GP2: Matsushita claims maiden victory in Hungary

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Nobuharu Matsushita claimed his maiden victory in the GP2 Series on Sunday by going lights-to-flag to win the sprint race in Hungary.

Starting from pole position, Matsushita controlled the race from the front to lead home ART Grand Prix teammate and championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne by 1.9 seconds.

Vandoorne made up for his difficult feature race on Saturday by jumping Raffaele Marciello for second place off the line, and was followed through by Sergey Sirotkin who remained on the Belgian’s tail for much of the race.

Tire management was a key concern for all of the drivers out on track, but Matsushita was able to keep his Pirellis in check and slowly eke out a lead over Vandoorne before crossing the line to claim his first win in GP2.

“The car was just amazing from the beginning until the end,” Matsushita said. “On Friday, I made a big mistake in qualifying. I had a flat stop so I couldn’t attack. That’s why I qualified P21.

“It was my worst qualifying result of the year. But yesterday, I made a great recovery and today I could start from P1.

“The car was just amazing. I made a good start and after that I only had to control everything until the end.”

The Honda-backed Japanese youngster only made his GP2 debut at the beginning of the season, but has proved to be a useful teammate to Vandoorne in his title bid.

Despite finishing second, Vandoorne extended his lead at the top of the drivers’ championship to 85 points as Alexander Rossi failed to score once again, dropping down to third in the standings behind Rio Haryanto.

Like F1, GP2 now embarks on its summer break, and will return in support of the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August.

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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