Michael Bailey: F1 safety first, but respect close behind

It is probably best I pin my colours to the mast immediately. I am a journalist. That means I want to be the one getting – and if not, then hearing – people speak their mind; telling it like it is.

It is probably best I pin my colours to the mast immediately. I am a journalist. That means I want to be the one getting – and if not, then hearing – people speak their mind; telling it like it is.

So for me, Lewis Hamilton's outburst after Sunday's race was clearly heat of the moment stuff, but also fascinating watching.

To sum up, the McLaren man has already spent a bit of time in front of the race stewards this season for a few incidents. And on Sunday, it was Felipe Massa and Pastor Maldonado whose races were ended after clashing with the frustrated Brit.

Two penalties from the stewards followed, leading the 2008 champion in a post-race interview with BBC's Lee McKenzie to call the situation a 'fricking joke' – almost the word favoured by Delia Smith, I hear.


You may also want to watch:


As for reaction to why he has been called to meet the stewards so many times this season, Hamilton added: 'Maybe it's because I'm black. That's what Ali G says… I don't know.'

In reality, it was nothing more than a pretty rubbish joke from a driver feeling the heat.

Most Read

All sports carry emotion. It is exactly why so many people are drawn to them. People let off steam, and that should continue.

However, what Hamilton will have to do is have a think about the incidents themselves.

Both Massa and Maldonado – who in particular was having a really impressive weekend, running sixth for Williams with a handful of laps left – were the victims of Hamilton's eagerness.

It is a shame penalties are needed for what were just racing incidents – and the last thing we need is to arrive at a point where drivers are afraid to go for a gap.

But given precedents had already been set, Hamilton is going to have to pick and choose his last ditch dives up the inside – otherwise his championship challenge will be over for another season spectacularly early.

• OK, so we were all robbed of a thrilling conclusion to Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix thanks to rules some people seemed to be discovering as they went along.

However, the weekend was still an absolute thriller from start to finish.

Spills, mistakes, even overtaking at a venue where we all expect a procession. It was a real treat – the sort only Formula One can provide.

And, especially with the spills, came the emotion. Sergio Perez's accident in Saturday's final qualifying session was by far the biggest of the season, as he seemed to go wide coming out of the tunnel before hitting the Armco and smashing side-on into a safety wall beyond the Nouvelle Chicane.

Perez's Sauber was in pieces, while the Mexican spent the rest of the weekend in hospital – fortunately with nothing more than concussion and bruising. He should be back for the next race, in Canada on June 12.

In the day's first accident, Mercedes man Nico Rosberg had an almost identical incident. However, although he was launched into the air by the chicane's sleeping policemen – which were later removed for the race – before somehow missing the same safety barriers.

That was undoubtedly a blessing, as the German was heading for a head-on collision, rather than sideways: an impact similar to Perez's in that situation simply does not bear thinking about.

There were others too. Vitaly Petrov spent time in a Princess Grace hospital bed with a bruised leg after coming together with Jaime Alguersuari, while Vitantonio Liuzzi also had a nasty accident during Thursday's free practice.

This year's events have led some to question whether Formula One has finally outgrown its most iconic destination. A simple 'not at all' should suffice in reply.

But what the weekend did serve was to remind exactly how these racing stars are putting themselves on the limit in every race, Monaco included.

Friday sees the general release of Senna – the now much-publicised film documentary about Ayrton Senna. He was a six time winner around Monte Carlo and an F1 legend, who died in a terrible accident at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994. On that same weekend, Roland Ratzenberger was also killed as a result of a truly horrific crash.

The two incidents are etched on the memory of all who follow the sport.

Thankfully they are also the only two deaths in F1 since 1987. Just 20 years earlier the fatality rate was shamefully high.

You will never take the danger out of Formula One – it is intrinsically woven into the fabric.

But it can be made as safe as humanly possible – while we will always respect exactly how these speed kings go about their day job.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus