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Grosjean: Haas F1 still ‘growing up’, proving doubters wrong

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Romain Grosjean is happy to see the Haas Formula 1 team proving its doubters wrong after matching its debut season points total in just nine races of its sophomore campaign.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his F1 operation onto the grid in 2016, with Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut campaign.

Grosjean has been joined at the team by Kevin Magnussen for 2017, and the pair have already made progress by taking the same points total through the first nine races of the year.

For Grosjean, the advances made by the team for 2017 come largely down to experience as it matures, having only entered 30 races.

“We’re growing up. We’re definitely growing up and we’re learning a lot from the past races experiences,” Grosjean told NBCSN.

“There is a lot more that we need to learn in Formula 1, and it’s a very complex world. But I believe the team is doing very well for its second year.

“I’m hoping that we can get a bit more consistency and keeping top performance.”

Grosjean is pleased that Haas has been able to prove doubters wrong who predicted a second season slump, and even feels the American team could double its points total through the remainder of the year.

“A lot of people were thinking year two would be difficult for the team, but we’re actually much stronger in year two than in year one, and I’m very proud of that,” Grosjean said.

“I’m hoping that year three is going to be even stronger. There’s a lot more races to come. We’ve unlocked some potential in the car, we’ve had some bad luck, but we still have scored a lot of points.

“I think we can double up easily from last year.”

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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