Max Verstappen’s trademark aggressive driving style would not have been possible prior to F1’s modern safety revolution, says former McLaren driver Bruno Giacomelli.
Giacomelli, who raced in the sport from 1977-1983 and again in 1990, was discussing the difference between eras with it.motorsport.com when he brought Verstappen up.
“Looking at the results, Schumacher has won seven world championships. Fangio won five, but Fangio won them with different cars and at a time when people were dying, you know what I mean?”
“Do you know what it means to die? It means that Verstappen, if he had driven the 80s cars that I drove, would have died at least three or four times.
“Nowadays drivers are no longer afraid in a Formula 1 car, because they are very safe.”
To Giacomelli’s point, F1 safety standards underwent a significant overhaul after the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix — the year Schumacher won his first title.
And while the propriety of wheel-to-wheel racing remains somewhat subjective, it is no secret that Verstappen has a reputation for pushing the boundaries in his on-track manoeuvres.
At the same time, the modern version of the sport certainly isn’t devoid of danger. F1’s latest fatality was as recent as 2015, when Jules Bianchi was taken off life-support for injuries sustained during the 2014 Japanese GP, while just last year in Formula 2, Frenchman Anthoine Hubert lost his life in a horror crash at Spa.
On his part, Verstappen has defended his driving style on multiple occasions, while it was only a few days ago that his father Jos was talking-up the effect his aggression has on his opponents.