Marcus Ericsson makes official Sauber debut in Abu Dhabi test

Leave a comment

Marcus Ericsson had his first day on the job with Sauber today in Abu Dhabi.

Ericsson turned in a solid day of testing in the C33, logging a total of 95 laps and setting a fast lap of 1 minute, 46.253 seconds. That time was good for eighth among the 10 drivers that tested at Yas Marina Circuit.

After running the first 16 races of the 2014 season with Caterham, Ericsson is now preparing for a full-time drive in 2015 with the Hinwil squad – which recently completed its first-ever season without World Championship points.

The Swede was especially pleased to get as much track time as he did. His new team reports some “minor issues” were had today but that Ericsson was able to finish with some short runs.

“It was a great day,” he said. “I did a lot of laps which was the main thing, to get used to the car and get to start to work with the team. I am really happy with that.

“It was a good first day. We focused mainly on aero work for 2015 and also on tire comparisons. I think everyone is satisfied, and I am also happy about my first laps in the C33.”

Said test engineer Paul Russell: “It was a good day, although in the afternoon we had some technical issues, and in general there were many red flags but it did not affect our program massively. It was good to start working with Marcus, and it was important for him to drive the C33, start the process of working together and also to learn the car.

“We got quite a lot of aero work done today, and collected a lot of valuable data. Besides that, we also had a first look into the tires for the 2015 season. Overall, it was quite a mixed program. It was an interesting day.”

Ericsson is one of four drivers that will run both days of the ongoing Abu Dhabi test.

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

James Black/IndyCar
Leave a comment

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

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter