Now, we should all know the young man in this image. His name is Jules Bianchi, and he currently lies in a coma in a French Hospital. His career was ended at a Japanese Grand Prix last year. Not since Ayrton Senna had a grand prix driver suffered an accident so horribly during a race. He hit a crane that was removing Adrian Sutil’s car from the gravel trap it was stranded in.
After that accident, the F1 world rallied once again towards safety, the largest push since the Sainted Professor Sid Watkins led his charge after seeing his friend Aryton die after a massive wreck. Now, some fellow F1 writers have been calling for F1 to return to a “Rebel Yell” of political incorrectness and danger.
I’ll tell you my thoughts on that after the jump.
I respect and really enjoy Will Buxton’s views on F1, and his philosophy on life in general. What I cannot do, however, is accept a few key sentences from his latest article, found here. In that article, he cites several ways he thinks F1 could improve the show, something most people fault the past two seasons for not having as much of. Never mind that we have had some of the most amazing wheel to wheel racing in F1 history the past two years. No, it needs more danger, faster cars, and less driver aids. I agree with most of what he says, minus the fact that my F1 squad now has far more females in it than males. And that sexism on the grid in the form of short skirted grid girls is in my view, unacceptable. But, in that article, Will says the following:
“Where has the danger gone and that beautiful line to be run between risk and reward? Motorsport should be as nerve wracking and exhilarating as the thought of a slug trying to negotiate his way down a razor blade. That’s the perfect lap. On the edge. Where one wrong move is game over. 500 yards of asphalt run off does not a hero create.”
Granted, he does go on to have a quote saying that it’s about adding grass and gravel back, not necessarily guard rails and the like, but still, this seems a tad backwards after the recent push following the Japanese Grand Prix last year. And I get that older fans might look down on today’s drivers, as the sport has gotten so much safer. But calling for the cigarette blazing, womanizing of the 70’s and 80’s doesn’t seem like the answer to me. I am all for making the cars faster, I am all for more fan access, the embrace of social media, and god forbid, a new man running the sport. If teams have the money, let them test as much as they want! If Michelin wants in, lets have a tire war, but the one thing I will not accept is any measure that would increase the risk to the drivers. Motorsport is inherently dangerous yes, but we aren’t out there losing 4 drivers a season anymore. Hell, until Jules, the last major injury was Felipe getting hit with a spring. And that helped new helmet standards advance.
We cannot let the sport regress. Each accident shows how far we have come, but still how far we need to go. In no universe would it be okay for us to start losing even one driver per season. These men are heroes. They are looked up to around the world. For fucks sake, it’s a car race, not gladiatorial combat. Earlier this season Kimi called for a tad more danger. What happened the very next race? He was almost hit in the head by a McLaren. Note how he hasn’t said anything else about it after that.
I asked a friends of mine if they had anything to say about the matter, as we are all Manor and Marussia fans, and just fans of the sport. And this is what one had to say.
Brittany Barr: “It’s been really concerning to hear big names–Lauda, specifically–push for more dangerous aspects of Formula 1. We’re coming up to the anniversary of Jules’ accident, and I want to see safety measures remain in place so that when there’s an accident, we know for a fact that driver will get out of the car and return home to their loved ones. Pushing for anything else is reckless.”
So we can’t stand for this as fans. Say yes to any other changes they want to make, but keep safety first. Noise, money, power units? All of that you can plug and play with, but the driver is the one part that we can’t risk, can’t replace, and can’t do without. Forza Jules.