Two-time world champion Mika Häkkinen believes the FIA made the right call last weekend at Spa when it decided not to proceed with the Belgian Grand Prix.
Appalling weather marked by persistent rain washed out the twelfth round of the 2021 F1 world championship at Spa-Francorchamps, after just a handful of laps behind the safety car.
The debacle left ticket holders in the grandstands and around the track frustrated by the botched race. But Häkkinen, a man familiar and appreciative of safety concerns in F1, was fully supportive of FIA race director Michael Masi’s decision to abort last Sunday’s proceedings.
“We really need to consider what might have happened if a full race had taken place and someone, whether a driver or spectator, had been injured – or worse – as a result,” the Finn wrote in his post-race column for Unibet.
“In that case we would be having a very different discussion about the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix.
“Let me be clear – the FIA and the teams do a really brilliant job to improve safety every year, but Formula 1 remains a fundamentally dangerous activity.
“I nearly lost my life in Adelaide in 1995, so I can speak from personal experience. Also, my first team mate at McLaren was Ayrton Senna. He lost his life just seven months after I made my debut for the team in the 1993 Portuguese Grand Prix.
“That had a really major impact on me and everyone in Formula One.
“Jules Bianchi’s serious accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka ended that safety record. When he died as a result of his injuries in July the following the year a new generation of F1 drivers, team members and fans realised that this sport can be brutal.”
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The consensus was widespread among F1’s drivers over the severity of the conditions and the unfeasibility of racing at Spa.
Häkkinen insists that when unanimity permeates the ranks of F1’s drivers, it must be given the highest consideration.
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“F1 drivers want to race, including in the wet, but when drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso realise that it’s impossible to race, they must to be listened to,” added the 52-year-old former racer.
“We had already seen serious accidents at Spa during the weekend, including a five-car accident in the W Series event and then a really significant accident for Lando Norris in F1 qualifying.
“Both of those accidents were caused by cars losing grip at the famous Eau Rouge corner, one of my favourite corners in racing.
“While I understand that the FIA and Spa have further plans to improve the safety at Eau Rouge and Raidillon, there is nothing that the authorities can do to stop heavy rain.
“They can only look at all the available information and try to make the best decision in the interests of everyone, starting with protecting the lives of competitors.
“I feel extremely sorry for all the fans who attended the event. We have spent 18 months waiting for fans to return to Formula One, so this was really disappointing,” concluded Häkkinen.
“F1 was unable to stage a full race for safety reasons, but as McLaren’s Zak Brown said there will have to be a discussion about how the sport deals with similar events in future.
“From my perspective it’s important that making the right decisions based on the safety of everyone attending a Grand Prix remains the number one priority.”
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