Friday, 7 August 2009

Motor Racing is Dangerous

Motor Racing is Dangerous. That's what it says on the tickets. At least, it used to say that when as a boy I used to read the small print when my Father was driving us to the circuit.

I picked up some old memorabilia from England recently, and yesterday I was looking through the programme for the 1966 British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch.

Two things struck me:

Firstly, the drivers in those days look so much older than the current crop.

And secondly, at a quick estimate, I reckoned that about 40% of the drivers that took part in that race died in a racing car.

I checked and in no particular order, the unfortunate drivers were: Jim Clark, Jo Siffert, Jochen Rindt, Bob Anderson, Mike Spence, Jo Bonnier, Bruce McLaren, John Taylor and Lorenzo Bandini (didn't race due to a metalworker's strike in Italy, but was listed in the programme).

That's 45% of the grid as it turns out. Not counting Denny Hulme (who died in a race car, but of natural causes) or Graham Hill (plane crash returning from a race). Or Peter Arundell, who was struggling to make a comeback after a big accident in 1964 and never lived up to his talent.

So that's over half of the drivers on the grid losing their lives due to race-related incidents.

Quite incomprehensible.

We must continue to ensure that progress is made in the area of safety, such as further improvements to visor technology, as suggested by Luciano Burti. - see:

And it's also necessary to work more on securing wheels, which may mean making uprights or monocoques stronger, so that tragic accidents like Henry Surtees' can be avoided.

But immense progress has been made. Between 1950 and 1986, 76 F1 drivers lost their lives in accidents. Since 1986, three F1 drivers have suffered the same fate, Michele Alboreto being the most recent in 2001, when his Audi R8 suffered a tyre failure during testing.

That's still three deaths too many, but a clear sign of progress. Long may it continue.

F1 Trivia: that 1966 race was quite unusual, as all of the points scorers were Grand Prix winners. In fact, the first five finishers were all World Champions during their career.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Wednesday 5 August

It's Wednesday, and a few things have happened:
  • Best news of the day: Felipe allowed to go home to convalesce. Keep improving rapidly!
  • There'll be a GP in Canada in 2010. Good news, it's a great circuit and is in a continent that is totally neglected by F1.
  • Jean Todt has launched his manifesto, and it's probably good enough to win. I liked Joe Saward's piece on his blog about it.
  • People have gone on and on about whether Michael should be able to test the F60. For the record, my view is that no testing is a daft rule but there should be no exception. It won't make him any safer than if he tests a 2007 spec car - except at the start as he has no experience of using KERS. I guess Ferrari still have some straight line tests left, and if not it's their own fault - after all, they could put Gene in the car. There should be no performance benefits from doing the test, and that's precisely what they're after. Worth asking, but no point whingeing if someone says no.
  • Donington is still doing stuff to make people think they have a chance of hosting the Grand Prix in 2010. Maybe they do. So where can I buy tickets? OK; I guess we need an F1 calendar first, but they said they'd have the funding in place by the end of July 2009, and there hasn't been an announcement about that. Maybe I'm just a cynic - along with everyone else?

But what I'm sad about is what I haven't heard. What's happening with BMW Sauber? The deadline to sign Concorde expires today, which to me sounds like big news.

I know people that work at the team and I hope they keep their jobs. Peter Sauber is a good man, and deserves a decent chance at resurrecting Sauber from the phoenix-like ashes of BMW.

But I guess that's just my view. Surely there's a journalist out their that'll tell me? Maybe I just can't find the news.

I hope there's a way for them to keep in the sport, even if this year's car is a long way from the best of the grid. There's so much potential there.