This month we are proud to recognise the 70th anniversary of MOTOR SPORT, first published in 1924 as The Brook/ands Gazette.
Such celebrations have not been our primary concern, however, given the cataclysmic events of the past few weeks: the deaths of two Formula One drivers, one of whom was amongst the outstanding motor sporting figures of the past 70 years; a third seriously injured; spectators hurt by flying debris; mechanics flattened by a loose wheel in the Imola pit lane . . It is hardly surprising that the world of motor racing and Formula One in particular, has been the focus of so much public attention of late.
Truly, the sport has been awakened from complacency borne of an excellent safety record in the recent past: prior to Roland Ratzenberger’s accident on April 30, nobody had perished in an Fl car since Elio de Angelis died testing his Brabham at Paul Ricard in 1986, and there hadn’t been a fatality during a GP weekend since 1982. Then, suddenly, within the space of 24 hours, motor racing is thrown into turmoil by the losses of Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna.
Small wonder that the FIA has responded with radical proposals for a new breed of F I racer, intended to combine the inherent chassis strength of the current generation with increased protection for drivers’ heads but reduced power and downforce. That the teams should have reacted with haste to produce counter-proposals is no less predictable. We feel sure that a compromise will be reached, but it needs to be achieved quickly, and with dignity. Now is not the time for political in-fighting. Now is the time for everybody governors, teams and drivers, who have already voted to assist with safety recommendations via the reformed GPDA to unite with a single objective: it may never be possible to eliminate totally all of the risks which are inherent to our sport, but the lessons of the past few weeks are proof enough that there is scope to reduce them considerably.
Please note that next month’s MOTOR SPORT, which includes a free British Grand Prix preview supplement, published in association with Goodyear, will be on sale from July 1