Newey is concerned that new rules make Formula 1 more dangerous

Adrian Newey speaks to media during day one of testing at Jerez

Adrian Newey speaks to media during day one of testing at Jerez

Formula 1’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 – 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 that suggests [that] 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.

Lewis Hamilton crashed on the first day of Jerez testing

Lewis Hamilton crashed on the first day of Jerez testing

“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.”

He was speaking to reporters before Lewis Hamilton suffered a technical problem and speared his Mercedes into the Jerez tyre wall. The 2008 Champion walked away unscathed.

At the Valencia race, Australian Webber clipped the rear wheels of Kovalainen’s car and took off almost vertically, flipping and landing with both drivers emerging almost miraculously unscathed.

The sport has seen several near-miss incidents since then of cars flying over the top of others, notably Frenchman Romain Grosjean’s Lotus skimming over Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari in Belgium in 2012.

Romain Grosjean gets airborne at the start of the 2012 Belgian GP

Romain Grosjean gets airborne at the start of the 2012 Belgian GP

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.

“It was done on safety grounds but I’m not quite sure why putting a battery under the fuel tank is safer than putting it behind the engine but that’s where we are,” said Newey.

“These batteries can suffer thermal runaway through impacts, through causes which are difficult to predict,” continued the man whose cars have won the last four Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships.

Pit lane fire marshals might be busier than normal in 2014

Pit lane fire marshals may be busier than normal in 2014

“Once they go into such a big battery pack then it’s very difficult to control that fire. Frankly [it will be a case of] put it in the pitlane and watch it burn [itself out].”

While that might not be a driver safety issue, with plenty of advance warning of such a problem, Newey said that it remained a danger for others.

“For the whole of the pitlane, safety is a big challenge with these cars,” he added.

F1 tightened up pit lane safety last season after a cameraman was hit on the head by a bouncing wheel that came off Webber’s Red Bull at the Nurburgring. (Reuters)

Subbed by AJN.

  • fools

    It was done on safety grounds but I’m not quite sure why putting a battery under the fuel tank is safer than putting it behind the engine but that’s where we are,” said Newey.
    ——————————————————————————–

    Sounds like a ticking time bomb waiting to happen. I surely hope that will never be the case. However the KERS system even without turbo (see Williams) has gone onto fire with little details mentioning what actually caused the issue. These new turbos will be running more then 50 laps a race. 80’s turbo era if we learned anything was already indeed dangerous during a time with the unknown. Advance 30 years and F1 still hasnt changed in terms of safety. Step it up FIA!

  • Hugo

    Of course Newey’s right. FIA rules makers are idiots.

  • sarahsdadjeff

    Mark Webber commented after the Heiki incident ” These things happen, this is Formula 1″

  • 34

    It’s obvious that he would say that.

    Newey is an air genious, he needs air to the rear of the car to work his magic. = high nose

  • 35

    hey 34 ,,,right with you!!! You hit the nail right on the head!!!!
    Who,s he trying to BS??? Comes down to his aero design isn,t as effective…Hope Red Bull struggles !!!
    Cars should be perfectly flat underneath,, nose to tail so it takes driver skill to control it…Not be sucked down onto the track and ride like on rails..Then which driver IS the best,,not which car..
    Always hated the look of those cars with noses up in the air!

  • delfino

    And so the whining and moaning from RB begins…

  • Matthew

    @delfino
    You mean the facts and opinions from the team that crushed everybody easily last year right? Some people…

  • bobw

    delfino-If you knew anything about physics and battery construction you could appreciate that Newey is not whining but rather expressing legitimate concerns. These same batteries were pulled from aircraft because they are a fire danger.

  • 7

    The question is why bring this up on car launch day not when they were given those instructions. It’s a bit like closing/shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted. If they are to change the location of the battery it’s gonner cost them.

  • Marybeth

    I thought the same thing. It looks like a ramp.

  • the fan

    the funny thing is that these rules are changed to make the sport more competitive, in this case the sport is not competitive enough due to the dominance of one team in the last 4years.

  • RBC

    Newey has a long history of complaining about safety which turns out to be a change in the rules that benefit Red Bull.

  • WestMclarenMercedes

    Red Bull whining about regulations have started 5 months earlier than usual. SHOCKER!

  • James

    Newey says only a fraction of the truth. As others have said in the previous comments, this regulation puts RB at a disadvantage and therefore he speak up, in hope that the regulations will be altered. Just like last year, after the opening races…

    In my opinion, the nose shape won’t pose any problem, because the car itself is much slower, therefore reducing the chance of collision in the first place. So the unsafe design is offset by slower speed.

  • the fan

    actually those who are whining about the FIA or the rule changes and saying they are done with formula 1 are the ones who comments nonstop in these forums… classic!

  • Klaus Kapitza

    no chance to publish a comment.

  • Klaus Kapitza

    I´am so sorry for you,Mr.Newey.You were asked to design a Formula 1 and not a Formula-NEWEY car.You should be happy that your proposal is not the ugliest (Caterham) on the grid.