After losing title duel, it’s back to business for Nico Rosberg

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Two days after his World Championship hopes ended with an ERS system failure in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Mercedes man Nico Rosberg went to work once more.

The German driver, who still had his best Grand Prix season to date with five victories and 11 pole positions, pounded out a total of 114 laps today at the Yas Marina Circuit in the first of a two-day test session in the desert.

That number of laps was the most of any driver that hit the track today, and his best lap of 1 minute, 44.512 seconds was good enough to put him third on the board behind Williams’ Valtteri Bottas and Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

Afterwards, Rosberg admitted to reporters that he was initially frustrated about having to test so soon after his title loss to teammate Lewis Hamilton but ultimately got back to some semblance of normalcy.

“It has not easy to be back in the car after Sunday, but after about 20 laps I found my rhythm again and it was fun again,” Rosberg said. “We have so few tests in F1 nowadays that every day counts, so there was no point in not testing today even after the disappointment of Sunday.

“It was good because when we go to winter testing, the team has its own program to follow, so I cannot use the time for myself and for the things I need to learn.”

As far as the German is concerned, his 2015 campaign started today in Abu Dhabi as he was able to learn a bit about the new Pirelli tires – particularly, the medium and soft compounds.

But now, after a memorable year that saw him get married, win his home Grand Prix, and take the championship to the final race, it’s time for a rest.

Mercedes reserve Pascal Wehrlein will take over the W05 for the final day of the Abu Dhabi test.

“A lot happened to me this season, but I’m happy that after today my year is finally over and I´m now ready to go on vacations,” he said. “We had an amazing season but it’s always possible to improve the car and even myself as a driver.

“That’s the beauty of the sport and next year I’m going to be even stronger.”

New study surveys drivers’ opinions on crashes, concussions, more

James Black/IndyCar
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Auto racing safety has continued to improve through the decades, but the sport remains inherently dangerous, according to a new survey.

At the close of 2018, a new organization called Racing Safety United emerged with the intention of reducing drivers’ risk of being harmed.

RSU is made up of more than 30 members including former NASCAR Cup Series competitor Jerry Nadeau, two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Randy LaJoie, NHRA team owner Don Schumacher and motorsports journalist Dick Berggren.

One of RSU’s first initiatives was to determine what current drivers thought of racing safety. The organization developed a 14-question survey and promoted it on select motorsports websites and forums. 

Participants were given the opportunity to disclose their identity or remain anonymous, and those who provided contact information were entered to win a $500 prize (for anonymous participants, the prize funds would be donated to a motorsports charity). 

More than 140 individuals participated in the survey over the course of 12 months. Below are the results of the survey:

Driver status

The vast majority of survey participants (60%) were amateur racers, while 26% of the participants were classified as Semi-Pro/Professional racers. The remaining 14% consisted of other individuals involved in the sport such as team owners and crew chiefs. 

When asked how frequently they race, 58% of driver respondents averaged 10 or more times per year on track, while 42% averaged 10 times or less.

The top five tracks respondents said they raced most often: Road Atlanta (21 votes), Watkins Glen (17 votes), Virginia International Raceway (16 votes), Mid-Ohio (16 votes), and Road America (13 votes).

Vehicular damage, injuries common

Over a third of respondents said they had been injured while racing, and almost two-thirds sasid they had suffered severe vehicle damage while racing

Driver error was cited as the top cause of vehicle damage (42 mentions), followed by concrete walls (26 mentions), mechanical failures (24 mentions), and other drivers (19 mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for better driver training/coaching, energy absorbing walls, and more technical inspections.

Almost a quarter of drivers said they had experienced racing-related concussions, and nearly half the respondents said one or multiple concussions would affect their decision to race in the future. 

Drivers primarily influenced by peers 

Roughly half the drivers said they would consider adopting new safety equipment if influenced by another driver (51 total mentions) and/or if recommended by a sanctioning body (47 total mentions). The study concluded those results indicated a need for drivers to become safety advocates and educate other drivers and for sanctioning bodies to mandate safety equipment. 

Drivers concerned with concrete walls

Approximately three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said they believed certain race tracks were more dangerous than others. Nearly half the drivers surveyed believe that concrete walls were the primary cause of damage to drivers and vehicles. 

Drivers willing to help

Just more than three-quarters of the drivers surveyed said that they would be willing to join a safety alliance to advocate for safer tracks. Two-thirds of drivers said that they also would be willing to contribute to a motorsports safety fund.

Click here for the full results of RSU’s survey

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