If there’s one thing that shouldn’t be in the same sentence as “showbiz,” it’s Formula One crashes, where the cockpit is exposed and cars reach ludicrously high speeds. Despite this, F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone suggested building walls closer to tracks to up the danger factor—it makes a better show!
Ecclestone gave life to a bad Robin Miller column by suggesting that the runoff areas and general safety of modern racing—not the mind-numbing predictability and lack of passing—are what’s boring Formula One fans.
He explained to a group of journalists at the United States Grand Prix, as quoted by Reuters:
I’ve been criticized probably by everybody because I wanted to build 40cm walls around the corners. They keep saying they mustn’t go off the road, I promise they won’t.
Bernie listed off Baku, Monaco and Singapore’s street races as bringing the excitement—never mind that the speeds on the tightest sections of these street courses tend to be lower, or that long straights like Singapore’s still feature runoff areas for safety reasons.
But oh no! It’s about the drama!
More verbal diarrhea from the man who’s still around for reasons that baffle us, via Reuters:
What Fernando had in Australia ... you wouldn’t think he was going to walk away.
What we ought to do immediately that happens is have big sheets all the way around, bring the ambulance in ... and take him away. He’s gone to the hospital and later on you announce that, thank God, he’s out. A bit of showbiz. People like that.
Erm, no. Alonso’s crash was horrifying, and left us wondering if one of the series’ most talented drivers would still be able to compete. That’s the exact opposite of what the sport needs more of. None of that would be rad.
What kind of homicidal maniac wants to see their favorite drivers get hurt or die? One who pleads ignorance of how cars work and has led the world’s premier open-wheel series for many, many years, I guess. Ecclestone explained, as quoted by Reuters:
In those (the old) days, and it can’t happen again, people would come to a race and think somebody could get killed.
Today they know they come to a race and nobody is going to get killed. Which is good.
Nope! Drivers can still get horrifically injured and killed out on track, and to suggest otherwise is quite possibly the dumbest thing that’s ever come out of Bernie’s mouth (which is saying something.)
Sure, crash structures around drivers’ bodies and safety gear have improved to keep certain kinds of injuries at bay, but the sheer physics of the abrupt high-G changes in direction that happen in racing crashes still do a number on drivers’ bodies.
Worse yet, F1 has been dragging its feet on protecting the front of its cockpit, leaving drivers with nothing between their head and, say, a loose spring but a helmet. Now Bernie wants to increase the amount of flying debris on track?
Fortunately for him and everyone else, though, the chances of this idea ever being approved by the FIA are slim to none.
[H/T NBC Sports]