Sunday, 23 October 2011

A Sad Week for Motorsport

It has been a sad week to follow in motorsport, with the passing away of Dan Wheldon and now Marco Simoncelli in horrible accidents. They were both exciting, personable and greatly likable racers and will be sorely sorely missed. I hope the reaction to the accidents by the authorities is calm and meaningful, taking time to reflect on the lessons learnt, not ruining the sport, but implementing practical changes that improve safety. I read a comment many years ago from Stirling Moss comparing motor racing to tightrope walking (in that walking a tightrope wouldn't be exciting if it was done a few centimetres above the ground), and on one level I do agree, but I think motorsport should be always working to make the tightrope element NOT refer to injury or worse (and in todays enviroment letting it be so would be seen as disrespectful and a ridiculous attitude). It should be about losing time or places, losing rhythm, all about racing, what the fans have come to see, not the big accidents which I find (rightly) core motor sport fans detest. Of course as part of that core elements should persist - the cars should be very powerful, with more power than grip, and encourage variables to affect the car (for example tyre wear). None of these factors if impelmented correctly should make for fundamentally unsafe racing, neutering cars to make sure they don't possess these attributes is also in my opinion disrespectful to the sport, and of course leads us towards Stirlings 'tightrope off the ground' motorsport, which of course through being dull would threaten the future of motorsport in its own way. The rule makers have a constant challenge, avoiding this fate, while continually keeping a rein on the machines getting to the point where the tightrope goes beyond racing and threatens worse. I see that the new Indycar has 'bumpers' on the back wheels, although a purist, this is something I would have no problem with other single seater series looking at, as launching of cars appears to me to be happining more often in other open wheel series as well (with a large accident in Superleague last year coming to mind), and it is incrediably important to guard against as the consequences of a car launching can be severe, and if one got near the crowd, then the ramifications for motorsport would be potentially very high.

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