Why Joe Saward is wrong on Bianchi aftermath

Joe Saward has just publised an article which refers to people ‘banging on’ about tractors on race tracks. The article reeks of complacency.

Since someone has been nearly killed by hitting a tractor I’m not sure why his tone is so dismissive.

At the risk of ‘banging on’ it is worth reflecting on the fact that Charlie Whiting himself has said the FIA is investigating whether the impact protection on tractors (which is currently non existent) can be introduced.

Objects in harms way on a race track CAN be protected, that’s why tyre barriers, tecpro and SAFER exist.

As Charlie himself said, lorries in Europe have bars to stop cars going underneath, and emergency motorway response vehicles have large deformable impact cushions. Both are possibilities for a tractor on an FIA Category 1 circuit.

It’s even feasible to design and mandate a bespoke removal vehicle specifically for this purpose, designed to absorb impact if struck by a race car.

So with apologies to Mr Saward, whose opinion I usually respect, I’ll reserve the right to go on ‘Banging on’ about safety in motorsport, since people ‘banging on’ and demanding change has led to every safety improvement he now seem to take for granted.


Jules Bianchi’s accident and the risk of complacency

We must hope for good news from those treating Jules Bianchi after his terrible accident.

Those who know appear to say procedures were followed in all respects, that tractors remain a suitable way to remove cars, and that full course safety cars would spoil F1.

And yet we have a driver fighting for his life.

I worry that even the most intelligent and caring F1 commentators may be at risk of complacency in defending the sport they love. Some say the fans should stay out of things, that as armchair observers we cant possibly understand.

But here is the inconvenient truth, no racing series is immune to learning from its mistakes, learning from other series, or learning from scrutiny in the court of public opinion.

SAFER barriers, HANS devices, safety cells, tecpro barriers, dropping Spa and Hockenheim long courses, putting fire extinguishers on board, marshals being told to stay behind fences, extracting drivers in their seats, armco barriers subject to inspection, tarmac runoffs, on board signalling, le mans slow zones – all were born, decided upon, adopted or invented after accidents, many with a fair amount of public opinion behind them.

You can’t just say ‘its just one of those things’ if fans don’t buy it. Drivers burning to death in litres of fuel or being catapulted from their vehicles into trees used to be ‘one of those things’ but the weight of opinion led to positive change.

‘It’s always been this way’ is a blinkered view and does a disservice to those trying to constructively suggest improvements. If half as much effort had been spent designing a purpose built F1 recovery truck with built in impact protection as went into designing blown diffusers or the HANS device we may have had a different outcome. We may avoid another tragedy in the future, if that constructive innovation now happens.

IndyCar on ESPN in UK – Interesting Uptick in Blog Traffic

I’ve just been looking at my blog stats, and in the run up to the first IndyCar race of the season the blog saw a fairly large uptick in traffic. 

And what searches brought them here, well apart from one who searched for “eurovision is like” (no, me either) it was mostly this sort of thing: 

espn uk indycar  
espn indycar online  
indycar 2013 uk tv  
i want to watch indycar but dont want to pay for espn  
indycar on sky  
sky loses indy car  
will bt sports show indy car racing  
is indycar on espnplayer  
indycar 2013 uk tv  
sky indycar  
espn indycar uk  
indycar on sky  
why are sky not showing indy car  
the legend of will power

Sebastian Vettel – He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy

EDIT: I’ve just posted this, only to discover I’m the FIFTH person to use this headline… Speaks volumes!!

May I be permitted to add my thoughts to the festival of awkward that is the Sebastian Vettel overtaking Mark Webber story?

It won’t take up much of your time.

First thought – you’ve messed up pretty bad when even Helmut Marko looks unimpressed and says as much.

Second thought. – Hamilton must be pleased that for once he isn’t the idiot doing something stupid.

Third thought – If I were Webber I’d definitely see how many times I could crash into Vettel over the season (targeting 8 that look plausibly accidental and one deliberate) then retire.

Fourth thought – if I were Christian Horner I’d say ‘It’s him or me’ then leave

Fifth thought – if I were Webber I’d refer to Vettel as ‘my knobhead team mate’ at every press conference til the end of the season and call my car ‘naughty nancy’.

Finally, I’d do anything to be able to go back in time and ensure Eddie Jordan was live in the pit lane to give his instant reaction to the weekend’s events.

It’s been fun though, hasn’t it?

Oh bugger – BT Sport snags UK IndyCar rights

Well, as predicted the other week, (and to be fair it didn’t take a genius since their owners were speaking openly about it) it seems ESPN in the UK is no more.

The company and its rights have been sold for an undisclosed sum to BT Sport, the new range of sports channels which will launch this summer.

You may think that BT, whose brand is a relic of nationalised industry, isn’t the most obvious choice of name for a collection of sports channels. And you’d be right. But when relics of nationalised industry do something, they tend to do it in an awkward, lumbering and predictable way, so BT Sport it is. Don’t look at the new logo, it will only upset you.

I could think of several hundred names that would be more exciting than BT Sport. ESPN for one. But hey, don’t let years of sporting brand goodwill hold you back, just bin the name and replace it with a name redolent of phonecards and long waits for a yellow van to visit and fix your phone line.

It reminds me of the old joke about the poor kids at school. The rich kids had their custom kit bags, Chelsea, Man U, Liverpool, Nike, Adidas, Reebok. The poor kids just had a miserable black and white PVC bag from Woolworths. The word emblazoned on the side in sad looking white letters?


But I digress. My main point, IndyCar fans, is this. Half way through the season, god only knows what is going to happen to the IndyCar coverage.

ESPN for UK IndyCar – a more positive perspective

@tfirth392 has pointed out on Twitter that the ESPN deal for IndyCar in the UK could be available on their ESPN Player online streaming service. This might be a better bet, and it’s already doing a good job for the American Le Mans Series.

Personally I hope it will remain on Sky Sports because I am a Sky subscriber. But for those without Sky, it’s possible that an ESPN player solution would actually be better for more people.

We’ll find out in good time I guess….

IndyCar gives UK TV rights to ESPN UK, Disney announces ESPN UK might close – way to go guys!

IndyCar in their wisdom has given UK TV rights to ESPN just as Disney announce they’re closing it! Couldnt make it up! In my last post I highlighted reasons why a hookup with the lame duck that is ESPN UK was a bad idea but it just gets worse, since it seems the owners of ESPN agree!  [See Digital Spy article]

Not sure whether to laugh or cry really!