Formula 1 drivers have become more unified as a group in ensuring safety is never compromised again in the wake of Jules Bianchi's crash, claim leading stars Felipe Massa and Felipe Nasr.
Bianchi never recovered from serious head injuries that he suffered when he hit a recovery vehicle during last year's Japanese Grand Prix. He died at the end of last month.
While F1 still comes to terms with his passing, Williams driver Felipe Massa and Sauber's Felipe Nasr both believe the sport responded correctly with changes made – and thinks that drivers are more focused on safety matters.
Nasr told Motorsport.com: “The accident with Bianchi left everybody shaken: the drivers, the category, and the FIA. I think it opened everyone's eyes and made everyone more alert.
“We are always trying to improve F1 in every aspect, and I think the drivers came together even more, since it happened.
“Since the accident a lot of things have changed. The Virtual Safety Car is working, for example.
“Now you can see it at the track for anything, if you have debris or a dangerous situation. The drivers are more aware, they have greater caution when it comes to safety.”
Bianchi repeat ‘impossible’
Massa goes as far as suggesting that the new procedures introduced by the FIA mean there should never be another accident like Bianchi's.
“After the race that killed Bianchi in Suzuka, some things have changed, such as the Virtual Safety Car," he told Motorsport.com. "It is a good idea: as an accident the same as his would be impossible to happen today.”
Fresh driver focus
Massa also believes that the Bianchi accident has unified the drivers more than ever, and given them a great belief that together they can have the power to demand safety changes.
“After the accident, the subject [of safety] came on to the agenda more often,” he said. “Nowadays the F1 cars are safe and importantly, things are done so a stupid accident as happened then does not happen again.”
He added: “The drivers are strong, but the important thing is that ideas come together. A single driver does not have the power to change something important: the important thing is to be in a group and speak the same language.”
Interviews by Felipe Motta