Sunday, 26 October 2014

Drivers 'are not bulletproof'

(© Ben Johnston 2014)

Three time Formula One world champion Sir Jackie Stewart believes that it is not just up to the FIA to improve safety in sport but the drivers need to take responsibility too. Three weeks ago during the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka which took place in appalling weather conditions the Marussia F1 Team's Jules Bianchi had a horrendous crash and as a result suffered a diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury.

The Frenchman remains in a critical but stable condition in hospital however his family will only release updates on his condition when they feel it is appropriate to do so.

Sir Jackie who raced in Formula One during the 1960's and early 70's was during his time as a driver in the sport an advocate of improved safety as he says himself when there wasn't a race on drivers were attending the funerals of their fallen colleagues who died while competing.

Stewart believes that drivers today are 'taking liberties'. Speaking to BBC 5 Live F1 he stated:

'Liberties are being taken today that frankly we could never have taken in years gone by. The accident of Bianchi may have brought a little bit of realisation to everyone that they are not bulletproof.'

Stewart's comments come after it was announced that former F1 team principal's Ross Brawn and Stefano Domencali along with former driver Alexander Wurz will form part of a safety panel tasked with carrying out a full investigation in what caused Bianchi's crash and recommendations on to stop something like this from happening again.

Stewart concluded by saying:

'Sadly - and it is a terrible thing to say - it will probably need a fatality to actually bring back to everybody's understanding what you cannot and should not be doing.'

The last driver fatality in Formula One as we all know was Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger at the San Marino circuit in 1994. However the last fatality at Grand Prix event was at the Canadian Grand Prix last year when a track marshal was killed by a recovery vehicle which was retrieving a car from the circuit following the race.

Formula One team personnel now wear high visibility fluorescent t-shirt's when carrying out the pit garage de-rig.

© Ben Johnston 2014 

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