Is Formula2 tethered to safety or is one of the cheapest series compromising on basics?
That’s the burning question in motorsports circles after the bizarre accident that saw Formula2 driver Henry Surtees die at the Brand Hatch circuit in England on Sunday.
A high-speed crash by another driver — Jack Clarke — saw his tyre fly loose and careen across the track before it slammed into the cockpit of Surtees who later succumbed to injuries caused by the impact.
The moot point is that tires are not supposed to come loose and cannon off the way they are in F2. They are meant to be anchored by tethers to the car chassis.
Earlier in the second round of the championships at Brno, Czech Republic, in June this year a similar mishap was avoided when a wheel had got loose in a crash at the beginning of the race.
When Surtees’ car crashed on Sunday (after he was knocked unconscious by the impact of the errant tyre), his wheel too could be seen flying off from the chassis.
“It seems very strange that the wheels came off like that in the span of a few seconds from two different car crashes. Wheels coming off have not been seen in any Formula in recent times,” says Grand Prix 2 driver Karun Chandhok.
India’s sole entrant in F2 Arman Ebrahim was a bit ahead in the same race.
He vouches that the wheels are tethered.
“It’s very sad but then it’s racing, isn’t it? It was someone else’s crash and he got affected in such a bizarre manner. I think the cars are safe and it was a freak incident,” he said while adding that as a driver it was impossible to mull on such things for too long or else one would never be able to go out there and race again.
At about 200,000 pounds for an eight — round championship in cars that have the same basic specifications, Formula2 is being propped as the series that allows for driver capability to shine through.
But after just four rounds, which have now seen three wheels come off, concerns are fast rising on just how safe it is.
The incident on Sunday may well lead to a penetrating enquiry into the basic safety mechanics of the car.
This will get bigger.