Where F1 goes, the others follow, it seems. Autosport magazine has a report that Champ Car drivers are incensed by new tire chicanes introduced at Surfers Paradise. The system has already caused accidents in practice, in one of which Justin Wilson fractured his wrist and will not be able to drive in the race.
Echoes of F1 occur towards the end of the report with Sebastien Bourdais’ comments on the matter:
Bourdais is particularly unhappy because the current idea was proposed to the four-man driver safety committee – Bourdais, Wilson, Alex Tagliani, Oriol Servia – with (Tony) Cotman (Champ Car’s VP of Operations) sending diagrams to each, and they unanimously disapproved.
“I said to Tony, ‘What, are you trying to kill us?’ We suggested something similar to Long Beach, using rumble strips, and then we get here and discover that, hey, they’re going to run what they proposed anyway. So what was the point in asking us?”
How familiar that sounds. Compare it to this extract from the FIA’s September press release on their new high speed safety barrier:
The owners of circuits licensed for Formula One are required not to discuss safety measures with third parties (including drivers). This is to prevent self-appointed experts, with little or no understanding of the latest developments in circuit safety, causing confusion and undermining the significant safety benefits which are now being achieved.
What it amounts to is that the drivers, the people who are going to suffer the consequences of any mistakes made by the governing body, get no say in the assessment of proposed new safety measures. The arrogance of this astounds me. If the F1 drivers are “self-appointed experts”, how much more so are the delegates of the FIA and their chosen safety measure designers who have never sat in the seat of a racing car in their lives? To say that drivers, who have experienced the effects of coming into contact with various attempts to limit the dangers of racing accidents, have nothing to contribute towards the design and introduction of new systems is short-sighted, to say the least. Drivers know what it’s like and will be able to foresee problems where none occur to the “experts”.
It seems that something very similar is happening in Champ Cars now – and this just at the time when we thought the Americans had a much more sensible approach to such things. How often during the latest FIA fiasco have we gazed at the low profiles maintained by the governing bodies of Champ Cars and Indy Cars and wished that F1 could learn from them? But no, it looks as if things happen the other way around and the Statesiders are learning from F1 instead.
Ah well, if nothing else, I suppose we can always say that it proves that F1 is the pinnacle of the sport…