TURIN, Italy – Four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel believes that it is crucial to retain an element of danger in motorsport while moving to enhance safety standards.
The safety debate has become high of the agenda in F1 after trials of cockpit protection systems in the past four months, following the deaths of Jules Bianchi and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson from head injuries sustained while racing in 2015.
Speaking at the FIA Sport Conference in Turin, Vettel spoke of the importance of retaining an element of danger in racing.
“I think to some extent the ingredient danger makes it exciting,” Vettel said.
“Just coming from Baku last week, the circuit got a lot of criticism for being too dangerous. I disagree. I think the FIA and the people in Baku, the organizers had done a hell of a job fitting that race track in in a place where arguably is not made for racing, but it’s fantastic, there’s vey little room for error and I think that’s why racing is so exciting and what made it exciting in the past.
“The fact the cars have become a lot safer, it’s nice for us. Many years ago obviously drivers weren’t as lucky, the cars weren’t as safe as they are now. I think you need to find the right compromise.
“The ingredients for passion, for speed, for danger, for noise are very important. Equally we want to make the sport safer. We can’t shut our eyes if bad things happen. I think we need to react. I think we have in the past years and we still do now.”
Vettel believes that the danger of racing is a key part of its appeal to the public.
“It is [a difficult balance to find], but ultimately it might sound wrong initially, but the sport in some way has to remain dangerous so to say, because that’s what’s appealing to people,” Vettel said.
“If you lose that ingredient, people don’t sense anymore that it’s something out of their reach and out of their world and becomes less exciting.
“It has to be done the right way, which they’re trying very hard to do. Next year’s regulations should be a step up for at least us, the drivers, for us it’s always great, the faster we go.
“We’re not stepping back in any regard. It’s a step forward.”