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FIA urged to act on driving standards

Motorsport's governing body looks set to cast greater scrutiny on driving standards following the antics in all classes at the Belgian Grand Prix.

Accidents throughout the Belgian Grand Prix programme look likely to provoke a reaction from the powers-that-be in a bid to act before there is a serious injury or fatality.

According to Britain's Independent newspaper, sources close to the FIA claim that race stewards will be encouraged to clamp down on driving standards in the wake of the start-line/first corner accident that claimed F1 points leader Fernando Alonso, title challenger Lewis Hamilton and qualifying surprise Sergio Perez at Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday. The man adjudged to have precipitated the incident with an excessive weave across the straight, Romain Grosjean, has picked up a one-race ban for his actions, but the governing body is determined that standards are improved right down the racing ladder, after both GP2 and GP3 produced some frightening moments.

The IndyCar Series - and those in other series who knew him - was rocked by the death of Dan Wheldon at Las Vegas Motor Speedway late last season, but F1 has been fortunate not to have suffered a fatality since the black weekend at Imola that claimed both Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger in 1994. However, Sunday's incident, as well as others that have seen cars come perilously close to the exposed heads of drivers, has prompted renewed calls for improved cockpit protection. Improving safety, however, is seen by many to come with the side-effect that young drivers will believe themselves to be even more immune to injury, leading to more aggressive actions on track.

An FIA source recently confirmed that the governing body was 'very concerned that some younger drivers have developed a lack of respect for their rivals due to a misplaced belief that the cars are so safe these days that they cannot be injured', and GP2 Series commentator Will Buxton expands on that theory while calling for driving standards to be improved in his latest blog.

"Punishments in F1, no scrap that… punishments in single-seater motor racing need to be far harsher than they are right now," he claimed, "And they need to become clearer and be applied with increased standardisation. From F1 down to entry level Formula Ford, even karting, a racing action of questionable moral standing must have the same regulatory reaction. Inconsistency between categories, and inconsistency even from a race to race basis in an individual category must be stamped out.

"Fernando Alonso and his Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali have both referenced the fact that young GP2 drivers are entering F1 with a different core understanding of racing to the previous generation. They claim GP2 graduates are more willing to take risks, safe in the knowledge that the cars will save them and safe in the knowledge that the worst punishment they will receive is a few grid spots penalty at the next event.

"Sadly, I can't argue with that. It's a view even GP2 drivers have shared with me. Not just that their rivals act this way, but even that they themselves have, at times, pushed just a touch harder than they thought they should because they had no fear of the consequences.

"The only answer, as far as I see it, is to start parking drivers. Just as they have with Grosjean. You want to make a racing driver think about his actions? You want to hit him where it hurts? Don't make his wallet lighter. Don't make him start a few places back down the grid. Just show him how it feels to sit at home and watch a race in which he should be taking part. Let him watch as his replacement steps into HIS car and drives it either better or worse than he could. Let his heart pump fast and strong, let him punch his pillow in frustration, let him scream at the unfairness of it all… from in front of a television. Let him know that a lifetime's dream, a lifetime's dedication will be flushed down the toilet if he doesn't shape up. Take away everything he's worked for. Make him appreciate what he's got.

"And it is something that has to go from the top down.

"It's all too easy to say that GP3 and GP2 drivers get away with terrible moves, when those very same moves aren't punished in F1. Lead by example. Lead from the front. Make an example of the F1 drivers, and make that same example of those in the junior categories, from GP2 and GP3 to WSR, F3, F2, AutoGP… karting.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
27.05.2012- Race, Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams F1 Team FW34 crash
27.05.2012- Race, Start of the race, Crash Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E20 and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes AMG F1 W03
24.06.2012- Race, Crash, Bruno Senna (BRA) Williams F1 Team FW34 and Kamui Kobayashi (JAP) Sauber F1 Team C31
02.09.2012- Race, Start of the race, Crash, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus F1 Team E20
Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
16.07.2017 - Race, The drives observe the national anthem
16.07.2017 - Race, The drives observe the national anthem
16.07.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
16.07.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17 and Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
16.07.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17 leads Kevin Magnussen (DEN) Haas F1 Team VF-17
16.07.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
16.07.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17 leads Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
16.07.2017 - Race, Romain Grosjean (FRA) Haas F1 Team VF-17
16.07.2017 - Race, Bernd Maylander (GER) FIA Safety Car Driver
16.07.2017 - Race, Charlie Whiting (GBR), Race director and safety delegate  and Bernd Maylander (GER) FIA Safety Car Driver

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spud - Unregistered

September 05, 2012 12:42 PM

Race ban for Grosjean is the correct decision but appalled at Maldonado going almost scott free.. I mean 10 places on a fast circuit like Monza can be made up in a quick car in a few laps. Maldonado should have been banned as well.. and banned for more than a race considering he has been involved in much worse incidents than Grosjean.

still grumpy - Unregistered

September 05, 2012 12:56 PM

Mr Buxton is 100% correct in all he says. I started competing in the mid sixties and thus have seen many changes over the years. The current state of 'bad manners' would in the past have been dealt with by fellow competitors behind the scenes but the sport (if it can be called such anymore) is now too overrun with layers of sponsors, team managers, PR consultants, media advisors et al for that to happen. Much though I hate the involvement of stewards for trivial racing incidents, I have been saying for years that the only way to deal with disrespectful and dangerous track brats is to take their toys away. Unless terminally stupid (some are!) they will eventually learn. Having suffered the loss of friends,rivals, and heroes over the years I am very relieved that Snr Alonso is still with us and utterly determined that we cannot be blase about safety. For once maybe the lesson can be learned before a tragedy occurs.

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