Formula One’s 2014 regulations may have made the sport more dangerous rather than improving driver safety as intended, Red Bull’s title-winning technical wizard Adrian Newey said on Tuesday.
The Briton, who designed the Williams that Brazilian triple champion Ayrton Senna died in 20 years ago as the sport’s last driver fatality, voiced his fears at the start of pre-season testing in southern Spain.
Newey warned that the cars’ lower noses, already a talking point because of their ugliness, could lead to a driver’s head being more exposed in certain impacts such as front to rear collisions.
“The regulation has been introduced following some research by the FIA (governing body) that suggests the lower nose height reduces the chances of the car being launched, such as the accident Mark (Webber) had when he hit the back of (Heikki) Kovalainen (in Valencia in 2010),” said Newey. “I must admit I am concerned the opposite may happen — that cars submarine effectively.
“If you hit the back of the car square on, then you go underneath it and you end up with the rear crash structure in your face which is a much worse scenario,” said Newey. “For me, it’s introduced more dangers than it’s cured.”
Newey also questioned the repositioning of batteries for the new ERS energy recovery systems which he said could overheat and trigger uncontrollable blazes with consequent danger for those in the pitlane.
Batteries now have to be positioned in front of the engine and under the fuel tank.