The motorsport world has lost another driver. Just six weeks after Formula 1’s Jules Bianchi succumbed to serious head injuries after a freak accident with a crane, IndyCar and ex-F1 driver Justin Wilson lost his life after being struck on the helmet by flying debris – a front wing from a crashed car.
There was a time when death was merely an occupational hazard on the race track. While the element of risk has always been present in motorsport, the last couple of decades have seen the sport become safer and safer. So much so, that some drivers have gone through entire careers without seeing a colleague be seriously injured – or worse – on the track.
Arguably that makes the modern generation of drivers complacent. The risks are far lower than they were even in the 1980s but, as we have seen, they are still very much there.
Engineers and rule-makers should be applauded for the advances in all-round safety, from karting to Formula 1, from Formula Renault to IndyCar. But sometimes a freak accident that cannot be foreseen occurs and results in tragedy.
It is too soon to come out with hasty solutions to prevent this kind of accident happening again. Two of the world’s biggest racing series – F1 and IndyCar – have been hit by tragedy this year, and one expects the respective powers-that-be to draw lessons.
Thoughts and prayers go to Justin Wilson’s family and friends.