© GP2 Series

Giovinazzi doubles up in Baku after chaotic GP2 sprint race

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Antonio Giovinazzi became the first driver to win twice in a single GP2 race weekend since 2012 after scoring a dramatic victory in Baku on Sunday.

Giovinazzi started eighth by virtue of the reverse grid, but dropped to last in the early stages as McLaren junior Nobuharu Matushita moved into the lead.

The Japanese driver saw his advantage over Daniel de Jong in second place fade when the safety car was deployed following a shunt involving Jordan King and Jimmy Eriksson.

Matushita momentarily lost the lead on the restart to Oliver Rowland, only for the Briton to lock up and drop behind once again.

A second caution period was called after Philo Paz Armand went off, with Matsushita assuming control of the pack when the safety car peeled in.

Matsushita returned to racing speed before slamming on the brakes, forcing the rest of the pack behind to seek evasive action. The questionable tactic sparked a clash that forced Gustav Malja, Mitch Evans and Sean Galeal all to retire, while Rowland also got caught up in the incident.

Once the safety car had made a third appearance, Matsushita led the field away again, only to be taken out by Raffaele Marciello at the first corner in an act of karma that sparked applause from the drivers that had retired as a result of his actions.

Amid the chaos, Pierre Gasly had assumed the lead for Prema Powerteam, running ahead of teammate Giovinazzi who piled on the pressure heading into the final lap.

Gasly ran wide at Turn 1, handing the lead to Giovinazzi who was then able to hold the Frenchman back despite his DRS being broken and pick up his second GP2 win in as many days.

The last driver to do the double on a single weekend was Davide Valsecchi, who won twice in Bahrain in 2012 en route to winning the series title.

Gasly was left to settle for second place, meaning that his three-year win drought continues, while Sergey Sirotkin completed the podium for ART Grand Prix.

Jordan King recovered to finish fourth ahead of Artem Markelov, who rises to the top of the drivers’ standings. Sergio Canamasas finished the race sixth ahead of Nabil Jeffri and Arthur Pic, while Alex Lynn and Marvin Kirchhofer rounded out the top 10.

GP2 returns in two weeks’ time in support of the Austrian Grand Prix in Spielberg.

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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