racing car, maybe he should.

  49. I don’t believe Formula 1 fundamentally has to be dangerous. F1 is a performance sport, not a gratuitous exhibition of danger. The only reason it was ever dangerous was because of compromises made in the name of performance. As performance increased that danger also increased until eventually sanity took hold and safety was given it’s due priority.

    Don’t get me wrong I watch The Isle of Man TT and I’m gob smacked by the full on metal clangers those guys have to to that. I don’t think you could ever increase the safety of that event to rationally sane levels without it not being that event any more. But F1 has already seen an incredible increase in safety while still being the same sport of matching skill to ingenuity to make a car go round a track as fast as possible. Leaving the drivers head exposed to stray bit or flying cars doesn’t make any of what goes on for 99% of the time any more exciting and that 1% when decent people wince as something nearly takes a drivers head off isn’t fun to watch.

  50. Mike (@grippgoat)
    8th May 2016, 21:10

    I do think motor racing should put the machines at risk. But it should absolutely use all available technology, and develop new technology, to ensure that only the machines are at risk.

  51. The thing is – F1 will remain dangerous, as long as the laws of physics as we know them today apply. If you have a human body traveling at 300+ kph and then it is brought to a sudden and immediate halt (or merely a change of direction), bad things happen to it.

    So even if some sort of additional cockpit protection is introduced, F1 (and motorsport) will remain dangerous. It is not possible to remove 100% of the risk, unless we completely eliminate the human factor and have robotized cars going around the tracks.

    Having said so, i believe additional cockpit protection is a must, just as helmets were a must when they were introduced, or seatbelts, firesuits, HANS devices, and each time the naysayers were out in force telling us that trying to improve the safety will be the end of motorsports. Yet, racing is still here, and will still continue on even with added cockpit protection.

  52. No, but the excitement and the competent rules are very necessary. For example, the DRS should be better part of the series with a few modification…

  53. Yes, danger is an essential part of racing because with our current technology you can’t have one without the other.

  54. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
    8th May 2016, 22:50

    Danger is an essential part of Formula One simply because it is physically impossible to completely remove it. Even a completely robotised series playing to a crowd of holograms, employing all-digital marshalling, would assuredly find some method to injure and/or kill people, simply from the forces involved and the tendency of humans not to behave as systems and “standard procedures” would suggest. The very fact that it can’t be fully removed inevitably makes that danger an attraction (usually one among many attractions, but I know one “ghoul” who watches purely for the crashes), especially among those who haven’t followed the sport long enough to see such an attitude taken to its logical conclusion.

    However, F1 doesn’t need that danger to be worth watching or be worthwhile as a sporting endeavour. Limit-pushing is an essential part of its nature, but only limits relevant to the sport need to be pushed for this to work. No competitor gains any sporting advantage from being injured in pursuit of victory (it would be more surprising if a sport existed where such a thing was possible). In fact, the sport is stronger for keeping everyone involved fit and healthy, because time not spent recovering from an injury can be spent becoming better at the job and thus offering a stronger challenge to rivals.

    Also, danger that could be removed without damaging the sporting spectacle but is left in anyway is only enchanting in situations where the danger is the primary point. That may work in extreme sports, but F1 is not an extreme sport in the sense that term is generally used, and attempting to become so would lead to it getting banned from many countries quickly. It’s simply too high-profile and too regular to make such a rebranding work. In a sport where other things are more important (in F1’s case, speed, tactics, finesse, style and control to name but five), unnecessary danger is a distraction at best and a reprehensible gimmick at worst.

    It’s not even as if unneccesary danger increases the level of courage required. It takes a certain amount of courage to step into a car knowing that the risk of injury or death is always present. However, the fact that F1 is only truly dangerous if something goes wrong (as opposed to sports like boxing and rugby, where it’s also a by-product of certain potentially successful actions) means that a probability of one in a million, or a probability of one in ten, means the same (assuming the danger is one that cannot be reasonably prevented without impeding the ability of F1 to be a meaningful sport). It gives the defence of “If nothing goes wrong, I’ll be fine”… …meaning increasing the danger above the minimum determined by current relevant knowledge doesn’t increase the courage requirement in a driver.

    From a strict “sporting attraction” sense, any safety item that works and does not impede the ability of Formula One racers to do their job of racing a Formula One car should be adopted, as that course best supports the ability of Formula One to be a strong sport that tests many parts of a driver’s skill. The fact these drivers race in a series where the energies involved mean injury and death are inevitably plausible already proves their courage. We need heroes – heroes in a position to show their best stuff.

    (I have doubts about both the halo and aeroscreen, mostly because they seem rushed and over-politicised, so that the safety downsides may not get ironed out as I’ve come to expect from previous safety additions).

  55. Doesn’t increasing safety makes drivers drive more dangerously? If there’s little consequence to a mistake or a stupid move, what stops them from putting it on the line? “It’s for safety” is a non-argument, because safety doesn’t have a finite end. One day, the yet undiscovered possibility of an serious injury in F1 will be uncovered – somebody will be hurt, and there will be an overreaction as always, resulting in yet another safety measure that will further deprive F1 of being the kinda sport that tested a man’s limits. Fans will turn away from F1 even more.

    What I’m trying to say is that an element of danger is vital for Formula 1 to enforce rational behaviour on track. If drivers knew they were risking a bit more (nowadays they don’t even risk anything when going off the track – they have asphalt run-offs), they would back off in time. Instead, we have 17-year olds, the daddy’s boys, making it into F1 without breaking a sweat in the process. Kids who are yet to understand that their decisions in life have consequences, are thought of as being “mature drivers” that are supposed to handle the most evil and ferocious racing machines on the planet. We just simply can’t have drivers thinking, that they are safe.

    We need a major thinking overhaul vastly more that another safety measure, that will kill this sport even further.

    1. Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta)
      8th May 2016, 23:17

      The “major thinking overhaul” would require F1 to start allowing things that would carry the risk of harm even if completed successfully, or else have regular proofs of how dangerous it can be (preferably ones where those involved in the “proofs” survive, so they can pass on the message to the rookies personally). Otherwise, drivers simply think “if nothing goes wrong, I can’t get injured”, and that’s how we get to the situation where F1 can have scarily naive drivers. Not so much in 2016 (because most of the grid was at Suzuka 2014 and nearly all of them at Hungary the following year, and got the message that Jules Bianchi’s fate could be theirs), but in a few years’ time, when there’s a significant number of drivers who complete their kart-to-F1 transition without having an analogous experience.

    2. lockup (@)
      8th May 2016, 23:51

      This is an argument called risk compensation @xivizmath. It was used to argue against compulsory seat belt use in road cars. It was tested by studies into gap acceptance – the gap people would accept to turn across traffic coming towards them. What they found was that drivers who wore belts, even under compulsion, actually accepted less risk.

      1. @lockup That’s fascinating, thanks for that.

  56. Michael (@dedischado)
    9th May 2016, 0:39

    Yes and no.

    There will always be danger in going fast, that’s just physics. But consider that no one in Formula 1 is there unwillingly. They have all raced extensively and are fully cognizant of the risks. If I had it my way, all car safety measures would be decided by the drivers, to include test and reserve drivers that do not (often) race in F1. Personally, I do not see the big deal about larger windscreens, just set the minimum and maximum size (like the FIA already does with everything else) and leave it alone. Still open cockpit, still F1.

    So here is what I say; Make the GPDA a permanent organization with membership limited to those who are driving in the current year in F1 plus the T&R drivers. Let them vote on whether the safety measures are necessary. Respect their decision. No matter what. They are the ones that are putting their lives on the line and if they want safer cars, they can vote to change the rules to make them safer.

  57. Felix Rohr
    9th May 2016, 3:01

    Was never sure why the head always had to be so exposed. That’s just unnecessary risk.
    María de Villota & Felipe Massa could have walked away from their respective incidents and that’s just in F1. More than enough accidents have happened for this to be important enough to be implemented asap.
    This Red Bull solution is aesthetically good too.
    What else needs to happen before this is mandatory.

    1. Felix Rohr
      9th May 2016, 3:04

      Though, this solution (and any others) needs to be rain tested

  58. I don’t want to see anyone get hurt, but i am not in favour of any of the solutions presented thus far.

  59. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    9th May 2016, 5:47

    Pretty much every sport is dangerous – football is dangerous, diving is dangerous, ice skating is dangerous.

    The thing that sets Formula 1 and any kind of racing apart is the severity of the accident. I’m massively impressed by the safety regulations in F1. Can they be improved? Sure. Just as there is a fine line between performance and reliability, there is a fine line between safety and sport.

    There are some things that are no brainers – harder chassis, better helmets, neck supports etc, better brakes, tire tethers…

    Any change that’s made has to respect that line. The fact that we are on the fence about the halo and aeroscreens suggests that we feel that the line has been crossed. We all genuinely care about the drivers’ safety but we also have respect for the sport.

  60. Would I watch a man walk a tightrope between two buildings suspended 6 inches off the ground?

    The answer is no.

    Would I watch a man walk a tightrope between two buildings suspended 500ft above the ground?

    Yes I would.

    Do I want to see him die?
    The answer is no.

    Do I repect and admire him more when he walks the rope at 500ft?


    Why is this? I don’t know. To me it’s the courage of doing something dangerous but NOT dying that is awesome.

    If that makes me sick in the mind… Then I guess I’m sick in the mind. At least I’m honest about it.

    The problem comes with trying to quantify a danger value. I consider any further covering of the driver a step over my “saftey value limit” and therefore a certain amount of appeal is lost. Furthermore, I look at every other form of open wheel racing and say…why F1? Is the FIA going to enforce this on every other category under their jurisdiction? What about older historic categories… or does safety not count for them… just because.

    To me I also have a certain “historic/traditional value score”. Once again, the move to further cockpit protection goes the wrong way on this value too. The combination of these two factors (along with a few others) pushes me further away from the F1 I love and makes me less likely to watch in the future.

  61. From a desire standpoint, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. The realistic view dictates, such speeds will inevitably be dangerous, it is what it is.

  62. I’ll say right from the start that I quite like the Red Bull aeroscreen. OK, you cannot see the driver very well but with the high cockpit sides, your cannot see much of the driver anyway.

    My son was killed (in a motorcycle accident) by exactly the injury suffered by Bianchi where the head was turning and was suddenly stopped but the brain keeps turning inside the skull thus tearing all the blood vessels and nerve connections to the brain. No one has said it but I suspect this is also true for Schumaker. I was told by the Consultant that attended my son that he saw this accidental most often among Rugby Union players.

    Accidents happen in spite of your best efforts.

    1. So sorry for your lose.

  63. F1 is plenty safe, Bianchi was a freak incident and better procedures will prevent any recurrence.
    No need for any ugly halo or aeroscreen.
    Also I find it hilarious that people think current F1 with its huge safety margins is dangerous. Heck I face more danger driving my maruti on airport road in bangalore.

  64. When Alonso had his crash in Australia, he walked out the car and was back in two races later. Now consider how different things would have been had Alonso died in that crash.

    That’s why danger is not an essential part of F1.

  65. If you mess up you lose the race – not your life. F1 doesn’t need more danger, it needs more competition. That will bring former fans back to the sport. And EVERYONE knows that a more equitable spread of prize money is one of the easiest, most effective way to do it in the short-term. But greed and self-interest won’t allow it. Shame.

  66. Hmm… You have to understand the fact that there are men and women who find danger particularly exciting, it probably has always been this way and it will be this way for always, so they probably want F1 to be exciting. To call it relic from the past or macho posturing? Now that’s what I call utter nonsense.

    That’s not saying F1 should be dangerous just for the sake of it. The danger increase naturally with the increase of speed, but over the year the safety standard increased a lot, but the speed? Not so much I guess. So IMO the most part of the danger that comes with the speed has already been removed, surely there will still be weak points here and there, but freaky accident always happens, even in normal life.

    It’s like music, does a great song has to have noisy guitar riffs? No, but some people wouldn’t find that song exciting. Spirit of competition, the pursuit of technical excellence, it’s all good and great, but just not as exciting, nor unique.

  67. Furthermore, I very much doubt that in the early days people went to F1 races to watch drivers (and fans!!) die in spectacular fashion. If that was the case then F1 would still be as dangerous as it used to be. It is not.

  68. It’s a bit sad that danger and looks are the main talking points about the halo and aeroscreen solutions. Aesthetics and making drivers heroic just for the sake of it shouldn’t even be in question. What the talk and eventual decisions should be about is how effective these devices are – can they deflect anything, where do they deflect those objects, do they make drivers trapped or not, would it make things better or worse in a crash like Bianchi’s etc.

    If all questions are properly answered and these solutions don’t result in clear improvement, then you could argue about the aesthetics and romantics of danger, but until then, it’s pointless in my view – and reading comments like Ecclestone’s “Aeroscreen won’t save anybody” makes me upset. Horner’s point is correct on this matter (, and if anybody would just look into motorsport, they would think people here are crazy – how can it be an argument for putting the drivers’ lives into risk because “motorsport is dangerous”, when there are potential solutions to save them?

  69. “Is it essential for Formula One to be dangerous?”

    @keithcollantine I’m sorry to say this but I don’t think the question is particularly well worded, which makes it difficult to answer. My answer would be “yes it is essential, because you cannot make motorsport entirely safe due to its nature”. But is danger an essential factor in my enjoyment of F1? Absolutely not – I would prefer never to see another driver, marshal or spectator injured or killed during an event.

    I would have made the question something like – “Is danger a desirable factor in F1?”

    Maybe I’m being too pedantic. It’s just when I first saw the poll results I was shocked that around 40% of voters seemed to want to see drivers injured or killed for their entertainment. But like I said, I think people might be interpreting the question differently.

  70. I don’t know about you, But I like my racing drivers alive. When there was a huge push for safety in the 70s and 80s, people said the same thing. “It is a dangerous sport and it should remain dangerous”. Which is no argument for making it safe. I understand if it is Isle of man. Not formula 1. It should me made as safe as it can be.

  71. i believe all this call for more safety is a bit of an overreaction. granted, we did loose bianchi and wilson due to unhappy circumstances. but would a halo have helped in bianchis accident? the sheer force of his impact were enough to rip the roll cage and engine off, so i have doubts that the halo would’ve withstood the huge impact. as for wilsons accident, i think the problem is that the nose cone that hit his helmet was too strong and should’ve shattered at the point of karams crash in the first place.

    but i still voted for neither disagree or agree, because i don’t enjoy seeing drivers get injured. but i feel f1 is safe enough as it is.

    biggest worry for me are the looks. that halo looks horrible and i will never be a fan of it. i also think it makes explaining why i am a formula 1 fan to someone who isn’t, even harder than it already is.

  72. Do you agree with this statement: “Formula One has to be dangerous”?

    Disagree: 53%
    Agree: 38%

    Total Voters: 369

    Quite conclusive to me.

  73. No, in a word. F1 being spectacular is an essential part of it’s interest but not necessarily danger. F1 fans are generally a better class of people and I like to think none of us one want to see injuries or worse, however we do like a good spectacular crash id the driver gets up and walks away. If danger was F1’s appeal then there wouldn’t be many viewers left as it’s not particularly dangerous compared to the likes of Irish Road Racing etc. People tune in to watch the best against the best in the fastest equipment on the planet and I think we would generally agree the safer the better as long as it’s not detrimental to the show. Unfortunately the introduction of a halo is at detriment to the spectacle of the show because it’s downright ugly in the eyes of many. Many of us will accept it as a necessary evil, many will argue it’s a step too far in an already reasonably safe sport. Personally I’ll get used to it and I’ll always keep watching but it just takes another little bite out of the ‘spectacle’ and that will cost viewers in the same way the hybrid engines have by splitting opinion.

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