Facing the dangers of racing

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An evening spent in the company of David Piper and Richard Attwood reminded us just how far we have come in

Just when Formula 1 was returning from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, I hosted an event at Dick Lovett’s Ferrari dealership in Swindon. Surrounded by Ferrari race and road cars, I was joined by David Piper and Richard Attwood to talk through Ferrari’s luminous history in sports car racing.

As you can imagine, it was an insighfful evening, especially when we got onto how the drivers faced the dangers of competing in the 1960s. “The danger was always there,” Attwood said. “We didn’t do it for the glamour; I certainly didn’t. I found I was quite good at it and I thought it would beat working in an office or a garage. Some cars were safer than others, though. I think Ferrari made quite a solid car all the way through. But yes, if you thought too much about it you wouldn’t do it, and if you didn’t want to drive a particular car there were plenty of other drivers who would.

“It was just par for the course just one of those things. Yes, the 1960s was a dangerous era, probably the worst era, and we were lucky to survive. Although I can think of a couple of times when I might not have made it. You just hoped that it wouldn’t be you. When there was an accident you kept on racing and thanked God that it wasn’t you. That’s how it was.”

The Brazilian Grand Prix produced plenty of dents and scrapes, not least Romain Grosjean’s 9.8g crash. But not once did we have to worry whether a driver would survive. Different times indeed.

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