How F1’s pursuit of safer racing is progressing 12 months since the tragedy of Spa

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Modern motorsport essentially boils down to the pursuit of maximum speed with utmost safety, with the latter always taking precedence over the former regardless of circumstance.

It was not always thus, as photographs of pioneering drivers jostling for the lead in shirt sleeves and cloth caps attest. As recently as the eighties drivers’ feet were placed ahead of the front axle line to minimise wheelbase.

Back then HANS was a rather corny German comedian while halos were sported by angelic choirs. Supermarket product fire extinguishers were deemed sufficient to take on even the biggest blazes. Too many drivers perished after fire-fighting equipment proved defective or ill-trained marshals, oft dressed in casual clothes or raincoats, were unable to fight the flames.

While a modicum of progress was made in the wake of Jackie Stewart’s campaigns of the seventies, safety was a hard sell until 1994. The deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna on consecutive days at Imola changed F1 forever.

Suddenly motor racing faced an existential crisis, with governments threatening to ban the sport on their soil. Manufacturers no longer wished to be linked with motorsport and its inherent risks. Teams and suppliers feared litigation of the type Senna’s Williams team endured for 11 years before team members were acquitted.

Jackie Stewart, March, 1970
At Stewart’s urging, F1 safety moved out of the dark ages
Television broadcasters threatened to cancel contracts lest they offend viewers – Senna’s death was reckoned to be the most public in history, even if the driver officially passed away in hospital – while sponsors sought exit clauses lest their goods and services were tainted by association with this lethal pastime. Fatalities in other high-profile series such as IndyCar, endurance racing and rally further ratcheted up the pressures.

While it would be disingenuous to suggest that the FIA as the sport’s regulator had previously been cavalier in its approach to safety, the fact is that safety research was and is horrifically expensive. The sport was then effectively run by well-meaning blazers and largely funded by memberships so there was no way the FIA had the funding required for comprehensive safety research. Plus, a sort of ‘WWII mentality’ towards death lingered, particularly among the sport’s older followers.

However, explosions in TV ratings across the globe and the (contentious) sales of the commercial rights to all FIA championships at the turn of this century provided the governing body with funding to undertake safety research.

The first major project was wheel tethers (1998) followed by HANS (2003) and visor panels – the latter in the wake of Felipe Massa’s 2009 crash at the Hungaroring, when the Ferrari driver was hit by a wayward spring. The halo, introduced in 2018, is the most recent visible safety innovation. However, cars and circuits incorporate other low-key or unseen innovations that raised standards to levels undreamed of in Stewart’s day.

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By its nature, motorsport will never be 100% safe. But that is the FIA’s ultimate target. Until the end of 2017 safety studies were largely funded by the FIA Foundation and FIA Institute – established via the commercial rights sale – but thereafter the governing body under president Jean Todt launched the FIA Innovation Fund (FIF) using proceeds from the sale of 1% shareholding in the commercial rights holder.

Felipe Massa, Hungaroring, 2009
Massa’s 2009 crash led to stronger crash helmets
From an initial grant of €45m provided by Todt’s administration, FIF now holds €63m in reserve and has funded 25 projects worth over €20m, with motorsport safety and allied activities accounting for a quarter (by value) of approved projects to date. Such contributions complement the ongoing funding from the FIA Foundation and the governing body itself.

The FIA’s Safety Department is led by its director, experienced motorsport engineer Adam Baker, formerly head of track and test at BMW Motorsport. He reports directly to Peter Bayer, FIA secretary-general for sport, with a recent appointment being that of Tim Malyon, an ex-Sauber and -Red Bull engineer with experience in Formula E and DTM now responsible for safety research.

In addition to this wealth of in-house expertise, the Safety Department regularly consults with industry working groups, accident specialists and bodies such as the Grand Prix Drivers Association, and monitors and analyses all fatal and serious accidents in global motorsport via the FIA’s World Accident Database. It also works closely with the recently founded FIA Industry Working Group.

The Industry Working Group, managed by the FIA Safety Department and reporting to the FIA Safety Commission, comprises over 50 members drawn from helmet and racing apparel manufacturers, circuit safety specialists, fuel system and electronics suppliers, applied technology companies, motor and allied manufacturers, and the Cranfield Impact Centre, an off-shoot of the university of the same name.

FIA protocols demands that National Sporting Authorities (ASNs) report all fatal accidents in their respective regions, whether these occurred in FIA-governed world championship events or at national or grassroots levels, in turn providing the Safety Department with a broad database.

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Circuit de Catalunya, 2016
The Halo underwent extensive testing
Findings are reviewed by the FIA Serious Accident Study Group – chaired by Todt and comprising heads of all FIA sporting commissions and FIA sporting/technical departments – on a regular basis. Once approved, the appropriate commission president(s) – i.e. F1, Single Seater, WRC, WEC etc – commit to implementing the findings and corrective measures in their respective championships, usually via amendments to regulatory clauses.

“The aim of this Group is eventually to reduce the risk of accidents,” says FIA Medical Commission president and SASG deputy president Gerard Saillant, “and when an accident does occur, to reduce the physical consequences for the people concerned.”

The SASG works in conjunction with the FIA Research Working Group, which evaluates safety measures to complement the work of the Safety Commission – led by former Williams technical director Sir Patrick Head – which tables recommendations to the World Motor Sport Council, the FIA’s apex regulatory body.

Saillant stresses that the role of the Safety Commission is a regulatory one, being, “The last step before the World Motorsport Council. The SASG is more ‘on the ground’, plus works in liaison with various research groups within the FIA.”

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Following a meeting in March, the SASG recently published the findings of 28 serious and fatal accidents that occurred in circuit racing during 2019 as reported by ASN in each country. Although we requested a list of accidents, FIA policy is not to release individual details due to certain sensitivities. However, it is clear from recommendations that followed in May this year that the research and analysis into each set of circumstances had been diligent.

Anthoine Hubert, Arden, Spa, 2019
Hubert was killed in a crash in last year’s Spa F2 feature race
While not specifically mentioned in SASG recommendations, it is obvious the F2 accident a year ago this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, which claimed the life of Anthoine Hubert and left Juan Manuel Correa with serious leg injuries, was studied. As reported here, the FIA found no individual driver was responsible – although a deflating tyre [thought to have been punctured by debris from an earlier incident] on another car triggered the accident – formed part of the study. Alex Peroni’s aerobatic F3 crash at Monza a week later, in which he suffered back injuries, is another likely candidate for this analysis.

The FIA studies cover all categories ranging from karting through closed cockpit series such as touring cars and rallycross to closed road events such as rally and cross-country and all single seater formulae. The recommendations which apply to the latter are detailed below. The FIA has not indicated which measures have arisen from which incidents; equally, there are no implied suggestions that specific accidents resulted in certain of the measures.

The FIA recommendations include the following for single seater cars:

Debris containment: Mitigate and/or prevent debris from cars during accidents via tethering and design solutions.

Passive safety structure and survival cell: A review of front and side impact structures with respect to energy absorption, directional performance and compatibility with car-to-car impact. This process is underway for Formula 1/4/E, with solutions for Formula 2/3 incorporated into the next car updates.

Front wing design and attachment: A review of design and wing-to-nose attachment systems to mitigate loss of assemblies. Establish whether future cars could incorporate wing designs with ‘controlled failure’ points.

Headrest design – Iterate design and specifications to increase robustness of retention and increase probability that headrest remains in situ during impact.

Front anti-intrusion panel – After success with retrofit upgrades to current cars, latest specification of panels to incorporated into next generation cars.

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The following are also under consideration for all categories:

Electronic safety systems: Reduce notification that drivers approaching the scene of an incident, with two steps proposed: initial step to improve driver notification, and deployment of advanced marshalling systems, incorporating automated yellow flag generation, direct car-to-car notification co-ordinated power reduction.

A moment of silence on the grid for Anthoine Hubert, Spa, 2019
Tributes were paid to Hubert before last year’s Belgian Grand Prix
Tyre pressure monitoring systems: Already in use in senior series, to be deployed in additional categories.

Other potential operational changes being examined include:

Race neutralisation: Development of an in-car marshalling systems able to be installed and removed from cars during events.

Low-angle barrier impact: FIA safety barrier standard to provide for impact angles of between zero and 20 degree.

“As with all accident investigation work, our findings related to circuit racing form the basis of a range of technical and operational initiatives, both to prevent serious accidents occurring and to mitigate the consequences if they do.” Baker said.

Clearly not all recommendations can be incorporated immediately, and here ‘next regulation change’ philosophies have been adopted. However, Baker emphasises that 98% of fatal accidents in contemporary motorsport occur at amateur level, with the most commonly identified contributory factors pointing to a need for improved marshalling training and race neutralisation (circuit racing). These are human elements.

Jean Todt, 2020
Todt vowed not to relent in his pursuit of safer motorsport
Clearly motorsport safety has progressed in leaps and bounds since Stewart’s crusading days, with reporting, analysis and simulation providing the cornerstones of what will always be work in progress, a never-ending quest that could not exist without a safety-first culture at all levels, and, crucially, generous funding from the sale of the FIA’s commercial rights to various championships – with F1 being by far the largest benefactor.

Todt, who presides over a portfolio comprising motorsport on one hand and mobility (road transportation) on the other, believes fervently that motorsport safety and road safety are symbiotically interlinked in that lessons learned from one discipline can (and should) be applied to the other, and vice versa.

“For me,” he told RaceFans in an exclusive interview earlier this year, “if we can make it safer, circuits safer, motor racing safer, there is no [let-up] on this side. It will never be enough. Maybe the difference, we must optimise more [in] motor racing, not only on safety but on technology as well, to have some [relevance] on mobility. On road safety, road cars, whatever.

“I don’t think now even manufacturers can afford to move into motor racing if it is not linked with other consequences,” added Todt, the UN Special Envoy for Road Safety.

Although the FIA’s focus will always be on motorsport’s premier categories, it is clear from the depth and breadth of research undertaken by the FIA Safety Department that the governing body leaves no stone unturned in its unrelenting mission for zero fatalities in all categories of what is by definition an extremely dangerous activity. It is, though, immeasurably safer than in Stewart’s day and destined to be even safer in future.

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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...

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52 comments on “How F1’s pursuit of safer racing is progressing 12 months since the tragedy of Spa”

  1. While safety is ofc paramount, I hope it doesn’t continue to come at a cost to the spectacle/DNA of racing. Weight increases, restrictive track design, closed cockpit etc.

    1. Well is safety paramount, or the spectacle? Can’t really have both. It’s a trade-off and at the end of the day it’s up to the regulating body to decide that. Sure the drivers might be keen for a faster series at the cost of safety as some have openly commented on, but what governments will allow it? The FIA as a global organisation has the political ties to tread this line.

      1. The Isle of Man has got no problem with racers killing themselves on a yearly basis.

        Dakar rally keeps on going with multiple casualties a year.

        Luckily, those legendary events are still in existence.

        1. I think there’s a fundamental difference between time trials and circuit races, regardless I think that misses the crux of the issue. You’re right in a sense, people should have the right to die however they choose, and if that’s in the pursuit of their passion for speed, then so be it. But to rate the most “legendary” racing series by how many fatalities there are? There’s something I think deeply wrong with that, but I also think there’s something deeply wrong with being entertained by death in general, yet some are. Hence we don’t have colloseums and the idea of cars being used as weapons for sport is limited to the realm of science fiction like the movies Death Race.

          It’s more philosophical than having anything to do with F1 at that point, I think. People can still die, and the FIA are doing the best they can to prevent that. If it means the cars are a bit heavier due to that protection, or they have to have a bit of extra run off, then obviously that is what they will do.

          1. It’s because people die that an event is legendary. Strange that you draw that conclusion.

            They are legendary because people are being pushed to an extreme limit, that that limit happens to coincide with potential death, is a correlation of skill.

            The more skillful athletes are, the more extreme the limit becomes, the closer you edge to the point of deadly accidents.

            Nobody talks about a guy walking a slack line 30 cms of the floor in his backyard, a guy walking a slack line between two Skyscrapers is frontpage news.

            At a certain point the safety aspect starts to take away from the skill aspect.

          2. On the Marbles
            27th August 2020, 14:08

            “that that limit happens to coincide with potential death, is a correlation of skill”
            Is this some new definition of the word “correlation”?

        2. IoM is a minuscule independent territory whose biggest annual event – read money spinner – is the TT. I fear the odd life lost is measured against that metric.

          Dakar has moved not only countries but whole continents after local governments refused to support the event. Ask yourself why.

          1. @Dieter:

            Oh, I was always of the understanding that Dakar moved because North Western Africa had become to dangerous to travel through with such a big event, due to regional conflicts and terrorist attacks on French nationalists in Mauritania.

            Dakar not being organised in Africa because of lack of support is news to me.

  2. Bravo. Unfortunately racing can be a horrible business, there can always be a freak accident, we are only human after all. It’s easy to applaud the work being done to make it less so.

  3. @dieterrencken, thank you for the excellent article.

    Please explain what you mean by a

    ‘WWII mentality’ towards death

    .

    1. @shimks just that lives weren’t valued as highly as they are today. That people can and do die when doing dangerous things, today we have less of that attitude, even in war, battles in WWII came with an expected casualty rate.

      1. Yes, that makes sense. Thank you, @bernasaurus.

    2. Back in the ’50s no one was thinking about safety. It was believed that motorsport is dangerous and people happen to die, but that is that. As WWII was recent people were desensitized about that. I remember Graeme Hill saying that “you’re spraying champaigne on Sunday, go to a funeral on Tuesday, and then go racing next weekend”, and it was considered part of life. It’s good that things have changed, too many good and young people perished for stupid reasons and preventable accidents.

  4. Seeing as safety is the topic, are the FIA not going to have any comment or discussion on Leclerc driving for 2 laps without his seatbelt on in the last gp? From a sporting perspective I have no desire to see Leclerc punished – I want to see him in the thick of the action and scoring good points if he can, but this seemed like a particularly egregious breach of safety regulations.

    Surely wearing your seatbelt is one of the most basic necessary safety precautions for any driver. We can’t drive around a car park at 5mph without wearing one, so driving round a circuit at racing speeds seems unbelievably reckless and irresponsible. Surely some kind of penalty, reprimand, or at least statement from the FIA is warranted just to reaffirm that this is obviously not acceptable in any circumstances.

    1. @keithedin Indeed weird that there hasn’t been any word on that from FIA’s side at any point during this interval between the last and the next race.

    2. Coventry Climax
      26th August 2020, 14:28

      And it appears Correa wasn’t contacted at all, ever since the accident. Hopefully I’m misinformed, but if not, they didn’t ask about his wellbeing, nor investigated the way he sees things and what he feels caused it all. Can you imagine having a serious road accident and the police not asking you what happened? In certain countries, maybe, but that means the FIA behaves exactly like the police in those ‘certain countries’. Creepy.

    3. The only information I’ve seen about no-seatbeltgate is this radio conversation

      https://www.racefans.net/2020/08/16/leclerc-drove-two-laps-with-seat-belts-off-after-engine-glitch/

      The FIA have both this and the lap times LeClerc was doing, with implications about whether he was racing or simply trying to check a fault at reduced speed. The fact that they’ve not pursued the matter suggests he wasn’t driving anywhere near fast enough to have any kind of accident.

      Common sense over a nanny-state penalty?

      1. Common sense over a nanny-state penalty?

        I don’t think so. I used to race Formula Ford and if my belts had come undone I would have stopped immediately; in the event of a frontal impact without the belts attached you can submarine forward and impact the forward roll structure and front bulkhead, etc. When properly strapped in you can’t move; without the belts…….

      2. @frasier He had his issue on lap 36. The final lap recorded was lap 38 where he did a 1:27.5 – which was about 2.5 seconds off his previous race pace. If that includes him coming into the pits on that lap, then it was pretty much at full race pace, and even if not, it’s still bloody fast. Even if he was driving well within his limits it wouldn’t excuse him because there were still other drivers going at race pace and even a minor incident could have had serious consequences. His car had also shutdown once without any warning, putting him into a spin – what if after he restarted, that had happened again at the highest speed corner on the circuit?

        I don’t believe this is a ‘nanny-state’ issue. I think issues like this need to be taken seriously especially since this information is in the public domain, and race drivers should be held to high standards of safety to set an example for the many fans watching.

        1. @keithedin where did you get the lap times from Keith? Obviously they influence mindset of the stewards.

          1. @frasier Just googled it, and it of course gave me the best F1 resource on the net… :)

            https://www.racefans.net/2020/08/16/2020-spanish-grand-prix-interactive-data-lap-charts-times-and-tyres/

            I just read the times from the chart since there is no table of laptimes. If you have a paid subscription maybe you can get the full lap time data on formula1.com or something. But part of my point is that I don’t think the stewards even had this referred to them to look at, so no decision has been made about it. It hasn’t been addressed at all, and that’s my main issue.

          2. Thanks Keith, location a bit of a duh! On lap he spun he lost 50.137sec to LH, then 10.327secs, and 5.023secs on his last timed lap. This was by just looking at his and LH relative race times on the chart headed ‘2020 Spanish Grand Prix race chart’

            Not exactly racing speed, but I take your point about needing a comment from stewards as to why they didn’t do anything.

    4. On the Marbles
      27th August 2020, 14:23

      Maybe a journalist might like to raise this issue at Spa? Does he think it was ‘safe’ do it, do the team think it was ok to do it? what is F1 and FIA’s opinion? and have/will they investigate? and if not, why not?

      Is it possible nobody has complained/protested to them so they haven’t bothered?

      If it had been the end of the race with everyone slowed down then maybe it wouldn’t be such an issue, but even then it’s not like he’d just loosened them, he released them! but with others going full tilt there was a real risk of being shunted and LC becoming a mini projectile.

  5. A review of front and side impact structures with respect to energy absorption, directional performance and compatibility with car-to-car impact.

    This is the biggie isn’t it. It’s almost been ignored up to now I think, it’s all been about barrier impacts and debris. The nose has to be raised to line up with the rear crash structure, which needs to extend sideways not be a blunt pole, and the front wing has to protect the front wheel from engaging with the tyre of another car and flipping the car. At least!

  6. I did not realize that FIA had such a maze of safety departments, institutes, funds, commissions, working groups, etc…

    1. One can only hope they are not being too inefficient with them all.

  7. Coventry Climax
    26th August 2020, 14:16

    Thanks for the article; good job. At the same time however, it should have been superfluous. What I mean to say is that there is a certain ‘FIA advertisement-feel’ to the article and we all should have known about what the FIA exactly does all along. So, in a sense, it’s a pity that such an article is needed to make clear what the FIA is doing.
    So, in my opinion, the FIA should not only be completely transparent (though I understand the sensitivities around deaths) but also actively communicating on what it is they are working on and what it is they have actually achieved. As it is however, the FIA presents itself as (and behaves as) a mysterious, secretive group of people, Todt himself leading the pack. I mean, unless someone blows the whistle on some secretive deal they’ve struck, you hardly ever hear anything from Todt and/or the FIA at all. As you might have guessed, I’m not a big fan of the FIA. I even feel that with Todt, we’re back to the Balestre days. Read my comment in the light of that, if you will.

    1. As it is however, the FIA presents itself as (and behaves as) a mysterious, secretive group of people, Todt himself leading the pack. I mean, unless someone blows the whistle on some secretive deal they’ve struck, you hardly ever hear anything from Todt and/or the FIA at all.

      I just think you’re not paying attention… The FIA is very active publicly with its initiatives.

      1. Jose Lopes da Silva
        26th August 2020, 14:42

        Does Todt have a Twitter account? Does he spend his day insulting high-profile people? If not, FIA’s initiatives can’t be very public, as they’ll be ignored. If he isn’t draining the Paris swamp, what is he doing out there?

      2. Coventry Climax
        26th August 2020, 14:48

        OK, @Tristan, that may very well be, and I’ll try and find more on them – although that is exactly in line with what I’m saying; me looking out for them, instead of the other way round.
        And apparently the entire motorsports journalist population isn’t impressed either (with the above article the exception); I do visit quite a lot of sites – even more than average I would say, being an automotive engineer – but there’s never very much on FIA activities.
        Sure, any frolic of any driver is far more interesting than an FIA-story. Although again, that might prove my way of looking at it.

        1. I appreciate your level headed reply :) Maybe I’m just secluded (and fortunate) by getting most of my F1/motorsport news here but I feel Dieter does an incredible at presenting what is most important to F1, including things as banal as the FIA conferences. It definitely helps to get a feel of the bigger picture.

        2. Jose Lopes da Silva
          26th August 2020, 17:31

          Google News presented me a Formula 1 news today, saying that Xuxa revealed details about her first romantic encounter with Ayrton Senna.

          1. Coventry Climax
            27th August 2020, 1:31

            You sure you’re at the right place? ;-)

          2. That definitely sounds like Google on my phone, though it tends to be linked to Verstappen j(being Dutch I guess) or football, and recently some cyclists too

        3. Jose Lopes da Silva
          27th August 2020, 6:46

          I’m sure Google knows too much and too little about me :-P

      3. @skipgamer, the FIA is definitely not open enough. The most obvious indication of this in my opinion is that crash reports are not public apart from small summaries. That is in contrast with the Aviation industry for instance where every incident report is public with the expectation that everyone in the industry (and even outside) can learn from them and apply their recommendations.

        I guess the FIA feels that given its level of control over motorsport, it can apply any learnings by itself or share them only to whomever it feels necessary on a need-to-know basis but for me it just points to controlling and secrecy mentality.

    2. I think it’s been a complete shock to Ferrari how their ex is NOT behaving like Ballestre! Or Mosley. Jean Todt may have been a bit secret about it, but he has totally nuked them after all.

      1. Coventry Climax
        26th August 2020, 15:07

        @Zann: Balestre never worked for Ferrari. Maybe he favoured them, but that’s not what I meant. To say the least, Balestre was an obscure figure – read the wikipedia page on him please, and you’ll know what I meant.
        The only thing in Balestre’s favour is that he introduced the crash test to F1.

        1. Balestre was unaccountable and corrupt, is my point really. I didn’t mean he was pro Ferrari especially, I was just pointing out that so far Jean Todt has been relatively more impartial than Ferrari were probably hoping! They’d never have built their whole engine programme around the meter-foiling and all that, if they’d reckoned on their ex-TP being quite so dutiful!

          So yes although it is a pity the Ferrari ‘analysis’ and deal was kept secret, the TD’s did completely nuke JT’s old team and so that is more honest than Balestre and certainly Max Mosley (who triggered the whole spygate with refusing to investigate Ferrari’s bendy floor)

          1. Coventry Climax
            27th August 2020, 1:28

            @Zann: OK, clear, and you’re probably right. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re on opposite sides of the scale though. I still don’t really like the man, and that’s putting it very politely.

  8. I just hope that the quest for ultimate safety isn’t going to the turn the few remaining good race tracks into different versions of Paul Richard. Nor do I hope that the cars become even larger than they are now.

    1. Coventry Climax
      27th August 2020, 1:41

      Already read someone commenting on how to change the layout of eau rouge/raidillon, the near holy corner combination, just to make it safer.
      I for one hope he/she’s alone in this, and stays alone. If tracks are made unchallenging for safety reasons, what’s the point in racing? I don’t watch dragstrip racing now, and I won’t watch it then.

  9. If there is something this pandemic has taught us, it is that E-Sports can be fun. It will never be the same as live racing, but I don’t think the risk factor is what makes most fans prefer the live action to the electronic format. In my case at least, I enjoy the mechanics that go into racing and, frankly, seeing fast cars, but I never enjoyed seeing drivers exposed to serious risks. I am trying to make a point, which is that the risk of death or serious harm is not necessary to racing’s qualities, just as we don’t watch football in the hopes one of the players breaks a leg or a fight breaks out on the pitch. I applaud FIA’s continued search for more safety and, if future safety measures mean less speed, well… racing will stay find a way to be fun and exciting to fans.

    1. Jose Lopes da Silva
      26th August 2020, 17:36

      Let me salute your comment. People might say you’re a “urban-depressive”, “snowflake”, “distopyan Orwellian”, “post-modern”, whatever. It’s good to hear voices like yours.

  10. Coordinated power restriction is so easily done, yet years pass, and we don’t see even a hint of that.

    Also for some reason no one is focusing on poor driving standards. Life bans for recklessly dangerous incidents will immediately improve safety

  11. As Hubert crash showed us, cars safety is optimized to car against barrier crashes, and not car against car crashes.
    The Hubert type crashes is more frequent when cars are all packed together, either on race start or on Safety Car ending.
    The lack of overtaking makes track position very important, which makes drivers risk a bit more on this kind of situations.

    This means, that deploying the Safety Car at any moment during a race should be seen as something that involves risks, and should only be deployed when there is in fact a risk that is bigger than the risk of packing the cars together. For example, the Bottas retirement last year in Brazil, he left the car outside the trajectory and very close to an opening in the barrier, in 40 years of racing in Interlagos never no one had an accident there, the risk of removing the car with yellow flags or simply letting it there was very reduced. Deploying the Safety Car created a much riskier situation, causing a series of incidents, one of them could have been serious, the Vettel-Leclerc crash.

    1. If I’m not mistaken, this is precisely why the Virtual Safety car was introduced. Unfortunately it seems like they are still not able to make the right decision as to whether SC or VSC is needed some of the time.

  12. I bet that despite all the funds and talk, the next serious or near death incident will reveal a serious lack of forethought. One could even argue that race start into tight corner is itself a death trap as we have already seen with Alonso here at Spa, and still there are bouncy gravel trap exists to launch cars etc.

    Because as we’ve seen, F1 is really just reacting to things, not really sorting out things beforehand.

    1. Coventry Climax
      27th August 2020, 2:01

      @Balue: You’re right, and I’m certainly in favour of a more thorough and pro-active FIA. However: That’s a rather easy thing you predict, as that is almost always the case in life: Once it has happened, it seems so obvious and we wonder why we didn’t think of it before. To back yourself up, you come up with half an example: The case is right (tight first corner with 20 or so cars going into it) but what would you suggest -and forethink- to be the solution? There have been talks about having rolling starts before, instead of standing starts. Personally I’m glad that hasn’t happened, as I think starting is one of the driver skills that sets the accomplished apart from the less talented. I’m sure there’s more options.
      So, back to the question; what would be your solution?

      1. No tight corner right after start obviously.

        But I’m not the one who’s supposed to come up with solutions. FIA and others are.

  13. The FIA is failing to consider prevention of the most likely serious accidents, and is focussing on mitigating those less likely. It is obvious by now that the next preventable serious crash is most likely to occur in F1 qualifying due to the huge, ever increasing, difference in speed between cars on hot laps and on slow laps.
    This risk could be easily halved by following Indycar’s process of moving the timing line to before the pit entrance, thus removing the need for an in-lap. They could also create a rule for a maximum slow lap time.
    But instead they will just wait for the inevitable crash to happen and then think about doing something about it. The closest near miss was Gasly and Hartley in Baku 2018. So close to an aircraft crash. How many more do we need to see before something is done?

  14. You can make the cars as strong as you like, but a T-bone impact will always be a serious crash with terrible consequences. If we think of the Hubert crash, there are two things that could be done:

    1. Extend the run-off at the top of Raidillon, which will happen I believe by 2022 with the addition of a gravel trap (in preparation to host a MotoGP race). This will help prevent cars returning towards a live circuit.
    2. Improve the vision of avoiding drivers to avoid a T-bone collision should a car be stranded in a run off area or track. I’ve read some ideas on Reddit that a screen visible at Eau Rouge showing a camera at Raidillon might help drivers know in advance that an incident is ahead. There are other corners in F1 where such a method might help. Correa was clearly carrying far too much speed, which might have been avoided had he known better what lie ahead. This has happened at Spa for YEARS due to the unsighted nature at the top of Raidillon and the technology is out there to avoid it. FIA can even pay for the screens/cameras and move them from track to track.

    Once again, we can make the cars strong, protect the drivers, Halo, etc. but more work needs to be done to help reduce the chance of T-bone crashes at high speed.

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