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Haas struggles in home F1 race, drops back in constructors’ standings

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Haas Formula 1 Team had a home race to forget as both Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen finished outside of the points in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix.

Haas ventured to the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas for its second home race since joining F1 at the start of the 2016 season hopeful of building on its double-points haul in Japan last time out.

Grosjean was Haas’ best hope of points, starting 11th, and ran as high as ninth before falling back through the closing stages as he struggled with worn tires.

“Not much pace in the car, and massive tire degradation on my front-left tire. I was trying to hang in there, but the last few laps I felt it was pretty dangerous,” Grosjean said.

“Off track the weekend’s been great with the fans. I’m very sorry we couldn’t put on a better show from the team. We’re all going to work hard. We know Mexico was tough on us last year but, hopefully, we find some solutions.

“We’re going to work hard, but right now it’s disappointing not to put on a better show at home.”

Magnussen started 17th after a tough qualifying and a grid penalty, only to suffer a further setback early on after contact with Pascal Wehrlein left his Haas car with a puncture on Lap 4.

Haas moved Magnussen onto an aggressive one-stop strategy, but he too struggled to keep life in his soft compound Pirellis, causing him to fall back into Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson’s clutches on-track.

The pair collided when scrapping for position, prompting Haas to bring Magnussen in and fit a set of super-softs to get to the end of the race, where he was the last classified finisher in P16.

“Not the best day for us, but the car was actually better from qualifying. We just had to pit at the first lap, so our tires – we tried to do the whole race on softs, but not quite possible,” Magnussen said.

“We had to try. It was the only thing we could try in that situation. So, onto the next one.”

Haas dropped down to eighth in the constructors’ championship on Sunday as Renault picked up six points through Carlos Sainz Jr. in P7, leaving the American team on the back foot with three races left this season.

The tough weekend on-track was balanced out by Haas’ further embrace – and the U.S. fans’ further appreciation – of the team in several events during the weekend.

A group photo of Haas fans with the team took place at the redubbed “Haas Hill” on the outside of Turns 18 and 19, and the Haas F1 Team also conducted its second annual full-team shot pre-race on Sunday morning. (All photos: Haas F1 Team).

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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