Like most other old men who haven’t raced competitively in decades, Autoweek reports that former Formula One manager Daniele Audetto said the sport is losing its “essence” as it gets safer. Audetto, Niki Lauda’s Ferrari team boss during his almost fatal 1976 crash, said drivers have to accept the risk of F1.
Audetto’s complete ignorance of safety comes after F1’s governing body, the FIA, announced that the unattractive, flip flop-style halo head protection would be mandated on F1’s historically open cockpits in 2018. Nine of the 10 F1 teams reportedly voted against it, but that’s probably because it’s an ugly, half-baked solution that could have been much more refined over the course of the season.
But drivers have wanted cockpit protection since the recent deaths of two open-wheel drivers, with most banding together to petition for closed cockpits by the 2017 season. That didn’t happen, and the FIA made a seemingly rushed decision last week to push the halo out for 2018.
Part of the reason the FIA chose the halo was because the governing body claims it can “significantly reduce the potential for injuries” and withstand the force of 15 times the static load of an F1 car. So, yeah, the halo does a lot. It just doesn’t look good while doing it.
While most everyone else is mad about how the halo looks, Audetto doesn’t care about that. Even as a former racer himself who has somehow made it to age 74 in his ignorance of safety, Audetto thinks these cars shouldn’t get any type of safety improvements in the first place.
Try not to lose your eyes in the back of your head while reading this one, and keep in mind that this guy was there when Lauda almost burned alive in a race car. From Autoweek:
“In my time, it was a great honor and, at the same time, a great risk to drive in Formula 1,” he told Germany’s Speed Week. “I’ve lost some friends, but the reality is that a Formula 1 driver must accept the risk. So many circuits are now in the desert, where it is almost impossible to have an accident. It’s like driving in a simulator, with drivers remote-controlled from the box.
“There is far too much technology and safety. And with this exaggerated safety and zero risk, Formula 1 has, in my opinion, lost some of its essence. It is also less attractive for the spectators. It’s not good to say, but people want to sometimes see accidents just as they want to see fights on the track.”
Um, friend, there’s plenty of risk in racing open-wheel cars with top speeds of well over 200 mph. There’s even a huge amount of risk in the slower tiers of the open-wheel ladder, as we saw when British Formula 4 Championship driver Billy Monger lost his legs in a crash earlier this year.
It’s not about saying you heroically went to battle in your extremely dangerous race car. It’s about putting on a good show for the spectators and making it out of the race car alive.
Autoweek reports that Lauda himself called the halo a mistake, too, but not for safety reasons:
“There is no doubt that safety must improve where possible, but we tried the Halo, the Aeroscreen of Red Bull and now Ferrari tried the Shield. None of them were 100 percent convincing, but Halo is just wrong.”
Lauda said one problem is driver visibility, but explained: “The aesthetics are fatal. The Halo destroys the DNA of a Formula 1 car. The FIA has got F1 as safe as it gets, and the danger of flying wheels is largely nonexistent because they are always attached. Thankfully, the risk for drivers has become minimal.”
Sure, fine, tell us all that it’s a walk in the park out there. But not even during a peaceful stroll in the park are you immune to stepping on a rusty nail.
That’s why you wear shoes.