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'I feel safer in F1' - Webber

ESPNF1 Staff
October 20, 2011 « Haug wants Mercedes stability | Doubts over the future of Korean Grand Prix »
Mark Webber says "you don't think about the negative stuff" once he's in the car © Sutton Images

Mark Webber says he feels safer racing in Formula One than he would in IndyCar, rallying or MotoGP.

British IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon was killed on Sunday after a multiple car pile-up in Las Vegas. The incident has caused criticism from a number of drivers who question the safety of racing with 34 cars at such high speeds on a 1.5 mile oval. With Formula One boasting an improved safety record since Ayrton Senna's death in 1994, the FIA has been called in to help investigate the crash, and Webber wrote in his BBC column that the nature of the racing in IndyCar was "too much".

"I've never raced on an oval track but I've spoken to a lot of the guys who have," Webber said. "One thing they don't like is the element of pack racing, especially on a short oval such as Las Vegas. Running three wide on a track like that is not really racing. You're just getting a slipstream. Drivers look to move into a different lane - from the top to the bottom of the track, say - and things can happen.

"At certain speeds, that is fine and no-one gets badly injured. But when you're doing 220mph in an open-wheeler, the cars can leave the ground by five or six metres and someone's going to get seriously hurt. To have 30-odd single-seaters, nose to tail, with cold brakes; it's too much. Drivers feel this needs looking at. In the accident that killed Dan, nearly half the field were running together and half of them ended up in the air. That's not right."

Webber also said that the impact on Formula One had been major, but explained that he feels safer racing in F1 than in many other strands of motorsport, both open-wheel and not.

"The crash affected a lot of people - you may have seen the footage of Dario, for example, sobbing in his car afterwards - and the public often wonder why racing drivers carry on after incidents like this. I've had my share of bad accidents. Two Mercedes sports cars flipped on me in three days at Le Mans back in 1999. In the second of those shunts, I did think for a split second that I probably wasn't going to make it.

"I'm sure you will have seen my accident in Valencia last year, too, when I took off after hitting the back of Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus. The car landed upside down before skidding into the barriers the right way up. But safety has come on a long way in F1 and it's a different type of racing to IndyCars anyway. Don't get me wrong, I know there are risks. Valencia could have gone either way for me, that's completely clear. But I feel it's safer than IndyCars. Or rallying or MotoGP, for that matter. That gives me confidence to race."