Monza: Four-time Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel insisted on Thursday that the sport has to make safety its top priority even at the risk of making the racing boring, in a stark message to his sport’s ruling bodies following the death of Anthoine Hubert.
Speaking to reporters ahead of this weekend’s Italian Grand Prix, his Ferrari team’s historic home race at the Monza ‘Temple of Speed’, Vettel’s plea came as F1 considers an enlarged race calendar in the aftermath of Hubert’s death in a F2 crash in Belgium last weekend.
“These last years have been a wake-up (call) with the passing of Jules (Bianchi) and now Anthoine. “It shows that there’s still things (to do)… even if some people think it’s too safe and boring.”
Vettel distanced himself from any narrative of the past that suggested the inherent dangers of his sport, as often packaged in a romantic defence of the risks, remained acceptable.
He said the time had come to set aside the vision of racing drivers as latter-day gladiators, defying death on a regular basis.
“On Saturday and obviously Sunday, coming to the race track and driving the race –- to some extent, it’s a part of motorsport. It is dangerous. It’s part of the thrill,” he said.
“But I think there are still things we can do better, that we must improve — that we must work on.
“Because, I would rather have boring Formula One championships to the end of ever.”
Vettel acknowledged the majesty of traditional circuits like Spa-Francorchamps, where French driver Hubert lost his life, and the high-speed Monza.
He wants to return and race at the Ardennes circuit, the scene of many high-speed accidents with a history punctuated by fatalities.
“I’m a fan of holding races in Spa because it’s a great track and has a great history. A lot of the corners are very unique,” he said.
“But, for sure, after what happened, we have to have a very close look and take some time to understand exactly what happened before we draw any conclusions.”