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Buemi quickest again in second Mexico City ePrix practice

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Sebastien Buemi set the pace once again in the second free practice session at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez ahead of Saturday’s Mexico City ePrix.

Formula E championship leader Buemi left his 200kW lap until late in the 30-minute session, but made full use of it by producing a lap of 1:03.341 to finish four-tenths of a second clear at the head of the field.

Jean-Eric Vergne and Sam Bird had both led early on for DS Virgin Racing, but the session was interrupted after 13 minutes when home favorite Salvador Duran suffered a possible software issue on his Aguri car, leaving him stranded on the track.

Once the Mexican had been recovered under a red flag, the session resumed with most of the drivers heading out to complete their 200kW laps, using all of the power permitted in practice.

ABT Schaeffler teammates Daniel Abt and Lucas di Grassi rose to first and second place respectively with their qualifying simulations, while ex-IndyCar driver Mike Conway slotted into third place for Venturi.

However, their times were not enough to keep Buemi at bay as he re-claimed P1 with three minutes remaining, doubling up after topping first practice earlier in the morning.

Renault e.dams teammate Nicolas Prost ended the session fourth behind di Grassi, while Conway held on to P5 ahead of NEXTEV TCR’s Oliver Turvey.

Jerome d’Ambrosio finished up in seventh place ahead of Stephane Sarrazin, while Vergne and defending champion Nelson Piquet Jr. completed the top ten.

Qualifying for the Mexico City ePrix takes place in less than one hour’s time ahead of the race at 5pm ET.

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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