Pierre Gasly closes out GP2 pre-season testing fastest

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DAMS driver Pierre Gasly has finished fastest on the final day of winter testing ahead of the start of the new GP2 season in Bahrain later this month.

Gasly has moved into GP2 from Formula Renault 3.5 for 2015, and is plotting an assault on the title in his debut season.

The Red Bull-backed youngster has enjoyed a strong winter testing programme, and rounded it out by posting the fastest time of the final test in Bahrain on Friday.

With a fastest time of 1:39.632, Gasly edged out last year’s runner-up Stoffel Vandoorne by just 0.014 seconds at the top of the timesheets, with Mitch Evans finishing a further 0.033 seconds back in third.

American driver Alexander Rossi and Ferrari junior Raffaele Marciello both finished within one-tenth of Gasly to round out the top five, suggesting that the fight for the championship is wide open heading to the first race of the year.

GP2 debutants Sergey Sirotkin, Nobuharu Matsushita, Nigel Melker and Jordan King also topped sessions across the three-day test in Bahrain, and will be hoping to carry this form into their first races later this month.

Once again, GP2 will act as the primary feeder series to Formula 1, supporting the championship for ten of its rounds and finishing on the same weekend in Abu Dhabi this November.

To see a complete classification from the final day of pre-season testing in Bahrain, click here.

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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