Wheldon and Simoncelli – these have been really difficult times
October 25, 2011
I am just arrived in India. This is my very first visit to this country and I am looking forward to discovering a new venue to race, because that is what I do, that’s my profession and I love racing. However, at the moment all my thoughts are with the families and friends of Marco Simoncelli and Dan Wheldon. It seems that when bad things happen, they come all at once. Because of the time difference between Malaysia and Brazil, I found out about the MotoGP accident as soon as I woke up on Sunday morning when I was at home in Sao Paulo. It is unbelievable and I was in a state of shock afterwards. Simoncelli was such a nice guy and one of the characters in the sport of motorcycle racing and a great talent. Coming so soon after the death of Dan Wheldon, who was a friend of mine, these have been really difficult times and it is just unbelievable that these sad events happened just one week apart. Of course, those of us who race, we always know the risk is there, every time you go out on track. When you are racing, you do not think so much about the risks and you always push hard, sometimes too hard. But all the same, it is still a terrible shock when you see something like that and it reminds you the risk is there. I am not qualified to talk about Simoncelli’s accident, because I have no experience of bike racing, but in the case of Dan’s crash, hopefully the only good thing to come out of it could be that it serves as a wake-up call for Indy cars to improve their safety levels, in the same way that what happened in Imola in ’94 led to increased safety in F1. In my opinion, Indy needs to do a lot to improve safety. There is no point in people complaining about it and blaming others, because what is needed now is some calm analysis and then a response from the sport’s organisation. Maybe what Indy needs to start with, given the type of circuit and the number of cars would be to try running cars with enclosed cockpits, but this is just one idea and the whole safety package needs to be looked at completely.
Korea was my one hundred and fiftieth Grand Prix and almost all of them have been at the wheel of a Ferrari, in fact my hundredth race with the Scuderia should coincide with the final round of the season at home in Interlagos. It’s always great to achieve a nice number like 150 races. I still have some years ahead of me in this sport, as I’m not so old and so I plan to keep pushing to get better results than the one in Korea which did not turn into much of a celebration for my 150th. All the same, I enjoyed driving at Yeongam, almost discovering the track for the first time given how much rain we had there in 2010.
In the preparation for the Grand Prix of India, I spent a day on the simulator to get a general impression of the track and I’ve also got the latest version of the 2011 Formula 1computer game that features this circuit, which means I at least have a feel for it and know where the corners are. First impressions are that it is a nice track and it has some similarities to the last venue in Yeongam, in that it has a long straight and many different types of corner from very fast to very slow hairpins with several changes of gradient too. However, that’s where comparisons to Korea end as it should be much hotter this weekend and also because we will run the Soft and Hard tyres from Pirelli, historically not the ideal choice for the 150º Italia. I hope that we have made some progress in this area and that we can get a good result. Like I said, it will be my first time in India and I love discovering new places, so I am convinced it will be a very interesting week. The Indian people love sport and I am sure there will be a lot of local interest in the Grand Prix, in Formula 1 and in racing in general. I have enjoyed spending a few days here in Sao Paolo with my family, relaxing and training, but now I am keen to get going again, to discover a new circuit and to see if I can secure a good result with just three races left to go this year.