Coulthard: Danger will always be part of F1

David Coulthard believes that danger will always be a core part of Formula 1, despite likely renewed safety efforts in the wake of Jules Bianchi's death.

Bianchi died in a French hospital having never recovered from the serious head injuries he suffered in a crash at last year's Japanese Grand Prix.

The lessons learned from his incident with a recovery vehicle have already resulted in safety tweaks - with increased cockpit protection and a Virtual Safety Car system being introduced.

Despite a never-ending push to improve safety, former F1 driver Coulthard says that high risk remains core to Grand Prix racing.

"F1 is about pushing the limits of human ability," he told the BBC. "That is a big part of its appeal to millions of people around the world.

"Some people are just wired that way, to be competitive, to push beyond where most others will go.

"Others watch for myriad reasons - because the racing is exciting, or because they admire what the people involved are doing, and understand what it means and - let's accept it - because they know what's at stake."

An F1 wake-up call

Coulthard says that Bianchi's crash has served as a harsh reminder about the big risks involved in racing.

"In the 21 years I have been hanging around grand prix tracks, safety has improved considerably - to the point where people are now asking whether the sport has been sanitised so much that the perception of danger has been reduced too far.

"As Bianchi's accident proved, the danger is still very much there. 

"It happened at one of the older race tracks, in the most challenging circumstances - wet weather, fading light, on a very demanding corner, over a blind brow.

"There is less risk of that happening at one of the newer, flatter tracks, with vast run-off areas. But unquestionably the drivers would say there is less pleasure in driving there than at Suzuka."

He added: "That's not because they think for one minute that the possibility of death should be part of the challenge.

"It's because the consequences of a mistake are much greater. Instead of running wide and rejoining the track, they could damage the car, even have a crash. And even if you are 'uninjured' in a crash, believe me, they all hurt.

"It is the difference between putting 50p on a roulette wheel and £50,000. 

"The bigger the competition, the higher the stakes, the greater the satisfaction.

"Therein lies the fundamental conflict - and appeal - at the heart of F1."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jules Bianchi
Article type Breaking news
Tags coulthard, danger, safety