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All things re: F1 safety.


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#1 Jayzi

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 15:21

Hi all,

 

After reading a few post threads, reading some related articles, and watching a few historic clips on YouTube ... 

 

Serious question, My crappy £3,000 Ford KA has an airbag, why don't F1 cars have them?

 

Also, when did seat-belts become compulsory in F1? I have looked at pictures from the late 60's and early 70's in books. Did some teams just use a lap strap? (So restraining belt not visible in photograph) 

 

And something that I may have to check up on, has an F1 emergency evac. helicopter landed on the track near to a driver who is seriously injured?

 

Finally, is there anything F1 can learn from its own history re: accidents & injury, that is being overlooked by the FIA?

 

Jayzi.   


Edited by Jayzi, 14 March 2015 - 15:22.


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#2 Imateria

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:13

Where would you put an airbag? The steering wheel is too full of electronics and too small for one to fit. Then there's the fact that they aren't too likely to be thrown forward and hit the steering wheel since they are very securly strapped in. Also, given the highspeed nature of the crashes and the g forces involved, wouldn't an airbag going off infront of you be a danger in itself?

 

I think the one thing that really needs to be looked at is trackside vehicles, the tractors for clearing stricken cars, they really need some form of protection around their sides, front and back. Another accident like Bianchi's would be completely unacceptable.



#3 ferrarifanf1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:15

ya where in world wud u keep an airbag???



#4 AustinF1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:18

With an airbag in a racing car, there's also a much higher risk of an inadvertent deployment (potentially lethal).



#5 ferrarifanf1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:19

That cud be awful so throw the airbag away. we dont need it :p



#6 brr

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:20

 

I think the one thing that really needs to be looked at is trackside vehicles, the tractors for clearing stricken cars, they really need some form of protection around their sides, front and back. Another accident like Bianchi's would be completely unacceptable.

 

This might be simpler to solve by requiring SC before putting trackside vehicles on track or runoff areas.



#7 Collombin

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:20

I just had a horrible thought of what it would be like to have an airbag-inflating accident in my road car if I was wearing a crash helmet.

#8 AustinF1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:21

That cud be awful so throw the airbag away. we dont need it :p

I'm not saying that at all. I'm saying it's a consideration that needs to be weighed, or at least accounted for. Maybe by adjusting the impact speed needed to trigger it.

 

I'd think the most likely use of airbags in an F1 car would be for side impacts.


Edited by AustinF1, 14 March 2015 - 16:28.


#9 Gyno

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:21

Only place would be  on the sides of the cockpit not in the steering wheel.

It would have saved FA from getting a concusion in Barcelona if they find out a way to deploy it in a crash.

Like when the wheels comes of or the side crash structure gets hit hard.



#10 AustinF1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:23

I just had a horrible thought of what it would be like to have an airbag-inflating accident in my road car if I was wearing a crash helmet.

That's also a consideration. How would a helmet interact with it? I wonder if any marshals who've seen this kind of thing at track days could chime on. ExFlagMan?



#11 anneomoly

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:23

Here's a fairly comprehensive source

 

And er. Airbags can cause concussion in and of themselves. Their main use is to be a physical barrier between person and steering wheel. In an F1 car the six point safety harness and HANS means that the driver will never have their head thrown that far forward, the steering wheel is in a different place and the driver also wears a helmet.


Edited by anneomoly, 14 March 2015 - 16:27.


#12 03011969

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:27

When has an F1 driver, in the modern era at least, ever hurt himself by hitting his head on the steering wheel?  AFAIK the answer is: never. 

 

That being the case, what would be the point of an airbag?

 

There might be a case for having 5-point harnesses in roadcars of course, although having to have some bloke reaching between your legs every time you want to nip to the shops might become a little tiresome, not to mention unnecessarily homoerotic.



#13 ANF

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:28

The FIA did some some F1 airbag research in the 90s, didn't they?

As for seat belts, I found the following in Appendix II in Sid Watkin's Life at the Limit [check out the link in anneomoly's post – it's the same list]:

1963–65: Rules for seatbelt anchorages
1968: Recommendations on seat harnesses
1972: 6-point harness
1991: FIA tested seatbelts
1995: Width of seat belts increased for chest protection from 5.0cm to 7.5cm

(The book was written in 1996.)


Edited by ANF, 14 March 2015 - 16:37.


#14 ANF

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:30

When has an F1 driver, in the modern era at least, ever hurt himself by hitting his head on the steering wheel?  AFAIK the answer is: never.

Häkkinen in Adelaide? (Not sure, so look it up.)



#15 Collombin

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:31

When has an F1 driver, in the modern era at least, ever hurt himself by hitting his head on the steering wheel?  AFAIK the answer is: never.


Whilst from an earlier era, Stirling Moss shows off his Spa and Goodwood mangled steering wheels more than his trophies!

And as for seatbelts, the OP may be surprised to learn that most drivers used to prefer being thrown out in a crash.

#16 Gyno

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:33

Here's a fairly comprehensive source

 

And er. Airbags can cause concussion in and of themselves. Their main use is to be a physical barrier between person and steering wheel. In an F1 car the six point safety harness and HANS means that the driver will never have their head thrown that far forward, the steering wheel is in a different place and the driver also wears a helmet.

 

It could be used in side impacts like the one FA had in Barcelona.

Not head on crashes, that's why the HANS system is there.



#17 sergeym

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:49

The purpose of airbag is to prevent driver from hitting car interior. This is not needed for F1 driver who is restrained by multipoint seat-belts and always wears helmet. 



#18 anneomoly

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:50

It could be used in side impacts like the one FA had in Barcelona.

Not head on crashes, that's why the HANS system is there.

 

 

But again, airbags are to do with movement of the driver within the car and them hitting bits of the car. F1 drivers don't move in the car, there's not enough room and they're strapped in too well. All you'd do with an airbag is create an additional impact point - like having a car crash while your passenger punches you in the face.

 

I think there's something else that you're missing from Alonso's crash - you don't have to hit your head on anything to get a concussion, you can get enough energy to cause damage through other means - e.g. up your spine (think F1 drivers over a kerb, or even a bucking horse), or from the sheer energy of going from very fast to a standstill quickly (which is why stuntmen/jockeys etc roll on landing, and is part of the idea behind gravel traps etc). And it would be perfectly feasible to have a crash, get hit by the airbag and be given a concussion from the airbag.

 

Roadcars have them because we don't have HANS, we aren't in a tiny space, and brawny engineers don't strap us up every time we get in to my everlasting disappointment.



#19 03011969

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 16:54

Häkkinen in Adelaide? (Not sure, so look it up.)

Fair comment. And it seems the introduction of HANS was, in part, thanks to accident, further prventing lids and wheels meeting each other.



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#20 ANF

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:00

Why there are no airbags:

 

IMOLA, Italy (April 8, 2000) -- The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), Mercedes-Benz and McLaren International presented the results of further development of the HANS (Head and Neck Support) driver protection system and as well as an airbag system suitable for use in Formula One race cars. As a joint venture between the FIA, Mercedes-Benz and McLaren International in Stuttgart, the objective for the project -- which began on October 23, 1996 -- was to develop a driver restraint system for head-on and oblique frontal impacts, with a realistic crash angle of up to 30°.

...

An advantage of the HANS system over the Formula One airbag, which was investigated in parallel, is that upon impact, the loads are transmitted evenly across the forehead instead of to the chin. Furthermore, since the driver's seating position in a race car is almost horizontal, an airbag cannot cushion the head and chest simultaneously, as happens in a road car. Consequently, the reduced neck strain achieved with an airbag system is not guaranteed in a Formula One car. With HANS, this problem does not exist. For this reason, the project of introducing an airbag in Formula One cars has been abandoned.

http://www.motorspor...ystem-proposed/

 

There should be an FIA paper or press release somewhere? I can't find it.



#21 kamikaze1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:03

 

 

And something that I may have to check up on, has an F1 emergency evac. helicopter landed on the track near to a driver who is seriously injured?

 

 

  Senna in Imola to name one.    Are you new to this sport?   I have a memory of one landing at Austria with Sato


Edited by kamikaze1, 14 March 2015 - 17:09.


#22 Jayzi

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:09

Hi again,

 

Thank you all for your comments ...

 

The link supplied by anneomoly is an interesting read! (Thank you!)

 

Also, thank you ANK for seat-belt info.

 

Just perhaps, air bags discussion re: side impacts has merit? My ex partner had a more expensive car than mine that had airbags in the side pillars. 

 

I obviously have much reading to do, but somewhere in my head I remember reading about de-acceleration effects re: static restraint Vs squashy airbag? And the Hans device, good for forward and sideways protection?

 

I am no engineer, medical professional or journo. (I'm a teacher) I just have an interest in safety!   

 

Jayzi.


Edited by Jayzi, 14 March 2015 - 17:39.


#23 alfa1

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:22

Häkkinen in Adelaide? (Not sure, so look it up.)

 

Mika hurt his head so much on the steering wheel that for many years afterwards (until about 2008), all the McLaren steering wheels had a big lump of padding in the middle.  

 

8eSxZSz.jpg

 

(With HANS, its no longer needed.)



#24 ExFlagMan

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:28

Only place would be  on the sides of the cockpit not in the steering wheel.
It would have saved FA from getting a concusion in Barcelona if they find out a way to deploy it in a crash.
Like when the wheels comes of or the side crash structure gets hit hard.

Neither of which happened in Alonso's crash....

#25 Rob

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:41

Mika hurt his head so much on the steering wheel that for many years afterwards (until about 2008), all the McLaren steering wheels had a big lump of padding in the middle.  

 

 

(With HANS, its no longer needed.)

 

It's like Sauber becoming the first team to have high cockpit sides following Wendlinger's accident. It took another two years for the FIA to make them mandatory.



#26 nosecone

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:43

$_35.JPG

 

Head rest have a foam filling. This should basically absorb the energy during a side impact


Edited by nosecone, 14 March 2015 - 17:43.


#27 ExFlagMan

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Posted 14 March 2015 - 17:52

$_35.JPG
 
Head rest have a foam filling. This should basically absorb the energy during a side impact

It helps, but does not totally prevent possible injury, https://www.youtube....h?v=WY0j9FCrz4Q

#28 F1 Mike

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 19:58

The FIA did some some F1 airbag research in the 90s, didn't they?
As for seat belts, I found the following in Appendix II in Sid Watkin's Life at the Limit [check out the link in anneomoly's post – it's the same list]:
1963–65: Rules for seatbelt anchorages
1968: Recommendations on seat harnesses
1972: 6-point harness
1991: FIA tested seatbelts
1995: Width of seat belts increased for chest protection from 5.0cm to 7.5cm
(The book was written in 1996.)


I've just seen a Mercedes promo documentary after McLaren's 1998 success "The Team Is The Star"

In it featured FIA cockpit airbag testing footage. Does anyone remember anything about this? They obviously concluded it wasn't necessary to go down that route, but interesting that they looked at it.
The HANS device is clearly better suited for a racing car in any case

#29 PayasYouRace

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 20:15

I remember seeing references to cockpit airbags from around that time and they were determined to be of little value in the sort of high speed crashes experienced by F1 cars.



#30 balmybaldwin

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 22:50

This might be simpler to solve by requiring SC before putting trackside vehicles on track or runoff areas.

Safety car was out for BIanchi, They changed the speed limit afterwards.  Last year gasly missed a simlar heavy truck at speed by inches - again under safety car.  You also need to cover human error of a marshal post sending a vehicle out thru mis communication

 

This is a problem that could be solved/greatly mitigated by strapping tec-pro type material around the trucks as a skirt without really inhibiting the vehicles ability to recover f1 cars - or a more professional version - this is F1 after all. This would make them relatively safer to crash into and could be bolt on for simgle seaters only if necessary.  "Just"  hitting a vehicle laterally is not that much more dangerous than hitting a wall, but going under it massively increases the danger levels not least due to postential issues of access. If you can make the skirt lower than the impact protection (nose, side and rear impact structures) then we could massively reduce the chance of a car submarining. e.g. if the tractor bianchi hit only had 6 inches of ground clearance at the rear instead of the 18" or so it had, I suspect he would have "just" had a nasty accident and broken legs or similar as the nose would have taken the impact

 

SImilarly in the UK and europe there used to be a problem of cars hiting/going under semi truck trailers and the car and ocupants being decapitated. They made it mandatory for semi truck trailers ito have guards to prevent a car going under it, and it is now a rarely more than a bit of bent metal when a car hits the side of a trailer. I'm surprised when I see you tube clips in the US that it's still quite common there.  Good for fast n furious movies, but bad for people's health


Edited by balmybaldwin, 27 February 2024 - 22:52.


#31 Beri

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 23:38

I remember seeing references to cockpit airbags from around that time and they were determined to be of little value in the sort of high speed crashes experienced by F1 cars.


If I remember it correctly; the airbags wouldn't deploy fast enough with the technology in that day and age to be of any meaningful advantage during a high speed crash. Meaning that the head of the driver would be traversing forward during a crash and the airbag deployment would be too late and wouldn't cushion the head but instead knock the head back with too much force. Resulting in likely more injuries to be deemed safe.

#32 TomNokoe

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Posted 27 February 2024 - 23:45

Safety car was out for Bianchi


It wasn't. I've seen this misremembered more than I'd expect in recent years. Bemusing!

#33 ANF

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 00:26

I've just seen a Mercedes promo documentary after McLaren's 1998 success "The Team Is The Star"

In it featured FIA cockpit airbag testing footage. Does anyone remember anything about this? They obviously concluded it wasn't necessary to go down that route, but interesting that they looked at it.
The HANS device is clearly better suited for a racing car in any case

Interestingly, there was reportedly an article, or "a little story", about the Mercedes-Benz F1 airbag research in Autosport as early as 12 May 1994 when, apparently, the project was just being started upon: https://groups.googl.../m/R4H_1qzJZUoJ
 
I haven't read the Autosport story, but the date suggests the idea must have come before the fatal accidents at Imola?

Some more info on the FIA and F1 airbags here:

Although there are reports in Europe that Mika Hakkinen's accident in Adelaide has accelerated research into the use of airbags in Grand Prix cars, work has, in fact, being going on since May 1994 when FIA President Max Mosley included airbag research in his brief to the then new Advisory Expert Group.

Some airbag work was carried out earlier this year [1995] at the Motor Industry Research Association headquarters in Nuneaton, England, but this was only to establish baseline figures, using what is known as a HyGe crash simulation. This involves an F1 chassis - a McLaren - being fitted onto a sled which is then fired in the opposite direction to the impact the test is looking to simulate. The effect is identical and, using this technique, can be carried out without the chassis being damaged. The data from several of these simulated crashes ........

https://www.grandpri...g-research.html


Fast-forward to 8 April 2000 when the HANS prototype was displayed in the media centre during the San Marino Grand Prix. From a DailyF1 article:

Known as HANS (Head and Neck Support) the system has been a joint project by the FIA, Mercedes-Benz, and McLaren, and is the brainchild of American biomechanics professor Dr. Robert Hubbard.
...
The new system is an alternative to the Formula One airbag, which was also studied for feasibility by the same three parties involved with HANS.

It was decided the bag could not guarantee avoiding neck strain, and the horizontal seating position of the driver and steering wheel also presented problems for cushioning the driver’s head and chest simultaneously.

While HANS will be refined for introduction, the airbag project has been abandoned.

https://forums.autos...78-hans-system/


I also found some details in this AtlasF1 article by Ross Stonefeld written after the death of Dale Earnhardt:

In October of 1996, a joint venture comprising of McLaren International, Mercedes-Benz, and the FIA, was created to research a driver restraint system for head-on and oblique frontal impacts, with a crash angle of up to 30°.

DaimlerBenz contracted Hubbard/Downing, Inc. for joint testing and development to make the HANS device suitable for Formula One competition. Initial tests - run in a Formula 3000 monocoque specified to 1998 Formula One cockpit regulations - proved successful, and in April of 2000 at the San Marino Grand Prix in Imola the final reports were released and with the approval of the FIA Safety Committee, HANS was recommended for use.

https://www.atlasf1..../stonefeld.html


Edited by ANF, 28 February 2024 - 00:30.


#34 PayasYouRace

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 07:49

If I remember it correctly; the airbags wouldn't deploy fast enough with the technology in that day and age to be of any meaningful advantage during a high speed crash. Meaning that the head of the driver would be traversing forward during a crash and the airbag deployment would be too late and wouldn't cushion the head but instead knock the head back with too much force. Resulting in likely more injuries to be deemed safe.

Yeah I can believe that.



#35 Leatherface

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 08:32

How bloody difficult would it be to force them to use a speed limiter until a car is cleared and then they can use a VSC period to warm the tyres up before activating the green light.

Edited by Leatherface, 28 February 2024 - 08:33.


#36 Bleu

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 09:24

It wasn't. I've seen this misremembered more than I'd expect in recent years. Bemusing!

 

And it took about a minute from Bianchi's crash until safety car was finally sent out.



#37 Beri

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 09:51

Recovery vehicles on track should only be there when the field is lined up behind the safety car with a general announcement by the race directors (not the teams) to all the drivers, pretty much how its done at Le Mans, that there will be a recovery vehicle active on track at Corner X. So no weaving or erratic movements in that sector, just follow the safety car in a straight line.

 

This all in combination with a hard speed limit of 50kmh, and not those stupid delta times, whenever a safetycar is deployed. It can be really as simple as that.



#38 SophieB

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 09:56

It wasn't. I've seen this misremembered more than I'd expect in recent years. Bemusing!

I think it’s understandable that people start misremembering. For obvious reasons, it’s not like that Japanese GP gets shown on reruns very often. Indeed I think Sky didn’t only not show the scheduled repeats, they immediately took it off their website so it couldn’t be downloaded*. It’s handy when the misrememberings are corrected, though for much the same reason. 
 

*it is possible I am also misrembering.



#39 Leatherface

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 09:57

Recovery vehicles on track should only be there when the field is lined up behind the safety car with a general announcement by the race directors (not the teams) to all the drivers, pretty much how its done at Le Mans, that there will be a recovery vehicle active on track at Corner X. So no weaving or erratic movements in that sector, just follow the safety car in a straight line.

This all in combination with a hard speed limit of 50kmh, and not those stupid delta times, whenever a safetycar is deployed. It can be really as simple as that.


Like I said, I think they could do away with the safety and use a mixture of a speed limiter and VSC.

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#40 RedRabbit

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:07

Recovery vehicles on track should only be there when the field is lined up behind the safety car with a general announcement by the race directors (not the teams) to all the drivers, pretty much how its done at Le Mans, that there will be a recovery vehicle active on track at Corner X. So no weaving or erratic movements in that sector, just follow the safety car in a straight line.

This all in combination with a hard speed limit of 50kmh, and not those stupid delta times, whenever a safetycar is deployed. It can be really as simple as that.


The delta times are honestly absurd. Drivers speed along until just before the delta line and hit the brakes so often.

#41 Leatherface

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:16

The delta times are honestly absurd. Drivers speed along until just before the delta line and hit the brakes so often.


Yes, which a speed limiter would remedy in an instant, but, like always, they love to make hard work of things.

#42 pdac

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:19

How bloody difficult would it be to force them to use a speed limiter until a car is cleared and then they can use a VSC period to warm the tyres up before activating the green light.

 

It's like many safety solutions - it's not the difficulty in implementing them, it's the difficulty in getting people to accept changes. We always hear how "safety is most important", but the blunt truth is that it's just one of many things that are important and some (like, perhaps, keeping the show going) rank much higher on the list.



#43 Leatherface

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:23

It's like many safety solutions - it's not the difficulty in implementing them, it's the difficulty in getting people to accept changes. We always hear how "safety is most important", but the blunt truth is that it's just one of many things that are important and some (like, perhaps, keeping the show going) rank much higher on the list.


How could it possibly be difficult to accept, we would have less time behind the safety car which means more racing. I get you with the show though, artificial drama is better than pure racing in their eyes, that's just plain wrong in a sporting contest.

Edited by Leatherface, 28 February 2024 - 10:33.


#44 Muppetmad

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:32

I think it’s understandable that people start misremembering. For obvious reasons, it’s not like that Japanese GP gets shown on reruns very often. Indeed I think Sky didn’t only not show the scheduled repeats, they immediately took it off their website so it couldn’t be downloaded*. It’s handy when the misrememberings are corrected, though for much the same reason. 
 

*it is possible I am also misrembering.

I entirely agree, but it is deeply unfortunate that such a critical detail is misremembered, as it has very significant implications for who should be deemed at fault for the incident.



#45 SenorSjon

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:38

And it took about a minute from Bianchi's crash until safety car was finally sent out.

 

Back in the day, local incidents would be covered under yellows and cleared within a few minutes. The Monaco crew was renowned for this and could have cars airborne in a minute. Not the 15 minute - 7-10 lap misery or red flag restarts we see these days.

 

Recovery vehicles on track should only be there when the field is lined up behind the safety car with a general announcement by the race directors (not the teams) to all the drivers, pretty much how its done at Le Mans, that there will be a recovery vehicle active on track at Corner X. So no weaving or erratic movements in that sector, just follow the safety car in a straight line.

 

This all in combination with a hard speed limit of 50kmh, and not those stupid delta times, whenever a safetycar is deployed. It can be really as simple as that.

 

We did have a hairy escape in Japan 2022 with Gasly ignoring the double yellows and only focused on staying under his delta time to catch the SC pack after a nose change in lap 2. He nearly hit a recovery truck. You can't red flag every race for a crashed car. You can't keep helping stupidity.



#46 Leatherface

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:47

Back in the day, local incidents would be covered under yellows and cleared within a few minutes. The Monaco crew was renowned for this and could have cars airborne in a minute. Not the 15 minute - 7-10 lap misery or red flag restarts we see these days.


We did have a hairy escape in Japan 2022 with Gasly ignoring the double yellows and only focused on staying under his delta time to catch the SC pack after a nose change in lap 2. He nearly hit a recovery truck. You can't red flag every race for a crashed car. You can't keep helping stupidity.


You can, you can eliminate stupidity by introducing a speed limiter during this period.

#47 Clatter

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 10:58

This all in combination with a hard speed limit of 50kmh, and not those stupid delta times, whenever a safetycar is deployed. It can be really as simple as that.


Then they would never catch up with the SC.

#48 Clatter

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 11:00

Like I said, I think they could do away with the safety and use a mixture of a speed limiter and VSC.


If there are workers on the track then SC or red flag are the safer options. That gives them time to do their work without constantly constantly watching for the next car.

#49 Leatherface

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 11:03

If there are workers on the track then SC or red flag are the safer options. That gives them time to do their work without constantly constantly watching for the next car.


Yes, in some situations that is unavoidable but we could do away with a lot of red flags and safety cars with this system.

#50 SophieB

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Posted 28 February 2024 - 11:10

I entirely agree, but it is deeply unfortunate that such a critical detail is misremembered, as it has very significant implications for who should be deemed at fault for the incident.

Of course, this is why I’m sincere that it’s also right that people who remember it more accurately jump in and go, no, that’s not right, you’re misremembering.