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Coulthard expresses F1 test safety concerns

NEWS STORY
12/05/2005

Red Bull veteran, David Coulthard, has expressed his concern at the poor safety standards usually found during private testing.

The Scot, a leading light in the Grand Prix Drivers Association (GPDA), told Autosport magazine that there is genuine concern amongst his fellow drivers with regards the lack of safety at tracks where the F1 teams are testing.

"There is a real concern within the GPDA to look at how we can go about improving safety standards in testing. We feel that there is no reason to have a distinction between when we go grand prix racing and when we go testing. The speeds are the same, the tracks are the same, but the safety standards are not," he said.

The former WilliamsF1 and McLaren star revealed that some tracks were staffed by a lone (unpaid) marshal on each corner, equipped with a fire extinguisher: "That's not really acceptable," he said.

"We're running more laps than ever and that leads to fatigue in the driver and within the team," he admitted. "And testing, by its very nature, relies on cars using previously untried components and tyre developments. They are bound to be more prone to breakages.

"Speaking for myself, I know that all my biggest accidents have happened in testing," he added.

In all honesty, and though it is good to hear the GPDA actually speak out over what is a highly valid point, many of the worst accidents have happened during test sessions, Coulthard's comments raise another vital question, marshals.

These are the people without whom F1, indeed motorsport, could not function, yet their contribution to the sport is not only taken for granted, at some venues, and particularly during a Grand Prix weekend, they are treated with utter contempt.

With so many people earning so much from motorsport, perhaps it is high time that those involved began showing their appreciation of these stalwarts, who only seem to make it into the headlines when being abused by prima donna drivers, or getting killed.

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