FIA President reaffirms commitment to safety improvements
By Mat Coch
Sunday 20th December, 2020 - 11:08am
FIA President Jean Todt has reaffirmed the governing body’s commitment to ongoing safety improvements while recognising those involved in aiding Romain Grosjean.
A fiery accident on the opening lap of the Bahrain Grand Prix sent shockwaves around the world as Grosjean’s car pierced an armco barrier while being torn in half.
Though he sustained burns to his hands and missed the final two grands prix of the year, Grosjean was able to climb free of an accident that would have likely proved fatal in the recent past.
His escape was aided by marshals and officials, including Dr Ian Roberts who was awarded the Innes Ireland Trophy by the BRDC for his efforts.
“When you see that, you have a kind of a scary expectation,” said Todt.
“Because what you see on the TV, on the screen, the car exploding and (catching) fire, you don’t know what is going to happen.
“When, after very long seconds, which seemed to be like hours, you see a shape coming out of the car then, okay, he’s surviving.”
The FIA President’s comments came as part of the FIA prizegiving ceremony, which saw special awards handed out to the marshals and medical team who aided Grosjean’s escape.
Safety in Formula 1 has improved markedly over the decades.
Five drivers have died as a result of injuries sustained on a world championship grand prix weekend since 1980 (Gilles Villeneuve, Riccardo Paletti, Roland Ratzenberger, Ayrton Senna, and Jules Bianchi).
That compared to 27 from the world championship’s formation in 1950 to 1980.
While safety has improved, risk and the potential for serious injury remains at all levels, a point not lost on Todt.
“It’s something that we’ve discussed periodically at the FIA through (the) special safety group where we are engaging with the special safety department, with the medical commission, with different commissions,” he said.
“We put safety on top of the agenda with the aim ‘vision zero’.
“Unfortunately, I don’t want to say every weekend, but too often and mainly in national championships, national series, you have officials, you have drivers, you have co-drivers who get killed during the event and we want to stop that.
“Of course we speak a lot about Romain Grosjean because it was live all over the world, on TV and it is Formula 1,” he added.
“Of course we feel relieved that he could escape.
“We need to also understand why the car was cut in two pieces, why the fuel tank probably exploded, all that we need to learn as we did after each accident.
“Not only the accidents you see on global media but every accident which happens in motor racing is clearly studied in order to understand from it.
“Of course, it gives a result and that’s why it’s probably the best encouragement to always be more ambitious about what you want to achieve in safety.
“But if you see what has been done over the last decade by my predecessors, by my team, myself, now, it’s very encouraging to go even further to improve safety.”