Monday, March 21, 2016

Alonso's F1 crash in Melbourne highlights how safe F1 cars are.

Call it a racing incident, call it distracted driving (Gutierrez was preoccupied trying to reprogram something on his steering wheel), call it bad braking - Alonso's crash in Melbourne this sunday was horrific whichever way you look at it.

What the video above doesn't show is that Alonso managed to get himself out of the wreckage unassisted and walked away. He was later checked out by the medical crew and found to have no serious injuries (although he is now limping).
F1 is a great sports and it's inherently dangerous. But the safety innovations in the design of the cars have come on in leaps and bounds as the years go by and only 10 years ago, this would likely have been a fatal crash. For Alonso to be able to have such tremendous forces applied to the car during this crash and be able to get out and walk away is a testament to the skill and engineering involved in creating modern F1 cars. If you watch the footage after the crash, where the crane is lifting the wreckage over the catch barrier, you'll see the cockpit of the car was completely intact - the safety cell was undamaged by the impact.
It does call into question the use of gravel traps again though. Most F1 circuits have asphalt run-off areas now and it could be argued that had that corner not been gravel, Alonso's car would not have flipped over. I'm surprised to still see grass and gravel run-off areas in modern F1 circuits.
In other news, hopefully the FIA can do something about the abominable new qualifying rules before the next race.


Paul Canciu said...

These F1 drivers (and racing drivers in general) are really tough. They do extensive strength training; so that helps a little in case of accidents, because they can withstand greater G-forces that normal people.
Still, as you said, the safety design of the cars improved dramatically over the last decade. Alonso's car is a good example of how they are designed to absorb the impacts.
But, no two accidents are the same. And also some luck is needed. Alonso's flip and backwards landing looked really stressful on the body, but he walked away seemingly unharmed. Jules Bianchi just went off the track in a straight line and suffered deadly injuries because he was unlucky to hit the crane with his head instead of with his car.

Markus said...

"Modern" and lifeless artificial circuits can not be compared to classic, non-permanent ones like Melbourne. It is impossible to wreck the city's apperance by spoiling everything with "safety tarmac".

Abandoning all classic challenges would turn F1 to a "live video game" instead of proper racing with all the risks that have to be taken. WRC (and rallying of any kind) are more demanding on driver skills and estimation of possible accidents.

Stupid driving only costs a car but is no longer a threat - the real heroes were the ones that didn't even wear safety belts.