Without putting too fine a point on it, thirty years ago we would already have published Heikki Kovalainen's obituary had he been involved in the sort of accident which befell his McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 in the recent Spanish GP. In fact, the car would most likely have exploded like a fire bomb and you'd have swept it all up into a black bin liner once the debris was cool enough to touch. You may find the foregoing rather stark, some of you may go further than that and brand it as salacious. And perhaps you are right. But it is also totally true and the only reason Heikki has lived to fight another day is thanks to the remarkable efforts expended by the FIA and the F1 constructors to evolve safer cars and safer circuits. In particular, one must pay tribute to McLaren for whom Ron Dennis and John Barnard produced the first carbon-fibre chassis in the business back in 1981.
Just consider the detail of the Kovalainen shunt. It[the car] was destroyed, yes. The front of the chassis broke off. The chassis is wedge-shaped and the team concluded thataa it went in to the barriers until the point at which it snapped. A section of about 450-500mm broke off the front of the chassis, but everything worked as it was supposed to. The car absorbed a massive amount of energy, Heikki received no physical injuries and the circuit emergency staff and the FIA medical team at the track did an absolutely fantastic job in getting him out of the car safely and then looking after him thereafter.
Anybody who considers F1 to be a frivolous business should perhaps reflect on this reality.