MONZA, Italy (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel said he would put up with an eternity of boring races if it brought back Anthoine Hubert, the young French Formula Two driver who was killed in Belgium last weekend.
The German, a four-times world champion with Red Bull, told reporters at the Italian Grand Prix that Formula One still had work to do on safety even if danger would always be part of the attraction.
“I think we all had our moment on Saturday and obviously Sunday, going to the race track and driving the race but to some extent it’s part of motorsport. It is dangerous, it’s part of the thrill,” he said.
“But certainly obviously the last years have been a wake-up with the passing of Jules (Bianchi) and now Anthoine.
“It shows there are still things, even if people think it’s too safe and boring, (that) we can do better, we must improve, we must work on, because I’d rather have boring Formula One championships to the end of ever and bring him back.”
Hubert, 22, died at Spa-Francorchamps after his crashed car was hit at speed by that of Ecuadorian-American driver Juan Manuel Correa, who remains in hospital with leg injuries.
It was the first driver fatality at a Formula One race weekend since Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna and Austrian Roland Ratzenberger died at Imola in 1994.
Frenchman Jules Bianchi, who suffered serious head injuries at the Japanese Grand Prix in October 2014, succumbed to his injuries in hospital the following July.
Formula One introduced the ‘halo’ head protection system after Bianchi’s death.
Safety, always a key consideration, has been thrust back to the front of the debate since Hubert’s accident with some former drivers suggesting a younger generation reared on race simulators and esports were taking too many risks.
There has also been concern expressed that asphalt runoffs allow drivers to take more risks than if gravel traps, which might also prevent a car from bouncing back on track after a crash, were installed.
Vettel’s team mate Charles Leclerc, the 21-year-old who took his first F1 victory in Belgium and was a friend and former rival of Hubert, is part of the younger generation and he said he was well aware of the dangers.
“Any time you go at that speed it will always be dangerous,” said the Monegasque. “But sometimes it’s obviously a shock when something like this happens.”
Five-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton told reporters he disagreed with the view that simulators had reduced a driver’s sense of fear.
“If you look at kids on the ski slopes, from small up they’ve got no fear and it’s the same with us racing drivers whatever our age,” said the Mercedes driver.
“Maybe it creeps in when you get much older but the simulator isn’t making you more fearless.”
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge