Minardi dismayed by Monza’s uncertain F1 future

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Former Formula 1 team owner Gian Carlo Minardi has expressed his dismay at the uncertain future faced by one of the sport’s most iconic circuits: Monza.

Located on the outskirts of Milan, Monza has hosted all but one Italian Grand Prix since the formation of the F1 world championship in 1950, and welcomes Ferrari’s loyal ‘Tifosi’ fan club to the race in their thousands each year.

With the sport taking a more global approach to its scheduling, the race at Monza is at risk of being cancelled upon the expiration of its contract in 2016.

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone said last July that the race had been “disastrous for us from a commercial point of view”, paving the way for events such as the Qatar Grand Prix to take its place on the calendar.

A number of figures within F1 have spoken out against such a move, with Minardi – owner of the popular Minardi team that raced between 1985 and 2005 – becoming the latest to express his dismay following the demise of the German Grand Prix.

“We are talking about circuits that are part of a nation at the height of motor racing, not only in sport,” Minardi said, referring to Hockenheim and the Nurburgring in Germany.

“However, they will not have a grand prix. This should make us think.

“Formula 1 represents a real economic benefit for state assets. Precisely for this reason, Formula 1 must be treated like the World Swimming Championships, the Olympics or World Football Championships – events in which not only the Sports Federation but also the Government can intervene.

“Do not forget that Italy has the number one cultural heritage in the world, which is envied by all. Therefore, we should use Formula 1 as a magnet to attract tourists, including holiday packages, before and after grand prixs, with worldwide tour operators. Besides, we are talking about a city which is easily accessible by plane and high-speed trains.”

Minardi continued to wish Ivan Capelli, the man tasked with saving the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the best of luck in his challenge.

“I want to wish the President of Milan Automobile Club, Ivan Capelli, good luck for the start of negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone and our ACI President Sticchi Damiani, who cares about the existence of Italian Grand Prix and Monza’s security,” Minardi said.

“He will make every effort to find the right funds and agreements. Monza, along with Silverstone and Monte Carlo, is Formula 1.”

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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