Anthoine Hubert tribute, Monza, 2019

Drivers warn danger can’t be eliminated from F1

2019 Italian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers say safety improvements cannot completely remove danger from the sport in the wake of Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert’s fatal crash last week.

The FIA has begun an investigation into the crash. Valtteri Bottas said he trusts the FIA will identify any possible changes which could have improved Hubert’s chance of survival.

“I know they are working a lot on safety in all the areas for sure with the tracks,” said the Mercedes driver. “Every detail is being looked at even more carefully. They are working hard for it.”

But he said not every possible risk can be eliminated. “The thing is in this sport there is an element that will always create dangerous situations and that’s the speed,” said Bottas. “When cars go more than 300kph there’s certain things you can do to minimise the damage and some things you really can’t.

“But I know for sure the FIA is pushing hard on that. We all drivers respect it a lot and we know we are in the safest hands that is possible at this time and for sure there’s still improvements to be done and found as these things shouldn’t happen.”

Daniel Ricciardo also said there are limits to how much safer motorsport can become.

“I haven’t looked into the accident itself: The barriers, how it was shaped, how the car came back,” he said. “So I don’t know, I’m sure there’s still things to improve on the cars but I also think the impact was so big I don’t know at the time what could have helped.

“Even if we make everything safe, still, travelling at these speeds, we’re not in a magic bubble so at some point we’re still going to put ourselves in some form of danger.”

Ricciardo admitted on Sunday he had doubts about taking part in the race following Hubert’s crash.

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“For sure Saturday night I was also questioning morally what was correct, if we should race and if that is actually the right thing to do,” he said.

Daniel Ricciardo, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2019
Ricciardo: “We’re not in a magic bubble”
“Also I just went through scenarios that if I did get in the car and feel like it wasn’t right or feel a form of fear than I said it’s probably not worth doing the race with that kind of state of mind. I went through a lot of ‘what ifs’.

“When I went into the car on Sunday it didn’t feel that nice in terms of I wasn’t sure if I still wanted to be out there racing. But then once we actually got going and I did my laps to the grid and went through Eau Rouge and all that, it all actually felt OK. I established it was a sadness, not a fear. If it was a fear, I wouldn’t be racing.”

Kevin Magnussen admitted he was affected by the tragedy in the build-up to the race.

“It was very emotional,” said the Haas driver. “You’re thinking things that normally you don’t think right before a race.

“When you see Anthoine’s family there with his helmet and all that, terrible. It’s not at all what you want to be thinking. Just terrible, I hope I never have to experience it again.”

Hubert’s Arden team have set out his Formula 2 garage as a tribute to the late driver at Monza this weekend (pictured).

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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9 comments on “Drivers warn danger can’t be eliminated from F1”

  1. Elimination and minimisation along with mitigation are two different things. Sure there is no such thing as 100% but through minimisation and mitigation we can strive to reach as close to 100% as possible.

  2. Yes indeed. The only way to ‘entirely’ eliminate the element of danger would be to stop all of Motorsport altogether.

    1. Absolutely @jerejj – there will always be a risk while there is racing.

  3. Safety of the cars and the track can only go so far. Physics and Biology tell us that just because you are strapped in safely, doesn’t mean you can’t do serious internal damage. Your organs aren’t strapped in. Sudden deceleration is the most dangerous thing, cos no one told your insides to brace themselves.

    Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push for better, but doesn’t mean we shouldn’t expect further tragedies in the future. This is why these racers are to be so admired.

  4. Just combine Esports with F1, drivers can sit in a room and drive remote control cars on track.

  5. Can they not increase the budget into barrier technology? Maybe some sort of catchment system so the car doesn’t spin back onto track?

    1. I think they could have some sort of encapsulating barriers, the question is how do they work and how big are they going to have to be. Also as was mentioned about physics still exists. The nose cone and side pods are essentially crumple zones designed to take the energy out of the crash and reducing transferring that to the driver. The problem with an absorbing barrier is you don’t want the car to stop dead because the sudden deceleration would be like falling then hitting the floor.

    2. We used to have that, “Catch fencing”. In its day it worked but often left the car and driver entangled and trapped. (Not to mention being hit on the head by the break-off support poles. The fire risk is much lower nowadays so it could be re-considered, but in a modern version.
      However you would need space, run-off areas to put the catch device all around the track. While they may catch and stop a car, it must be over a distance that allows an acceptable rate of deceleration. (Not forgetting the added impact of any rotary force)

  6. “Drivers warn danger can’t be eliminated from F1”

    IMO, that’s a good thing. It’s a big part of the attraction for many – if not most – drivers and fans who are honest enough to admit it. For me, the danger element is what elevates racers and fighters from “mere” sportsmen to true sporting “heroes” – especially in decades past. As Kenny Roberts used to say, ‘In this sport, you’ve got your a** in your hands.’

    During the F1 break, I rewatched Holyfield vs Bowe 1. Oh my. It just never gets old. It’s the kind of fight that leaves you conflicted; on the one hand, shaking your head in awe and admiration at the insane toughness and warrior spirit of both fighters but on the other hand, being genuinely concerned for their health and safety, such was the unrelenting ferocity of their epic battle.

    As recent events have justified, I feel similarly conflicted watching races like Indy, Texas, Pocono, Spa, Suzuka, IOM TT etc. – especially in the rain. Getting punched in the face and hitting barriers at ~200 mph are tough ways to make a living but as long as there are fighters and racers willing to take the risks, I’ll be happy to keep watching and reading about it.

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