MotoGP has always been a fast paced sport, rivalling F1 for excitement and speed. However the heightening of emotions and enjoyment can often come at a cost. Over the years Moto GP and F1 have been questioned over their safety measures. The death of Moto GP’s Marco Simoncelli raised questions about the sport’s safety.
Since the death of Ayrton Senna in San Marino in 1994, F1 have tightened their rules and safety precautions to prevent any further deaths. Ayrton Senna’s death paved the way for safety standards to increase, resulting in improved crash barriers, higher crash safety standards and major cuts to engine power. Since 1994 there have been no deaths in F1. This begs the questions whether MotoGP need to match F1’s safety precautions, as two drivers have died in MotoGP in the last ten years.
During the second lap of the Mayalsian Grand Prix, Marco Simoncelli collided with two other riders causing his bike to swivel and lose control. Simoncelli then suffered severe injuries to his head and neck that lead to his death. Macro Simoncelli’s death was the first since Daigiro Katoh in 2003 – who died in his home country at the Japanese Grand Prix.
Inherently both sports are dangerous. Travelling around a cornered track at high speeds in a vehicle reaching speeds of over 200mph, it doesn’t represent the safest of sports. Furthermore there is a selection of drivers/riders all competing for a winning spot on the podium. But could the recent death of Marco Simoncelli have been avoided? What safeguards need to be in place to prevent further deaths? Meticulous bike valuation to cap engine power? Revision of the tracks? Or was Simoncelli’s death a tragic accident?
Although Marco Simoncelli obviously enjoyed the adrenalin rush that Motosport brings, he was also passionate about the importance of safety. Marco Simoncelli was mostly known for his charisma but his intelligence shone through in meetings at the safety commission. Known for his afro and funny antiques he also offered intelligent, sensible suggestions. It’s just a bitter irony that his life had to end in that specific way. Many have stated that his death was unavoidable. F1 legend Michael Schumacher claimed that even though his death was heart-breaking it was mostly down to chance rather than the organisation’s indifference towards safety.
Safety has always been important to MotoGP and even to the late MotoGP driver. So precautions are in place but with such a fast pace sport it’s sometimes inevitable that something tragic may happen.