There has been much written in the popular press about the death of English driver Dan Wheldon in an IndyCar event in the US. Whilst I feel for his young family, those involved in all forms of motor racing know that there is always a risk.
Three times F1 World Champion Jackie Stewart has added his halfpenny’s worth, but has also stated that F1 has a much better safety record than IndyCar. “It has now been 17 years, six months and something like 13 days since a driver lost his life in a Formula 1 car, whether it be in testing, qualifying or racing. Every time there is a fatality, there’s another wake-up call and one must recognize that motor racing is dangerous and you cannot, because of the long period without fatalities, expect that to go on forever.”
The safety cell in the modern F1 car is just amazing, and that is one area where F1 is claimed to be superior to the IndyCar tub. Once again Jackie Stewart spoke out saying, “But we have to recognize that Formula 1 has been one of the examples of how you can make motor racing safer and our risk management is probably unequaled in the world in business or sport.”
As Sir Stirling Moss once said, he could remember when motor racing was dangerous and sex was safe, however, that is for F1. Dan Wheldon’s death has shown that those safety features are not comprehensively used throughout all branches of the sport. The ironic side to the accident was that Wheldon had been helping IndyCar develop a safer tub which was to be used in 2012.