GP2: Sirotkin, Negrao confirm their plans for 2015

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Sergey Sirotkin and Andre Negrao have become the latest two drivers to confirm their participation in this year’s GP2 Series.

Sirotkin, 19, had been a part of Sauber’s junior programme in 2013 and 2014, with the team preparing him for a full F1 debut in a program that included a run-out in practice at last year’s Russian Grand Prix.

In 2014, the Russian youngster finished fifth in Formula Renault 3.5, winning his home race in Moscow. However, he has now decided to switch over to GP2 for 2015 with Rapax.

“I am delighted to have reached an agreement with Team Rapax for the upcoming GP2 Series season,” Sirotkin said. “First of all, I want to thank the team’s owners and executives for the push they made in order to have me on board. The 2015 season will be a crucial one for my career.

“I went through some lengthy considerations about what could be the best possible choice for my future. In post-season testing at Abu Dhabi I enjoyed an excellent chemistry with the GP2 car, as well as with the Rapax engineers and all the team.

“They are extremely focused and aggressive, and that’s something I really like. I cannot wait to be back on-track for testing in a few weeks. The 2015 series will be demanding, but also very interesting.”

Brazil’s Andre Negrao will remain with Arden International for the coming season, racing alongside Norman Nato.

“Last year we achieved our target of scoring points in the second half of the season,” Negrao said, having picked up 31 points in the final eight races of the year. “GP2 is an extremely competitive and professional Series, I had a very good feeling with the whole Arden team so we decided to continue to grow together for the 2015 season.

“I think that staying with the same group of extraordinary professionals – in particular with such a good relationship as the one we have – will pay off with good results. I really look forward to seeing the team in a few weeks and jump back into my car in Abu Dhabi.”

15 of the 26 seats have now been confirmed for the forthcoming season, which is shaping up to be one of the most competitive in years. McLaren junior Stoffel Vandoorne (ART) will head into the new year as the favorite for the title, but he is likely to face stiff opposition from Pierre Gasly (DAMS), Alex Lynn (DAMS) and Raffaele Marciello (Trident).

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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