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'Street tracks can be safe'

2008-05-30 11:46
Niki Lauda is calm about the addition of two more city circuits to the 2008 F1 calendar, despite suggestions that the development is a step backwards for driver safety.

The former triple world champion was quoted last weekend at F1's famous street circuit, Monaco, as insisting that car and track improvements mean that the venue can no longer be regarded as really dangerous.

In August and September respectively, Valencia and Singapore will host their inaugural F1 races on similar street tracks.

Lauda noted: "New city courses are designed to the current safety standards.

"They will have, for example, much more run-off than in Monte Carlo," he added.

The 59-year-old legend also sees no problem with simulations that predict the new circuits will boast top speeds in excess of 300kph.

"Yes, but this is not the problem," the Austrian insisted in an interview with motorline.cc.

"To run quickly next to a wall is not in itself dangerous.  The real questions are, 'what is in front?', and 'how fast can I slow down?'

"These cars are always potentially dangerous," Lauda acknowledged, "but it is about the risk.  And of course today it is much lower than in my time."

It emerged this week that the FIA's Charlie Whiting inspected and approved works at the Valencia site.

McLaren test driver and GPDA chairman Pedro de la Rosa is quoted as saying by <i>Spain's El Mundo</i> newspaper: "We do not want more circuits like Monaco, and the information I have is that this circuit will satisfy all the safety measures."

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