Villeneuve, Schumacher agree on safety changes

Villeneuve, Schumacher agree on safety changes

Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher have not always seen eye to eye on all issues. The two drivers have had run-ins on a few occasions, the most infamous one being a literal run-in at the season ending European Grand Prix at Jerez in 1997,...

Jacques Villeneuve and Michael Schumacher have not always seen eye to eye on all issues. The two drivers have had run-ins on a few occasions, the most infamous one being a literal run-in at the season ending European Grand Prix at Jerez in 1997, when Schumacher turned into Villeneuve in an attempt to knock him out of the race and the championship. However, here in Montreal at the Canadian Grand Prix 2002, there is one issue they totally agree on: safety changes.

FIA Friday press conference: Jacques Villeneuve.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Montreal's Circuit Ile Notre-Dame, and some other tracks, have instituted a basic safety change by replacing many of the gravel traps with asphalt paving. The theory being that a car will slow quicker on the friction on the pavement than it would on gravel, the driver is still able to use his brakes on the pavement, and is also better able to keep control of the car. However, to the ordinary fan, it may look like these changes are being made without any real study, or thoughts about those accidents when cars are airborne and would get a softer landing on the gravel.

Specifically, Alexander Wurz had an upside-down barrel-roll accident in Montreal a few years ago on gravel where there is now pavement. He was completely safe then, what would happen now? Motorsport.com asked both Villeneuve and Schumacher what their opinions were on the issue and if enough study had been done.

Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"From the accidents we have looked at," said Schumacher, "ninety-nine percent of the time the pavement would be better. All the cars have 'black boxes' that record data during an accident, and from this we can see it would be better. Though there are instances it may not be, we have to go with the ninety-nine percent, rather than the one."

Villeneuve agreed. "Upside-down I would rather land on asphalt than sand because if your roll-bar gets stuck in the sand your head will hit, and your head is definitely not as solid as the roll cage of the car. Nine times out of ten it will be safer to have asphalt." He then joked -- though it is also probably completely serious too -- "The only time it is not safer is when you have no wheels attached on your car, and by that time you probably have other troubles anyway."

While Villeneuve and Schumacher have not always agreed on all issues, and the media often like to stir the pot and try to get them to argue or make personal comments on each other, when it comes to some serious issues of racing, they do sometimes agree, and are willing to take the same stand on these issues. Hopefully these safety changes will not be tested out at all, but if they are all F1 fans hope both Villeneuve and Schumacher are correct in their opinions.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Jacques Villeneuve , Alexander Wurz , Eric Gilbert