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Modern F1 has lost the 'fear factor' - Davidson

The drive for safety in F1 has inadvertently led to the loss of one of the biggest safeguards of all - a driver's natural fear about the consequences of his actions, says racer and pundit Anthony Davidson.
Anthony Davidson has spoken out against the trend of sanitising all the danger out of modern F1, claiming that it's the 'fear factor' that keeps drivers from going over the limits of their ability.

"They are borderline too safe," said the Sky Sports F1 pundit and sportscar driver at the weekend, talking about the new custom-built tracks that now host Grand Prix events. "On some modern circuits it's pathetic when you see drivers going off the track and nothing happens.

"A driver should be challenged and should be punished for mistakes," Davidson added, speaking with The Guardian on Sunday. "Racing drivers should be heroes."

He was speaking the week after a particularly eventful weekend at Suzuka, one of the old school of circuits largely untouched by the recent drive for massively increased health and safety in Grand Prix events. He drew a comparison between the unyielding Degners and the recently remodelled Copse at Silverstone, which he described as "a ballsy high-speed corner that is not a challenge because you have a massive run-off area of tarmac on the exit."

"The problem is, the safer the circuit becomes the more ruthless the driving becomes," he pointed out. "Today there is such little respect for each others' safety on the track. They feel like they can bang wheels in a straight line, but 'the car is mega-safe, it will take it' is the belief and therefore you get this crazy, almost borderline reckless driving coming into play.

"There has got to be compromise with safety and I feel its just going to far at this stage," he added. "As a driver you have to live with the fact you might die one day. Otherwise you might as well just play computer games."

Not that Davidson wanted to belittle all the essential safety improvements that had gone into the sport over the last two decades since the last in-race fatality in F1, that of Aryton Senna at Imola in 1994. "The FIA have done an incredible job, amazing when you think of where it used to be in the 60s and the 70s," he said. "We don't want to see fans get injured or drivers get injured or killed."

Coming close on the news of the death of Porsche Supercup Championship leader Sean Edwards in a testing accident, Dario Franchitti and Justin Wilson both receiving serious injuries in crashes in the US IndyCar Series this month, and just weeks after Maria de Villota's sudden death as a result of injuries sustained in a 2012 test session for Marussia, it would be easy to dismiss Davidson's claims of motor racing being too safe as ridiculous bravado.

But the 34-year-old has impeccable credentials for knowing what he's talking about on the subject, having survived a huge accident at Le Mans in 2012 and undergoing months of rehabilitation on two fractured vertebrae in his back before he could compete again.

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