Back in May, Charles Leclerc crashed Niki Lauda’s 1974 Formula 1 car but emerged unscathed. Still, Leclerc’s current teammate Carlos Sainz said this week that he may not be all right to take the same kind of risk.
Leclerc’s crash came in the Historic Monaco Grand Prix, an annual event that takes place a couple weeks before the Monaco Grand Prix. Leclerc was there to represent Ferrari, in an opportunity that I assume current Formula 1 drivers constantly have offers for: Come on out Racing Person and see if you can handle This Legendary Car From Several Decades Ago, because it would be fun to be able to say that a Racing Person drove your car once. Or at least Ferrari’s marketing department would really appreciate it.
One problem you may have surmised from the driver’s perspective, however, is that safety standards were different decades ago, and that might give said Racing Person some pause, or at least it should. According to Racing Person Carlos Sainz, it definitely does. In remarks picked up by Formula1.com:
“I had the opportunity to [test an old Ferrari] in the past,” said Sainz. “It always gives you a vision of how the sport was a long time ago. I’m in two minds with it because why would you risk it? Like, why? You’re in the middle of a Ferrari championship-winning chance. Why would you risk having this situation like happened to him [Leclerc]?
One might say that you don’t really have to risk it if you take things nice and slow and easy, but Sainz is a Racing Person, and that is not an option.
“But at the same time, when else are you going to have this opportunity to drive these cars? So, every time I jump in a classic Formula 1 car, I have these things in my head. And if I’m jumping in a car, I’m going to push it. I don’t know how to jump in a car and put the elbow out and drive around. I have no idea how to do this.”
He continued: “I can only jump in and feel it and feel how these cars felt, so every time I’m going to jump in, I’m going to push the car. And these things can happen.”
You might say that Leclerc is only 24 years old and still operating under the delusions of youth, but Sainz is 27 and is talking here like someone much older, like someone who very much knows themselves, and what they are capable of.
And this issue also isn’t just about F1 drivers hopping into old racecars, it applies to you, too, if you’ve ever had dreams of driving a classic, or even daily driving one. A slow spin around a closed course or parking lot will always be just fine for that, though I’m old enough now to fear much more, for many reasons, though mainly: airbags and crumple zones.