Adrian Newey, Red Bull Racing’s chief technical officer, has expressed his deep concern and anguish over the tragic accident at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sunday which resulted in the death of British racing hero, twice Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
During the 1980s Newey was one of the most innovative engineers on the Indycar scene, honing a respected reputation for high speed aerodynamic savvy and original thinking.
But the man behind Sebastian Vettel’s domination of the last two F1 world championship campaigns has admitted that he is personally troubled by the set of circumstances which led to the Wheldon accident.
Adrian Newey designed the March 85C Indycar
“Certainly in my case, to have been in charge of the design of the car where the driver lost his life, there would be something wrong with you if you did not question what you were doing at that point,” he told the Daily Telegraph.
“In the four years I did Indycars I was fortunate enough that there were no tragic accidents and nobody was really badly hurt. But fundamentally if you are racing around an oval with concrete walls and lots of cars going at very high speeds in close proximity, it is going to be a recipe for large accidents – particularly with open-wheel cars.”
2012 Indycar has fairings around rear wheels
The problem, of course, is to decide whether one changes the entire fabric of US-style oval track racing by initiating modifications, such as all-enveloping bodywork to prevent wheels interlinking in the event of a collision between two cars (something the new-for-2012 Indycar design will partially address), or ultimately accept that Indycar racing risks are more obvious than those facing F1 competitors.
It is going to be a difficult balancing act.