MU MUCH MISTAKEN…
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.