Hamilton doubts Monza will be cut from F1 schedule

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Defending Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton doubts that the Autodromo Nazionale Monza will be cut from the sport due to its historic value.

Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix in all but one of the F1 world championship seasons, but is at risk of falling off the calendar due to financial uncertainty and an increasingly global outlook for the sport.

Most within F1 have condemned the possible loss of Monza, and Hamilton became the latest figure to lend his support to the Italian circuit when speaking over the Spanish Grand Prix weekend.

“Well there’s two sides to it,” Hamilton said. “You’ve got the actual circuit, which holds great historic value to the sport. Then you’ve got the fans, who ultimately make the weekend.

“You’ve got those few races through the year – Silverstone, Spanish Grand Prix, Italian Grand Prix, German Grand Prix – which to me are the foundation of the sport, particularly as you’ve got so many fans there.”

The Italian Grand Prix boasts one of the best atmospheres in F1 thanks to the loyal Ferrari fans – the ‘Tifosi’ – that make their way to the track each year.

“When you’re on the podium at the Italian Grand Prix, the whole straight is full of Ferrari fans,” Hamilton said. “You don’t get to see that in other places, so I think it’s important that we keep it.

“You lose the Italian Grand Prix, you lose all those fans. I can’t see it happening. I think ultimately it’s all politics and stuff which I’m sure will get sorted out.”

Monza’s contract expires following the 2016 edition of the race, and is set to retain its September slot for next season as per last month’s leaked calendar.

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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