Following on from the crash that saw Jules Bianchi collide with a recovery tractor last weekend in Japan, drivers around the world called for the safety car that slows drivers down to a specified pace, to be used more often. The most high profile statement came from ex-F1 driver, Jacques Villeneuve, who said he thought that the safety car should be used every time that the recovery tractor is out on the track. Now his claims are being backed up by another F1 driver, Sergio Perez.
“In the future, when there is a tractor picking up a car, we need a safety car no matter the conditions because there is always a risk,” Perez said (via Reuters).
It wasn’t all about driver safety though for Perez, who was also concerned for the marshals and other individuals who are helping to remove damaged cars from the track. In the case in Japan, a recovery tractor was being used to recover a previously crashed driver, when Jules Bianchi, a promising Ferrari test driver and member of the Marussia F1 team, lost control in the wet conditions and collided with it, causing a traumatic head injury that has kept him in intensive care since.
“You expose the marshals, a lot of people, so we need a safety car if the tractor is on track,” Perez continued. “You could have people run out of brakes, so many factors you never expect, and if the tractor is there it’s a big problem. You don’t want to expose anyone like that. We have to take care of the marshals.”
So far there hasn’t been much word from the F1 regulatory body, the International Automobile Federation, though it has announced that an investigation is ongoing. It will likely look in to how safety practices could be improved during a race, without sacrificing its more exciting elements in the process.
Many fans have complained that the safety car kills off a lot of the race’s excitement and can give an unfair advantage to those in the latter positions, since they are allowed to catch up if they’re a lap behind the rest of the racers. However, clearly drivers like Perez would rather see races made much safer by having the safety car used more often.
During the interview, Perez said that he would find it difficult to concentrate on the upcoming race in Russia, the 16th round of the current championship season.
“It’s very difficult. I’m here with you guys but all the time your subconscious is thinking about our friend Jules. What happened this Sunday was a big shock for all of us,” he said.
“For everyone who is involved in the F1 paddock it’s a big shock. You always realise that the risk is there but you always think that it cannot happen to you, it will not happen to you.”