First and foremost I would like to wish Felipe Massa a full and speedy recovery. He was very very unfortunate to have been hit by that debris. The latest is that he is recovering well and this is great news.
What happened to Felipe Massa was a freak accident that most probably won’t ever be repeated again however we need to learn from this accident to try and prevent something similar from happening again.
The Formula 1 drivers are already planning to discuss ways to protect the driver’s head from flying objects and that is certainly an avenue worth exploring but my concern is the contradictory actions by the FIA in promoting safety yet putting rules in place that reduce safety.
Massa’s accident was caused by a flying spring from Barrichello’s car. Basically something broke on Barrichello’s car and while these things could happen anytime, the chances of them happening when there is a full ban on testing in place is magnified significantly as the teams have only the race weekend to squeeze in a few laps to test new parts as they go through their programme. Had there been limited testing during the season, the chances of this accident occurring is much reduced as the track will not be as busy.
Formula 1 is extremely competitive and the teams want to push upgrades on the car as soon as possible but banning testing while allowing changes to the cars is a recipe for disaster.
A better way is to limit the number of times upgrades are introduced and have a 2-day test session before that. For example, allow upgrades to be introduced after every four races and teams must test those upgrades on track prior to introducing them.
The FIA Safety commission has been asked to report on this accident so lets hope its findings are apolitical.
Another issue that is of concern is the mix of KERS and non-KERS cars. In my view this is very dangerous and we could end up with a big pileup at one of the upcoming races. KERS equipped cars are superior to the non-KERS cars at the start and we are ending up with more cars bunched together at the first turn which increases the chance of cars touching and crashing into each other. In Germany Hamilton and Webber touched, in Hungary Raikkonen and Vettel touched, luckily in both cases other cars weren’t impacted but it only takes one car to spin for a few cars behind to suddenly find no place to go.
First corner accidents have always happened but having two different specification cars mixed together makes the situation more dangerous and certainly goes against making racing safer.
The teams have agreed not to use KERS next season which from this point of view is good (either all the teams use it or no team uses it) but we still have 7 races to go and while it may sound unfair to the 2 remaining KERS teams, they should agree not to use KERS at the start of a race.
The FIA wanted to ban tyre warmers for next year in order to cut costs and the drivers have been complaining about this as there is a significant difference in the laptimes between warmed up tyres and cold ones. Thankfully it now appears that tyre warmers will not be banned next season which makes a lot of sense.
We need to be sensible when it comes to cutting costs. Motorsport will never be completely safe but lets reduce the chances of accidents rather than increase them.
A comment on Renault’s one race ban, if Renault were indeed found to be negligent by the stewards for knowingly letting Alonso drive with a loose wheel then they do deserve a penalty but to give them a race ban is a knee-jerk reaction. A fine or a points deduction would have been better. Many Alonso fans would have purchased tickets to watch their hero in Valencia and it seems unfair to rob them of that. Lets hope that a good solution can be found.