Stewart: F1 calendar must retain historic races

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Three-time Formula 1 world champion Sir Jackie Stewart has called on the sport to remember its roots and ensure that its most historic races remain on the calendar.

For the first time in 60 years, there will be no grand prix in Germany this 2015 after neither the Nurburgring nor Hockenheim could come to an agreement to host a race with the sport’s commercial rights holder.

The Italian Grand Prix at Monza is also though to be at risk, whilst events such as the Grand Prix of Europe in Azerbaijan and the Qatar Grand Prix are slated to join the schedule in the next two years.

Speaking to the Associated Press, Stewart urged the powers that be in F1 to keep the history of the sport in mind and ensure that the core European races remain on the calendar.

“That sounds like me being a purist, but you have to respect history,” Stewart said. “They should always be on the calendar.

“It’s terrific we have a U.S. Grand Prix, a Brazilian Grand Prix, one in Bahrain, and that we are going to new countries.

“But you still have to respect your heritage.”

The ever-expanding F1 calendar has resulted in a decline in races being held in Europe over the past decade. Events such as the San Marino Grand Prix and the French Grand Prix have already fallen by the  wayside, and a number of other races are thought to be at risk of meeting a similar fate.

For 2015, there are only seven European races on the calendar (excluding Russia, which is treated as a flyaway). The Austrian Grand Prix could be at risk should Red Bull make good on its threat to quit F1, given that the brand funds the race, whilst the Italian Grand Prix at Monza is known to be coming under increasing pressure.

As sanction fees for hosts continue to swell and become only viable for rich nations that are able to use government aid to wipe away the losses made, F1’s global outlook and approach to scheduling will only persist.

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

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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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