June 20, 2015
The Flip Side of Great Car Safety.
There has been much talk lately about bringing back danger into Formula 1 specifically and racing in general.
The amazing advances in crash survivability, thanks to the FIA's strict standards extending through all its sanctioned open wheel formulas, have made crashing almost consequence free.
Obviously no sane person would advocate making cars less safe but the unintended consequence of eliminating Darwin, if you will, from the equation is that we are breeding generations of racers that think it's perfectly fine to behave like asshats while racing.
For your consideration, via WTF1, watch Frenchman Brandon Maisano push American Gustavo Menendez off the track in a recent Formula 3 race at Spa.
Melendez was unhurt but this is how things are going down in the minor formulas this year.
Here is Maisano's fellow Ferrari Academy pupil, Lance Stroll, pushing Antonio Giovanazzi onto the grass and getting the worst of it.
The same Giovanazzi tangled with American Santino Ferrucci last year at Spa.
In any case, you can search for more on YouTube but you get the gist: it's great nobody was hurt and we know all these kids are desperate to emerge from the pack but, is that the way to behave?
Recently, I was listening to an interview with Ivan Capelli on the excellent PitTalk podcast from F1Sport. Capelli and the hosts were reminiscing about the Portuguese GP of 1988 when he passed Senna for the lead of the race despite an underpowered March, his moment of glory.
Capelli and Senna raced karst together, Ivan said, and Ayrton was a tough racer but at least on that occasion was fair, recognized he was beat and gave him enough space.
There was a code among drivers back then he continued, in part because they had all grown, professionally, with the awareness of consequences.
The dilemma is: cars and tracks have been made safe, great because nobody want to see someone die in a motor race but how do you instill that code in teenagers without castrating racing with penalties for every minor contact, hoping to prevent the big ones?