Force India driver Paul di Resta feels safe in Formula 1

Indian Grand Prix

Venue:
Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida
Date:
28-30 October
Timings:
Friday 28 October: Practice one - 0530-0700 BST; Practice two - 0930-1100. Saturday 29 October: Practice three - 0630-0730; Qualifying - 0930-1030. Sunday 30 October: Race - 0930
Coverage:
BBC One coverage of qualifying and race, Radio 5 live and 5 live Sports Extra coverage of all sessions. Live video, audio and text coverage of all sessions on the BBC Sport website
Force India driver Paul di Resta

Force India driver Paul di Resta insists Formula 1 is safe despite motorsport being rocked by two on-track deaths in the last two weeks.

British IndyCar racer Dan Wheldon died following an accident in Las Vegas while Italian Marco Simoncelli died at Sunday's Malaysian MotoGP.

"I don't feel in any danger when I'm in the car," said Di Resta ahead of Sunday's Indian Grand Prix.

"The [governing body] FIA has done a great job with safety over the years."

Motorsport has been shocked by the deaths which came on successive Sundays with Red Bull driver Mark Webber writing in his BBC column: "To have two crashes like this in one week has obviously put the focus on safety."

There has not been a fatality amongst F1 drivers since Brazil's triple world champion Ayrton Senna died at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, Austrian Roland Ratzenberger having died in qualifying a day earlier.

The traumatic events of that weekend saw F1's legislators begin sweeping rule changes aimed at making the cars safer.

Triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart told BBC Sport at India's Buddh International Circuit that the recent accidents could act as a similar "wake-up call" to IndyCar and MotoGP.

"The corrective medicine is one thing but the preventative medicine is considerably less expensive and less painful so we've got to look at that," said Stewart, who was influential in improving F1 safety during his racing career in the 1960s and 70s.

"F1 is very safe indeed compared to any other form of motorsport. But we can count ourselves very fortunate that we've been so many years without a fatality when you think that the drivers are millimetres apart at times."

Mercedes' Michael Schumacher, who won the race in which Senna died, also stressed the improvements in driver safety.

"To have total safety is impossible, and F1 is the quickest motor racing sport around the world, but safety has been hugely improved," the seven-time world champion said.

"If you look at new projects like this track there are huge run-off areas, and there is certainly a high standard of safety.

"If on top something happens then that is what I call fate. And fate is something that we have to face sooner or later.

"I'm certainly touched by what has happened to the drivers that we have lost, but unfortunately I have to say that that is life."

Hamilton's McLaren team-mate Jenson Button spent the early part of his racing career competing against Wheldon in karting and believes his former rival leaves behind a legacy of improved safety.

"Our cars are a lot more expensive and there is a lot more money spent on the crash tests," said Button.

"Dan put a lot of effort into developing the new car for the future of IndyCar and for safety reasons it is greatly improved.

"A lot of his efforts going into that will hopefully save the lives of a lot of other drivers."

Di Resta called for the whole of motorsport to continue improving safety in light of the recent accidents.

"After things like that, lessons are learned and as long as we take measures to stop that, that's what I see as going forward," said Di Resta.

"All you can say is that it's tragic what's happened but we need to keep going. We all know the dangers in the sport."

Di Resta's cousin Dario Franchitti was driving in the race when Wheldon died and went on to claim a third series title when the event was abandoned.

Di Resta doesn't expect Franchitti, 38, to retire but he revealed that the accident had given him pause for thought.

"It's hurt him," Di Resta added. "Dan was a very close friend.

"I know that Dario is out testing the new car at Sebring [Florida] this week and he has said in interviews that it has made him think - only time will tell. If he wants to continue we'll support that decision."

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