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Italian Grand Prix set to remain at Monza for next three years

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The Italian Grand Prix is set to remain at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until 2019 following an announcement from Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone and the Automobile Club d’Italia on Friday.

Monza has hosted all but one Italian Grand Prix since the formation of the F1 world championship in 1950, but faced an uncertain future after negotiations over a new contract stalled.

Ecclestone stressed that he would hesitate to find an alternative venue for the race if an agreement could not be reached on hosting fees, leading to discussions with Imola, the former host of the San Marino Grand Prix.

In a press conference on Friday afternoon, Ecclestone and ACI president Angelo Sticchi Damiani confirmed that a deal had been agreed to keep the race at Monza, although it is yet to be signed off.

“Regretfully, legally we can’t sign it here, but more important is that we have an agreement thanks to our lawyers and we are getting all the small details sorted,” Ecclestone said.

“There is no problem in having the race here. The contract will be for three years but I hope we are here for 100 years.”

Damiani has long expressed a desire to keep the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, revealing back in June that a breakthrough in negotiations came around the Monaco weekend in May.

While Imola has enjoyed significant upgrades since it last hosted F1 back in 2006, Monza’s contract extension is likely to be very well received throughout the paddock given its history and high-speed nature.

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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