Racing cars just isn't cool anymore. Or is that just old age?
I think that racing had to become safer for commercial reasons. Fatal accidents is bad business, especially if it gets huge and visual media exposure. Major sponsors don't want their billboard drivers to perish in crash-and-flame events, they want them to smile from the podium.
When you look back to the bad crashes of the 60s, they merely became headlines in the press, there was rarely if ever any TV coverage, and the crashes were seldom caught on film. Sponsors were few and there wasn't any negative commercial side effects of the crashes. In the 70s, there were many sponsors, but it was still small-scale compared to what it is today, and even in the 70s broadcasting wasn't common.
But today, racing is no longer about man and machine, it's a commercial enterprise with stakes held by major global corporations, groups and operators. There can be no blood. Cameras are everywhere, everything is broadcast to the four corners of the world. A crash would have a huge negative impact. Mind you, even Schumacher has appeared in TV commercials promoting some beauty product from L'Oreal, arguing that "I'm worth it," a soap opera move no real racer from the 50s, 60s or 70s would ever have consider doing. If it didn't smell oil or rubber, it was no good -- it wasn't about racing. And if you promote L'Oreal, you really can't run the risk that the smiling person in the ad lies slain on the track next weekend, because then your commercial can't be run on the network five times a day for the next half year -- your investment, having paid a trillion bucks to have a Ferrari-overalled chap with a slight German accent promoting your snake oil, would be wasted.
And today technical regulations are rewritten every year in the name of safety, and rewritten once more every time there is a bad enough accident. The only flames are over Schumacher running into everyone who has a chance of winning a championship, whether Hamilton should be DQ'ed for having passed Räikkönen in a chicane, and overtaking him again already on the next corner, thus not being passive enough for FIA's tastes. Of course, the stewards had to finish reading the sporting code first before a second overtaking "manoeuvre" could be considered "legal" (Come on! This is racing!) And the only thing crashing is the sponsors -- banks and other financial operators that are foolish enough to sink money into even blacker holes than that of racing.
Just about everything was different back then.