Formula E

Abt takes second FE pole in Mexico as Buemi, di Grassi struggle

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Daniel Abt swept to his second pole position in Formula E after edging out Oliver Turvey in the final Super Pole shootout ahead of the Mexico City ePrix on Saturday.

After spending much of his time in Formula E in the shadow of title-fighting teammate Lucas di Grassi, Abt led the ABT Scheaffler Audi Sport team to its second straight pole at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez as a number of title favorites struggled.

Following his red-eye flight from the WEC Prologue at Monza, Sebastien Buemi struggled in qualifying thanks to a dirty track that caused the early runners to lose grip. Buemi qualified 10th, leaving him with a fight on his hands to battle through to his fourth straight win.

Di Grassi was another to lose out in Q1, falling to a lowly 18th, leaving teammate Abt to take the limelight as he made the most of a cleaner track in Q2 to get through to Super Pole.

After seeing NextEV NIO’s Turvey go faster in the initial heats, Abt managed to put together a rapid lap of 1:02.711 to take provisional pole. Turvey did all he could, but was powerless to stop Abt from taking pole, falling 0.156 seconds short to finish second.

Jose Maria Lopez put in an impressive display for DS Virgin Racing to qualify third, matching his best effort from Hong Kong, while Venturi’s Maro Engel finished fourth. He will drop 10 places on the grid due to a penalty. Jean-Eric Vergne rounded out the top five for Techeetah.

The Mexico City ePrix kicks off at 5pm ET on Saturday.

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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