di Resta: We all know the dangers
28 October 2011
F1 rookie Paul di Resta says that he will not be thinking about recent tragic events when he climbs aboard his Force India car for this weekend's Indian Grand Prix, and praised the sport's governing body for what it had done to protect drivers in the top flight.
Speaking in the wake of deaths in both IndyCar and MotoGP over the past two weekends, the Scot - who races for local favourite Force India this weekend - admitted that, while he was well aware that he was taking part in a hazardous occupation, he had no fears about getting back into the cockpit for the first time since the sport lost Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli.
"I don't feel in any danger when I'm in the car," di Resta, whose cousin, Dario Franchitti, was a close friend of Wheldon's, insisted, "The FIA has done a great job with safety over the years.
"After things like [the tragedies in Las Vegas and Malaysia], lessons are learned and, as long as we take measures to stop that, that's what I see as going forward. All you can say is that it's tragic what's happened, but we need to keep going. We all know the dangers in the sport."
While there has not been a death in F1 since the black weekend at Imola in 1994 that claimed both Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, there has been a concerted push to continue improving safety in the top flight, with changes made to the cars, circuits and safety equipment. The GPDA frequently makes recommendations on safety matters, not just in the wake of incidents like Felipe Massa's accident in qualifying for the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, but veteran Michael Schumacher admits that not even that can expect to prevent every eventuality.
"To have total safety is impossible, but safety has been hugely improved," the German confirmed, "If you look at new projects like this track [in India], there are huge run-off areas, and there is certainly a high standard of safety. However, if, on top [of that], something happens, then that is what I call fate. And fate is something that we have to face sooner or later. I'm certainly touched by what has happened to the drivers that we have lost, but unfortunately I have to say that that is life."
Sir Jackie Stewart, who campaigned strongly for safety during his time in F1, admitted that F1 had learned from its lessons, but insisted that the sport could never be too careful.
"The corrective medicine is one thing, but the preventative medicine is considerably less expensive and less painful, so we've got to look at that," the Scot said, "F1 is very safe indeed compared to any other form of motorsport, but we can count ourselves very fortunate that we've been so many years without a fatality when you think that the drivers are millimetres apart at times."