Ex-Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa has weighed in on IndyCar safety standards following recent major accidents in both series.
The Brazilian, who was seriously injured when struck in the head by debris at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, posted on his Twitter account in support of F1’s Halo after the safety device appeared to help mitigate the damage when Fernando Alonso’s McLaren landed on top of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber in a crash at the start of Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix.
However he subsequently used the social media platform to fire a broadside at IndyCar, which is still studying data from Robert Wickens’ huge accident at Pocono two weeks ago.
“When you see all the accidents that happen in F1 and IndyCar in the last years, we can say that F1 is always trying to improve with (Halo, track changes, virtual safety car etc to improve safety) and IndyCar is not doing much…” he tweeted.
“It’s unbelievable to see a circuit like Pocono, average speed around 360km and you see the walls lower like that, with the fences, so so dangerous for the safety!!! Sorry to say that, but they need to look for the safety of the drivers.”
Among those to respond to Massa’s comments was Graham Rahal, who issued a series of tweets in response.
“It’s a little easier to do things when your budget is 100s of millions a year, new chassis every year built in house etc.,” he wrote. “IndyCar is working hard, the new windscreen will not only work as well (better from the standpoint of no open areas) but will be far more aesthetically pleasing!
“For oval racing you need 100% unobstructed views, Halo wouldn’t provide that to us. Also note frontal open areas would still allow debris into get in the cockpit, new windscreen will not.
“Let’s not also forget the HUGE impact that IndyCar and our doctors such as Dr. [Terry] Trammel have had on F1. In fact, last time I checked when many of them get injured they STILL come to the U.S. to see Dr. T! IndyCar has done a hell of a lot for international motorsports safety!”
Speaking on the eve of last weekend’s race at Gateway, IndyCar competition boss Jay Frye said that initial investigations of Wickens’ car had indicated that the onboard safety devices had performed as expected. Meanwhile, Tony Cotman, who sits on the FIA Circuits Commission, told RACER last week that the Pocono fence had successfully performed its main purpose of keeping Wickens’ car contained within the track perimeter, however Frye said that IndyCar is continuing to look at whether fence design can be improved.