F1 "dodged a bullet" with Sainz's accident

Williams performance chief Rob Smedley believes that Formula 1 dodged a bullet as Carlos Sainz escaped uninjured from his high-speed crash at the Russian Grand Prix.

Sainz was airlifted to hospital for precautionary checks after his car smashed head first into the barriers following a brush with the wall during the final free practice session.

But although he was not hurt in the crash, F1 figures are concerned about the way that Sainz's Toro Rosso ended up under the TecPro barriers.

Smedley says the incident was alarming and shows that even more work is needed to improve safety.

"It was very scary seeing all the TecPro barriers sat on top of the car," explained Smedley.

"As we know with all the tragic incidents that we have had over the last couple of years, either near misses or fatalities, it is the exposure of the drivers' head that is the main thing that we need to work on.

"Obviously as the car slides under the TecPro barriers, then your first thought is that I hope they haven't gone inside the safety cell. Thankfully they didn't, it looked like they did slide over.

"The safety cell did what it should have done and they have slid over the top of the car. So I think we definitely dodged a bullet there.

"But the car shouldn't have gone under the barriers, absolutely not. That is not what is supposed to happen.

"That is disconcerting to watch, but the main thing he is alright."

No perfect nose height

The low nose designs of current F1 cars will have contributed to the Toro Rosso forcing the TecPro barriers over the car, but Smedley says that a simple response is not to make the designs higher.

He is well aware that there is no single safety solution that will be perfect for every type of accident.

"Whatever you do, you will find a freak situation like we found today that will circumnavigate all the safety work that we have put in place and tried to implement," he said.

"Whatever you do, you will find those situations and we can never be 100 per cent safe. Motor racing is a dangerous sport, a dangerous occupation for the drivers, and we know that.

"So I think you can argue [for the noses] to go up, you can argue [for them] to go down – but there will always be something that catches you out."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Event Russian GP
Track Sochi Autodrom
Drivers Carlos Sainz Jr.
Teams Toro Rosso
Article type Breaking news