Before the German GP, there was talk of a drivers' boycott following the tyre fiasco at Silverstone. A steel belt came close to hitting Fernando Alonso, never mind the danger to drivers whose tyres had broken. The tyres broke, there is no other word; they did not fail, they broke.
For those of us of a certain age, the threatened boycott revived memories of a time when motor racing was dangerous to the point of irresponsibility. All the time and not just when the FIA want to spice up the show.
Recently I watched a repeat of a BBC TV documentary: 'Grand Prix - The Killer Years'. In essence it went from von Trips (Monza, 1961) to Cevert (Watkins Glen, 1973).
Seeing Lorenzo Bandini, Jo Schlesser, Piers Courage and Roger Williamson being burned alive is not my idea of light entertainment. The tone of the programme, however, was not sensational, but measured. It could have said that drivers who passed the burning cars smelt human flesh being roasted, and they did, rather the programme concentrated on the main issues.
What got me is that I followed motor racing during the period and accepted the horrendous death toll, which included Jim Clark, Chris Bristow, Alan Stacey, Mike Spence, Jo Schlesser, Ludovico Scarfiotti, Piers Courage, Wolfgang von Trips. Jo Siffert, Ricardo Rodriguez, John Taylor. Lorenzo Bandini. Roger Williamson and Francois Cevert.
That list is not comprehensive and does not include drivers from American racing or sports cars (Pedro Rodriguez and Bruce McLaren included) and nor does it include numerous anonymous spectators or drivers like Chris Lambert who died before they reached formula One. It does not include drivers too badly injured to continue, Stirling Moss among them.
Circuits were unnecessarily dangerous. Whatever the reason why Jim Clark left the road, it was a tree that killed him. Even when Armco barriers were erected, there were instances of the holding bolts not being tightened, something that contributed to Jochen Rindt's death.
Organisers did not learn. Before the 1975 Spanish GP, people like Ken Tyrrell walked around the circuit with spanners and socket sets, making the Armco fit for purpose. At least by then there was Armco and not straw bales which have a tendency to burn.
Jackie Stewart was the main force behind reform, but trying to organise the egos which is a typical F1 grid was like herding cats. Organisers did not want to know because safety meant expenditure. Then there was the faction that reckoned that motor racing should be dangerous. The fiercest critic of Jackie Stewart was my mentor, Denis Jenkinson, and we never found common ground on the issue. Jenks was sometimes pretty juvenile in his attacks.
Motor racing was lucky to have Jackie Stewart, for six years he was the undisputed world number one and so could not be criticised for losing his bottle or for sour grapes. He had authority like nobody else.
I once heard a multiple Grand Prix winner of the period boast that he had faced the dangers with the implication that others should as well. He was able to say that because he had survived, and luck had played a part in that. If you are trapped under a car with no help to hand, I would say that it is luck that another car comes off at the same corner and knocks your car off you without hitting yourself.
Marshals are now trained and wear protective clothing. It was at the urging of Jackie Stewart that drivers donated old Nomex suits to marshals. When I first became a marshal in 1959, aged 16, I was given a cardboard armband and that was it. I would like to claim that I had special powers, or even a basic knowledge of first aid, but I was a teenager who got the gig because I had volunteered.
In 1973, when Roger Williamson was burned alive during the Dutch GP, a lot of money had been spent on improving the circuit, but no attention had been paid to the marshals. Another driver, David Purley, reached Williamson before a marshal did and David had to shout for a fire extinguisher.
The immensely talented Tom Pryce died during the 1977 South African GP when a teenage marshal ran across the track with a fire extinguisher to render aid to a car that was merely stationary.
There were Grands Prix when the primary medical care was in the hands of nuns. Not nuns chosen because they were qualified doctors or trained nurses, but nuns chosen because they were nuns.