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EPQ on the effect Senna's death had on safety


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#1 FrizzFace

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 16:51

I'm currently in the process of completing an EPQ (http://www.aqa.org.u...ect/the-aqa-epq) on the question "Did the death of Ayrton Senna impact on the safety of Formula One cars?"

In order to answer this question, I must do some primary research to collect answers to the question, and would therefore be grateful for any responses.

Any answers I receive may be quoted in my essay, but names/personal details will not be disclosed.

Thanks in advance

Jason



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#2 f1steveuk

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 17:10

Very simply, yes. I would think all accidents in Formula One (as you have been so specific have). I worked at Formula One Management, and part of my job was accident investigation (usually as part of camera placement projects, but not always). It would depend on if you want specific examples, e.g after Senna, the curve at Tamburello was changed and the wheel retention cables were made stronger. I seem to recall the construction methods of suspension members was either looked into or changed as well.



#3 Tim Murray

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 17:29

Engine size was reduced from 3.5 to 3 litres for 1995.

#4 Michael Ferner

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 17:41

I think the question is quite silly. (Almost) every fatal (and non-fatal) accident over the last 40 years (minimum) has induced changes to increase safety standards. Why single out the Senna accident? Actually, that's perfectly impossible, because there was another fatal F1 accident over the same weekend, and Senna's accident was almost a carbon copy of that, so wouldn't it be more correct to ascribe any new safety features to Ratzenberger's death?

#5 Tim Wilkinson

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 18:39

I think the question is quite silly. (Almost) every fatal (and non-fatal) accident over the last 40 years (minimum) has induced changes to increase safety standards. Why single out the Senna accident? Actually, that's perfectly impossible, because there was another fatal F1 accident over the same weekend, and Senna's accident was almost a carbon copy of that, so wouldn't it be more correct to ascribe any new safety features to Ratzenberger's death?

 

EPQ isn't meant as serious academic research.  It's intended as an "extra" research project at 16-18 years old in addition to A-level qualifications to show that candidates can tackle a question (of their choosing, but not covering any content they're covering in their other studies) to a set standard of analysis and evaluation, accumulating and assessing the value of research.  It contributes towards the points that some universities use as entry criteria.

 

Jason - have you considered changing your question to something more open, like "To what extent has Ayrton Senna's death been the main catalyst for improved safety in Formula One?".  That will allow you to address your original topic, and also bring in other events such as those Michael mentioned, also Verstappen's pitlane fire, contributory factors to the higher cockpit sides and this year's lower noses etc; a broader scope, and you can also score more highly through being able to assign importance to some events over others.  Perhaps part of your conclusion could be that Senna's death itself had no more impact within the sport than other deaths or incidents, but public perception places much more weight on it because of his stature.


Edited by Tim Wilkinson, 28 January 2014 - 18:42.


#6 Ray Bell

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 18:45

Perhaps a comparison with earlier times might also be relevant?

 

For instance, the deaths of so many drivers in the mid- and late-'60s didn't individually lead to change. Clark's death, for instance, de Beaufort's, Anderson's and even Rindt's. 

 

The mounting number of these deaths, however, could probably be said to have contributed to research and regulation aimed at reducing the toll.



#7 D-Type

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 19:24

Jason,

As background reading can I recommend The science of safety by David Tremayne, Haynes, 2,000, ISBN 1 85960 664 4.  This covers the whole spectrum of the development of safety awareness and safety-related regulations in motor racing since World War 2, particularly in Formula 1.  It will help you put Senna's fatal accident into perspective.

You may also need to visit the Motor Sport Memorial website where you can find more information on individual accidents.



#8 arttidesco

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 21:24

 

I'm currently in the process of completing an EPQ (http://www.aqa.org.u...ect/the-aqa-epq) on the question "Did the death of Ayrton Senna impact on the safety of Formula One cars?"

In order to answer this question, I must do some primary research to collect answers to the question, and would therefore be grateful for any responses.

Any answers I receive may be quoted in my essay, but names/personal details will not be disclosed.

Thanks in advance

Jason

 

 

From memory in the aftermath of that accident a raft of measures were were introduced to slow the cars down, which is of course not necessarily the same thing as making them safer. Included in this raft was reduced front wing end plate and rear diffuser dimensions to reduce down force, an attempt to reduce the power of the cars effected by mandating holes to be cut into the rear of the airbox  and the introduction of the 10mm wooden plank which was introduced to force the teams to raise their ride heights to avoid excessive wear of the plank which could lead to exclusion from the results.

 

IIRC the planks are still in use today to keep ride heights in check.

 

If you have any further questions do not hesitate to ask.

 

Good luck with the project :up:



#9 FrizzFace

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Posted 28 January 2014 - 21:32

EPQ isn't meant as serious academic research.  It's intended as an "extra" research project at 16-18 years old in addition to A-level qualifications to show that candidates can tackle a question (of their choosing, but not covering any content they're covering in their other studies) to a set standard of analysis and evaluation, accumulating and assessing the value of research.  It contributes towards the points that some universities use as entry criteria.

 

Jason - have you considered changing your question to something more open, like "To what extent has Ayrton Senna's death been the main catalyst for improved safety in Formula One?".  That will allow you to address your original topic, and also bring in other events such as those Michael mentioned, also Verstappen's pitlane fire, contributory factors to the higher cockpit sides and this year's lower noses etc; a broader scope, and you can also score more highly through being able to assign importance to some events over others.  Perhaps part of your conclusion could be that Senna's death itself had no more impact within the sport than other deaths or incidents, but public perception places much more weight on it because of his stature.

Thank you for your advice Tim, my original question was "To what extent did Ayrton Senna's death impact on the safety of Formula One cars?", but my supervisor told me that I should remove the 'to what extent' bit to make my question more analytical. I'm planning to include other factors to try and help explain my answer, so this additional info everyone is giving me is great!
I'll definitely check out that book D-Type, and the website you mentioned!
Thanks everyone for your answers, and good wishes, any further opinions would be great, and I hope you all don't mind if I quote some of your responses in my project!
Thanks again!



#10 john aston

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 07:40

There were some interesting issues following the death of Senna (not Ratzenberger because, sadly but inevitably , in the public eye he was a nobody ; he isn't to us I haste to add)  . I recall that the viewing figures actually increased following Imola- whether that was ghoulishness or simply the fact that Senna's death  raised F1 awareness to new levels I don't know. I hope it was the LATTER(oops edited).  There was also this ghastly feeling that whatever had prevented drivers being killed in the previous few years had been taken away. I think Lauda talked about God's hand being removed . There were almost echoes of 1968 with its ghastly catalogue of monthly deaths on the 7th.

 

This feverish atmosphere meant that the sport had to be SEEN to do something - whatever that was and no matter how little research had been done  . Echoes of 1986 and the banning overnight of Gp B rally cars following the carnage to drivers and spectators alike


Edited by john aston, 29 January 2014 - 12:44.


#11 E.B.

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 08:30

This feverish atmosphere meant that the sport had to be SEEN to do something - whatever that was and no matter how little research had been done


This is what led to the spate of ridiculous temporary chicanes that popped up later in the season on corners that had never been unsafe before, and were magically safe again in 1995.

Does the project's scope cover track changes and other safety measures or is it just about the cars?

#12 FrizzFace

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 08:34

This is what led to the spate of ridiculous temporary chicanes that popped up later in the season on corners that had never been unsafe before, and were magically safe again in 1995.

Does the project's scope cover track changes and other safety measures or is it just about the cars?

The one at Montreal springs to mind.
Because of the 5000 word limit, I restricted myself (on the advice of my supervisor) to just the cars so that I didn't exceed this.



#13 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 12:22

Paletti?

 

I should think that one would have made people think. Wasn't it the one that led to keeping the feet behind the front axle line?



#14 HiRich

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 13:55

Jason,

As background reading can I recommend The science of safety by David Tremayne, Haynes, 2,000, ISBN 1 85960 664 4.  This covers the whole spectrum of the development of safety awareness and safety-related regulations in motor racing since World War 2, particularly in Formula 1.  It will help you put Senna's fatal accident into perspective...

As well as this book (and perhaps easier to find on the cheap) get the late Professor Sid Watkins first book - "Life At The Limit". As well as covering the incident itself, it explains the fallout, and has a host of appendices with relevant facts and forms. As well as the 'politically driven changes" (very public revisions showing something was being done) and the practical developments (changes to car and track design) you will see that the , perhaps most importantly, there was a cultural change. Sid was basically given carte blanche by Bernie to do whatever it took. Analysis of all accidents was increased (as Steve at the top may be able to explain), and the sport as a whole became more pro-active in identifying risks and pushing safety improvements. Highlights would be:

- Frontal and side impact tests that are pretty astonishing

- Cockpit side protection foam

- Enforcement of the HANS device

- Removable seat assembly (preventing spinal injuries on extraction)

- Wheel tethers

- All cars are fitted with a high standard black box system for recording incidents.

- The FIA running their own lab tests (crash tests and the like) with actual chassis to establish firm data.

The point being that for the last 15-odd years, safety changes have been introduced because of 'science', not as a response to an accident. And those changes (many, such as the side impact tests getting repeatedly tougher, no noticed by the general public) are based on good, reliable data, not blind guesses. I would argue that that pro-active approach has put the sport far ahead of all of the high risk sports - rugby, skiing, NHL and NFL (despite their recent progress), with only Indycars in a similar league.



#15 FrizzFace

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 17:13

As well as this book (and perhaps easier to find on the cheap) get the late Professor Sid Watkins first book - "Life At The Limit". As well as covering the incident itself, it explains the fallout, and has a host of appendices with relevant facts and forms. As well as the 'politically driven changes" (very public revisions showing something was being done) and the practical developments (changes to car and track design) you will see that the , perhaps most importantly, there was a cultural change. Sid was basically given carte blanche by Bernie to do whatever it took. Analysis of all accidents was increased (as Steve at the top may be able to explain), and the sport as a whole became more pro-active in identifying risks and pushing safety improvements. Highlights would be:

- Frontal and side impact tests that are pretty astonishing

- Cockpit side protection foam

- Enforcement of the HANS device

- Removable seat assembly (preventing spinal injuries on extraction)

- Wheel tethers

- All cars are fitted with a high standard black box system for recording incidents.

- The FIA running their own lab tests (crash tests and the like) with actual chassis to establish firm data.

The point being that for the last 15-odd years, safety changes have been introduced because of 'science', not as a response to an accident. And those changes (many, such as the side impact tests getting repeatedly tougher, no noticed by the general public) are based on good, reliable data, not blind guesses. I would argue that that pro-active approach has put the sport far ahead of all of the high risk sports - rugby, skiing, NHL and NFL (despite their recent progress), with only Indycars in a similar league.

Sounds really useful Rich, I think a trip to the library is in order for the weekend!
The Paletti crash was when the Ferrari stalled at the start at Montreal wasn't it Ray?



#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 29 January 2014 - 22:57

Yes, that's the one...

 

The poor man suffered enormous injuries because his feet were so far forward. As were everyone's those days.

 

Which makes me wonder where they put their feet and legs in these days with the raised noses on the cars!