How sad that it has taken the tragic death of British indyCar driver Dan Wheldon to force the sport to review its safety measures.
Wheldon, 33, was killed in a horrific 15-car pile up on lap 13 of Sunday’s Las Vegas Indy 300.
There were a number of concerns about track safety before the race began, with Formula 1 legend Jody Scheckter revealing that he has long wanted his son Tomas – who was also involved in the collision – to quit what he has described as “the most dangerous motorsport in the world” because of the speed and number of cars on the track.
Former F1 world champion Nigel Mansell – speaking on BBC Radio 5 live – agreed with Scheckter when he said: “In Indy racing there is simply nowhere to go. When an accident happens you are into the wall in a split second.”
Mansell said: “I heard Jody and he said it well. The smallest mistakes turn into catastrophic ones and Dan was on the receiving end of it.”
Formula 1’s biggest names have paid tribute to Wheldon, including 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton who said: “Dan was a racer I’d followed throughout my career, as I often followed in his footsteps as we climbed the motorsport ladder in the UK. This is a tragic loss at such a young age.
“He was an extremely talented driver. As a British guy, who not only went over to the States but who twice won the Indy 500, he was an inspirational guy and someone that every racing driver looked up to with respect and admiration. My heart goes out to his family and friends during this extremely difficult time.”
Hamilton’s McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, the 2009 F1 champion, said: “I have so many good memories of racing with Dan in the early 90s, a true fighter. We’ve lost a legend in our sport but also a great guy. I can’t begin to imagine what his family are going through and my thoughts are with them at this very difficult time.”
Wheldon’s father Clive said: “The family would like to thank everyone for their overwhelming outpouring of sympathy.
“Daniel was born to be a racer and left us doing what he loved to do.”
Wheldon’s father – speaking alongside the driver’s brothers Austen, 26, and Ashley, 30 – added: “He was a true champion and a gentleman on and off the track. Words cannot describe how much our family will miss him.
“He touched so many and the world is a better place because of Dan.
“He was a proud brother to Austen, Ashley, Elliott and Holly.
“He was a devoted son to Sue and myself and a loving husband to his wife.”