A fortnight ago, Formula racing encountered its first death in two decades. Not a single driver had died in a racing-related incident since 2000. So, Anthoine Hubert's, aged 22, demise was unexpected for many. Hubert, a Formula 2 driver, was engaged in a car crash at the 2019 Spa-Francorchamps FIA Formula 2 round when another driver, Juan Manuel Correa, collided with his car at a high speed, tearing it apart. Before the said collision, Hubert had hit the tyre barrier.
Ever since Hubert's death, there have been questions around the sport's safety, and the need for 20 drivers to go around in circles to win a race. While people may despise the game for what it is, the fact is that Formula racing has never been safer. While there has been an improvement in speeds, FIA has not compromised with safety. If anything, the sport's norms have become so constricted that many rue the lack of competitiveness given stiffer standards and penalties.
During the 1950s and 1960s, Formula racing lost more drivers than the next three decades. Instead, in the 1980s, accident-related deaths were four, which is still higher than the last three decades of Formula racing.
Besides technical improvements-Formula cars encounter much less technical failures than before-additional safety measures have been introduced even at the cost of lower speeds. It was only last year that Formula racing introduced the Halo-a driver protection system that consists of a curved bar placed to protect the driver's head. And the Halo has worked well. Last year, it saved Charles Leclerc's, currently racing for Ferrari, life.
As Formula racing enters another decade, with new designs, more changes will undoubtedly be incorporated to ensure even higher safety. While the chances of a crash shall always remain, one should remember no sport is safe. Soccer had five on-field deaths due to collision in the last decade, while cricket had four.