This month we are proud to recognise the 70th anniversary of Motor Sport, first published in 1924 as The Brooklands Gazette.
Such celebrations have not been our primary concern, though, given the events of the past few weeks: the death of two Formula One drivers, one of whom was one of the outstanding sporting figures of the past 70 years: a third seriously injured; spectators hurt by debris; mechanics flattened by a wheel in the pitlane… It is hardly surprising that motor racing has been the focus of so much public attention.
Truly, the sport has been awakened from complacency borne of an excellent safety record: prior to Roland Ratzenberger’s accident, nobody had died in an F1 car since Elio de Angelis did so testing at Paul Ricard in 1986, and there had not been a fatality during a GP weekend since 1982. Then, within the space of 24 hours, racing is thrown into turmoil by the losses of Ratzenberger and Senna.
Small wonder that the FIA has responded with proposals for a new breed of F1 racer, to combine inherent chassis strength with increased protection for the drivers’ heads but reduced power and downforce. That the teams should have reacted with haste to produce counter-proposals is no less predictable. We are sure that a compromise will be reached, but it needs to be achieved quickly. Now is the time for everybody — governors, teams and drivers — to unite with a single objective.
It may never be possible to eliminate totally all of the risks which are inherent, but the lessons of recent weeks prove that there’s scope to cut them considerably. — SA