Honda website
Honda website

JANUARY 13, 2001

Safety is the biggest thing, but could ruin sport, says Lauda

NIKI LAUDA has said that safety is the most important aspect of Formula One but warned it could ruin the sport's popularity.

Former Ferrari driver Lauda, a three-time world champion, presented a lecture on the safety issues in Formula One at the Autosport International, but insisted grand prix racing could descend into farce because of it.

"After the death of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger it is good that nothing serious has happened," Lauda said. "The improvement has come because of carbon-fibre monocoques.

"In my day the cars were made out of aluminum but now the chassis just breaks into pieces and prevents any serious injuries. Technology has helped improve safety magnificently."

Lauda believes that the safety improvements made to the cars, and more so to the circuits with chicanes added to bring average speeds down, will hit the popularity of Formula One because he claims spectators want to see overtaking.

"Formula One is going in the right direction," he said. "But the FIA need to watch closely because if the rear-wing of the cars is not changed we will get no overtaking at all.

"Aerodynamics are key to overtaking and unless something is done, nobody will be passing anybody else. Fans want to see exciting races and without overtaking it is pretty dull."