F1 Racing - - CHEQUERED FLAG -

com­pet­i­tive achiev­ers who be­lieve that they are the best and who de­vote them­selves to do­ing what­ever it takes to prove it, re­gard­less of the po­ten­tial con­se­quences. The charge they get from striv­ing to win, cou­pled with the sat­is­fac­tion of get­ting the best out of the ma­chin­ery and beat­ing their ri­vals is ad­dic­tive.

Yes, if they reach the top the money is mas­sive, but that isn’t why they started out. It was the de­sire to com­pete, to win and to be the best. None of them do so in the belief that they will die in the process, although all must ac­cept that it is a pos­si­bil­ity. But that is some­thing that hap­pens to other peo­ple, not to you, isn’t it? The lure of suc­cess is greater than the fear of death.

Motorsport in gen­eral, and F1 in par­tic­u­lar, is in­fin­itely safer than it used to be. Gone are the days of flimsy death­traps of cars and driv­ers who didn’t wear fire­proof cloth­ing, hel­mets, safety belts or HANS de­vices. Gone are in­ad­e­quate med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and cir­cuits with no run-off ar­eas or bar­ri­ers. In the old days, when the at­ti­tude was ‘the throt­tle works both ways and if you can’t take the heat keep out of the kitchen’, it was Jackie Stewart who fought for in­creased safety in F1 and was vil­i­fied for his ef­forts.

Over the years, the FIA, pushed by Bernie Ec­cle­stone, Max Mosley and the late Pro­fes­sor Sid Watkins, gen­er­ated safety changes that have im­proved things be­yond recog­ni­tion. But even so, with de­ter­mined men fight­ing for supremacy, wheel-to-wheel in 200mph pro­jec­tiles, there will be times when some­thing goes wrong and when all the pre­cau­tions in the world are not enough.

The wis­dom of hind­sight screams out that the re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle Bianchi col­lided with at Suzuka should never have been there, so thank heav­ens that pos­si­bil­ity has been re­duced thanks to the in­tro­duc­tion of the Vir­tual Safety Car.

There are those who say that mo­tor rac­ing should be stopped be­cause it is dan­ger­ous. To them I say that the time when we cease to do things be­cause they are dan­ger­ous is the time for us all to give up. Would they stop peo­ple climb­ing moun­tains? Cy­cling? Fish­ing? Cross­ing the road? Motorsport will al­ways be dan­ger­ous so, with Jules and all his pre­de­ces­sors who paid the ul­ti­mate price in mind, let us con­tinue to strive to make it ever safer, with the knowl­edge and ac­cep­tance that it can never be to­tally so.

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