FIRST F1 DEATH SINCE SENNA: Marussia driver Jules Bianchi shortly before his crash at the 2014 Japanese GP. He died in France nine months later. Image: AP / Toru Takahashi
PARIS, France - Formula 1 is pressing ahead with safety advances as the sport mourns the death of former Marussia driver Jules Bianchi.
Bianchi's death, following a nine-month coma caused by a crash during the 2014 Japanese GP, was the first for a race driver since Ayrton Senna in 1994.
It is a stark reminder of the danger in motor racing, even though some believe F1 in particular has lost some of its spark because it is now “too safe”.
F1 STILL DANGEROUS
F1 legend Niki Lauda had this to say to Bild am Sonntag newspaper: "In this sad moment we must not forget the most important thing. It's a miracle - and I stress, a miracle! - that in the last 21 years nothing like this has happened.
"You can see how much was done for safety but, in the end, there are 20 cars driving around as fast as 340km/h.”
Crucially, before they began to mourn the loss of Bianchi, it was known that the talented Frenchman's family was critical of the circumstances surrounding the crash, and was not ruling out legal action.
READ: Drivers react to Jules Bianchi's death
Another F1 legend, four-times F1 champion Alain Prost, told French digital television I-Tele that the sport had key lessons to learn from the crash at Suzuka in October 2014.
Prost said: “I say now what I said then - I have not changed my opinion. I think it is necessary to speak only about a few small miscalculations of the situation, with consequences for which we pay dearly.
"We are talking about an crash in pouring rain and with very poor visibility. It was necessary to release the safety (pace) car to neutralise the race before allowing this truck on the track. That was a mistake.
“I know the investigation found something else."
'NO FATAL CRASH IN 21 YEARS'
He was referring to the official finding that Bianchi was driving too fast for the yellow flags but insisted: "So much has been done for safety on the race tracks, which we can see in that we have had no fatal crash in the last 21 years."
Another former F1 driver and Frenchman, Patrick Tambay, told RMC: "These questions about the circumstances of the accident should reappear once the emotions are past but F1 is like this, with drivers doing their races as quickly as possible, as it is in their genes.
"The timing was unfavourable and some mistakes were made but it is useless to argue about it now. Today I want to remember him and think only about this loss."
Meanwhile, the publications Bild and Auto Motor and Sport reported that another legacy of Bianchi's death would be a new high-speed camera soon to be installed to F1 cars.
The reports say a camera, half the size of an iPhone, is being developed by Magneti Marelli to record in unprecedented slow-motion detail how a drivers' head is subjected to impacts.
As for the official video of Bianchi's crash, German newspaper Die Welt claimed, that would remain "forever under wraps" by the International Automobile Federation.
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