Former F1 driver and world champion Jody Scheckter has weighed in on the recent death of Dan Wheldon and the state of Indycar racing. In particular Scheckter spoke to the BBC about the Las Vegas circuit and the decision made to race there by Indycar.
Jody was asked about the safety of Indycar and he had this to say to the BBC (you can hear the interview at the link provided):
"No. It is the most dangerous form of motor racing at the moment.
"I think the set-up they put in so it can be more of a spectacle makes it very, very dangerous on circuits like this. Some others [circuits] aren't as bad."
Scheckter said that the number of cars and the configuration of the wings allowed for flat-out throttle on this particularly fast circuit. This, he says, is a real problem and a crash was inevitable.
"There is hardly any difference in speed between the good drivers and the bad drivers,"
"They were basically touching wheels at 220mph. They all bunch up together so there are 34 cars in a small space of track.
"One person makes a mistake and this happens. You [shouldn't] have to get killed if you make a mistake. It was madness. Formula 1 is not like that anymore and it is still quite exciting."
Former Formula 1 and Indycar driver Mark Blundell also weighed in saying:
"It was inevitable in many ways," the Briton said of Sunday's accident. "It was a recipe for disaster. These type of cars shouldn't be on these type of circuits.
"Fifteen cars wiped out - 40% of the grid - and we've had a fatality. That's not acceptable."
Scheckter says he's asked his son, current Indycar driver Tomas Scheckter, to stop racing in the series. Tomas was uninjured in Sunday's massive crash.
Former Formula 1 driver and current BBC Radio 5 Live commentator Anthony Davidson felt it is not a matter of the series or circuit but the speed:
"You've got to look to the root of the problem and the root of the problem is just the fact that you've got very high speed cars travelling around very closely fought races with open cockpits.
"You have to question, do they have to go that fast? Can the spectators see the difference between 250mph or 160mph? I am not so sure.
"I don't think it is down to the style of the race or the carrot at the end of it. The temptation and carrot of the money is always there no matter what race you are in."
Current Indycar driver Dario Franchitti said Sunday that things were out of hand early on:
"I could see within five laps people were starting to do crazy stuff," he said.
"I love hard racing but that to me is not really what it's about, one small mistake from somebody".
As the dust settles on the circuit, allegations and the quest for understanding continues. Anger has seeped in and recriminations fester. Some have suggested that Wheldon was driving too aggressive because he was after the special $5 M prize money. Mario Andretti said via his Twitter account:
"Dan Wheldon did not take mad risk because he was over-motivated by $5 mil prize. To imply he drove different due to $$, you offend his honor"
In the end, questions should be asked but they should be the right ones. The questions should be fashioned in such a manner as to asses the reasons and develop a better plan for safety. Is it simply the speed? Would 160 mph have left Mike Conway, Tony Renna or Dan Wheldon uninjured or alive?
An interesting point Jody Scheckter makes is that the series has tweaked the aero, power and set up for flat-out racing and this is, arguably, a reaction to the waning interest in the series. He later offers the suggestion that F1 has taken safety seriously and it is still entertaining to watch.
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