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Horner: Liberty F1 takeover ‘could be a great thing’ for US market

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Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes that Liberty Media’s takeover of Formula 1 “could be a great thing” for the sport in the United States.

Following the Italian Grand Prix, Liberty Media Corporation confirmed it would be taking over F1 in an $8 billion deal, set to be completed in the spring of 2017.

New F1 chairman Chase Carey (pictured above) made his first appearance in the paddock in Singapore on Friday with CEO Bernie Ecclestone.

During Friday’s FIA press conference, a number of team principals including Horner were asked what impact they expected Liberty’s takeover to have on F1.

“I think with what we’ve heard so far it sounds very positive,” Horner said.

“They are obviously part of a very serious group and I can’t believe a company like Liberty would buy into Formula 1 at the value that it is rumored to have been purchased at without having a long-term game plan.

“Rather than having a venture capitalist or a financial institution buying into the sport, I think it’s far better for the start that a company like Liberty has bought in and hopefully that will address some of the areas we have been weak in previously.”

Being an American company, many are expecting Liberty’s arrival to result in an expansion of F1’s interests in the United States.

“I think hopefully for the US market it could be a great thing and some of the other platforms like the digital and social platforms could also be very interesting,” Horner said.

“So I think we’ll wait to hear what their plans are in detail but everything we have heard so far has been very positive.”

Haas F1 team principal Guenther Steiner echoed Horner’s thoughts on the US market, adding the American team would be happy to help Liberty’s efforts.

“Being an American company, I hope, as Christian said, there is big potential in the States,” Steiner said.

“So we being an American team we hope they bring that to fruition, that market, and that we can all have gains on it.

“We are more than happy to help them to do anything they need to do in the United States.”

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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