Concerns rising over safety in auto racing

Concerns rising over safety in auto racing
October 17, 2011, 2:30 pm
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From Comcast SportsNet
MILTON KEYNES, England (AP) -- Formula One champion Sebastian Vettel wants motor racing safety improvements following the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, although drivers accept the dangers involved. The Red Bull driver called Wheldon's death a "big loss" but said risks can not be avoided. "The bottom line is what we do might not be the safest so there is always some risk but we are ready to take that into account because we love racing and we love motor sports and it is dangerous," Vettel said Wednesday. The 33-year-old Wheldon, a two-time Indianapolis 500 winner, died Sunday in a fiery wreck at an IndyCar race in Las Vegas. The last F1 driver killed on the track was Ayrton Senna in 1994. Despite some claims that F1 has become "too safe," Vettel stressed that Wheldon's death shows racing should never stop trying to improve safety. "The last couple of years we've had some big crashes and luckily no big injuries or worse than that," the 24-year-old German driver said. "We should never give up on trying to make racing safer in general." Vettel was back at the Red Bull team factory on Wednesday to celebrate becoming the youngest two-time F1 champion. He insisted motivation would not be lacking over the season's final three races as he is three wins away from matching Michael Schumacher's record of 13 victories in a season and two pole positions away from equaling Nigel Mansell's record 14. "It's been an extremely successful year, especially when you start to realize what we have achieved so far and the season is not over yet. Winning the championship with four races to go is something that doesn't happen every day," Vettel said. "(But) if you expect to stay unbeatable then that is the first day you will be beaten." Vettel and his Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the priority now was to ensure teammate Mark Webber finished the season with a race win and second-place in the drivers' standings with the team having already clinched the constructors' championship. Fourth-place Webber trails current runner-up Jenson Button by only 13 points. Vettel said improved maturity made his second title easier than his first -- when he won the last race to edge Fernando Alonso of Ferrari -- and even made mention of a long-term goal of Schumacher's seven career championships. But he quickly backed off from lofty ambitions, too. "I don't really set myself a target for wins, records," Vettel said. "I'm not racing for stats." Vettel clinched the title in Japan and then won the subsequent Korean GP on Sunday, only returning home after that, and to a cold house. "It was quite cold so I put the fire on. I have a problem with the heating," Vettel said of the first thing he did after getting home as two-time world champion.