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Todt rallies F1 stars to back esafety campaign
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Todt rallies F1 stars to back esafety campaign
Posted By: James Allen  |  10 Sep 2009   |  10:26 pm GMT  |  19 comments

FIA presidential hopeful Jean Todt is underlining his road safety credentials, ahead of the election next month. Todt has a strong motor sports background and is pushing hard on the saving lives aspect of the FIA. His partner, Michelle Yeoh is an FIA ambassador for Make Roads Safe.
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Yesterday at Vallelunga, Italy he hosted an event which highlighted technologies from the eSafety campaign of which he is president. He roped in some very big names from the world of F1, including Michael Schumacher, Heikki Kovalainen, Robert Kubica, Timo Glock and Giancarlo Fisichella.

The eSafety Challenge is an event co-funded by the European Commission, the FIA Foundation and eSafetyAware.

The technologies under the spotlight currently are Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Support Systems,
Speed Alert, Warning and Emergency Braking Systems.

It’s a worthy cause, each of the technologies has the potential to save thousands of lives on the road each year. I was recently at a dinner in the Williams motorhome with a group from Angola, there to celebrate Williams’ new trust in Angola founded through its relationship with Angolan conglomerate Ridge Solutions.

Thousands of people die needlessly on the roads in Angola because they make some money and go out a buy powerful sports cars or 4x4s and crash them. They would like to use their involvement in F1 to help prevent so much tragedy. The teams and drivers know that they an play a role there.

The more you think about it, the more you realise that this is where F1 finds relevance in the modern world, beyond its primary function, as an entertainment.

Making Roads Safe and the introduction of eSafety technologies on cars are going to be a huge focus of the automotive world in the next few years. And it would clearly be at the heart of a Todt presidency, should that come about.

F1 is a fantastic platform for highlighting the story because it is the ultimate expression of the car and – touch wood – of huge levels of built-in safety.

With many sponsors in F1 now looking to link their sponsorship with a Corporate Social Responsibility programme to justify it, a shift is taking place. You can get used to the idea that these kinds of messages will go hand in hard with F1 from now on. It will help the sport to appear relevant when critics and doubters will be looking to make it look like a caveman’s sport, a sport from the dark ages.

“Just as with a seat belt today, one day it will be unthinkable to buy a car without eSafety on board, ” said Todt. “Our goal is to save lives by speeding up the process of getting these systems into the market as soon as possible.”

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19 Comments
  1. Charlie says:

    Yeah, great. Interesting. So what would you advise Vantanen to do to become president?

  2. Aaron James says:

    A little bit off topic, but how on earth did Jean Todt pull Michelle Yeoh.

    The man is not a little like a modern day Napoleon.

  3. iceman says:

    Wow, Michelle Yeoh must be pushing 50 but she still looks _fine_. And how small does it make Todt and Fisi look, standing next to a petite Chinese woman like that :)

  4. Loti says:

    How can you write Corporate Social Responsability and Formula 1 in the same sentence, much less the same paragraph! Motor racing is [admittedly a hugely enjoyable] waste of money, some say a sport,certainly a nice little earner for a lot of people, but in the general scheme of things, has no social responsability other than for people to have something so far removed from their daily lives to follow and be interested in.
    trying to be so politically correct. The FIA is so full of it’s own importance, it really is just a club for old boys in blazers! How many people do you know who know their car’s encap rating? I havn’t found one, and none said they bought the car because of it.I am sure that Jean Todt will be competant President [if he wins] he did,after all,deal with Ferrari and Peugeot most efficiently but jollies at Vellelunga with his tame celebrities looks exactly like what it is,more electioneering with FIA funds.
    End of rant.

  5. Patrickl says:

    So again he’s using his partner and FIA money to promote his election? Of course Vatanen won’t be allowed to say so because that would be a gross underestimation of Michelle Yeoh’s important work blah blah feigned indignation blah blah blah.

    Vatanen’s election is looking stronger. I really hope he can win. Todt is only in it for himself and he’s just as corrupt and dictatorial as Mosely.

  6. Renn Sport says:

    I’m all for road safety but lets be careful not to e-radicate the joy of driving at the same time.

    I also ride a motorbike so lets see what they think up with regards to two wheeled motorised transport..

    1. rpaco says:

      If the EU bring in compulsory day driving lights on cars there will be many more daylight bike accidents of the “sorry mate I didn’t see you” type. Two of them finished my biking era, but that was before bikes used headlights in daytime, the EU will take care of that important safety aspect.
      Maybe those airbags that turn into a huge ball around you. (a la James Bond) But seriously don’t MotoGP riders have airbag jackets now?

  7. Red Kimi says:

    James…. Sounds like Luca Di M announced Kimi and Massa for 2010…. You said just yesterday you knew for a fact Alonso woudl be there in 2010… are we reading into luca’s words wrong?!

  8. rpaco says:

    Much as Michelle Hidden Tiger is gorgeous, if he could get @Suziperry on the other end of the line up he would increase the audience to area in great need. Maybe Ari could call Suzi, she’s at home in France this weekend!

    Guys, engineers and car designers, at more than one of my old customers, used to say that if, instead of an airbag, a big spike, shot out of the steering wheel, then the number of accidents would halve, people would actually pay attention and take proper care. I haveto agree to a large extent.

    The modern car is basically a bouncy castle inside, with the outside a mixture of pedestrian friendly angles, max radius curves and high energy absorbing crumple zones. (Of course this all goes to hell if you look at a LRover Defender or are hit by a telehandler or JCB.)
    However the basic problem, as is very evident in F1 accidents, is the human body withstanding deceleration, what worries me is the NCAP ratings of small cars, some of which have 5 stars. Let me explain that for the survival cell to be maintained intact, the crumple zone must absorb all the energy,(obviously) BUT in order to do so in a small car the distance over which this happens is very small (like half or a third of that of a large saloon/hatchback) This means that although the survival cell is itself intact, within it, the body has been subject to enormous forces, ie the body is having its own accident inside the survival cell.
    Thus I continue to maintain that large cars are VERY much safer to crash in than small cars. (if you must crash that is)
    In case you are wondering, a 1998 Xantia DT on WVO.

    1. James Allen says:

      Thanks for that, Rpaco

    2. Snail says:

      Guys, engineers and car designers, at more than one of my old customers, used to say that if, instead of an airbag, a big spike, shot out of the steering wheel, then the number of accidents would halve, people would actually pay attention and take proper care. I haveto agree to a large extent.

      A guy on one of the newsgroups I used to frequent many moons ago used to say that. I wonder if that was you? Usenet user of old perhaps?

      1. rpaco says:

        “A guy on one of the newsgroups I used to frequent many moons ago used to say that. I wonder if that was you? Usenet user of old perhaps?”

        No it wasn’t me, though I am old enough, but it was a fairly widely held view amongst automotive engineers. They thought that each new safety measure, seat belts, crumple zones, air bags, just meant that people went faster with less fear, learned nothing and still ended up in the same accidents, with even higher impacts, a few more surviving maybe.

        Take active suspension, if I remember correctly it was Lotus who invented that, for F1, it was fantastic once it was tuned, the car was on rails! It gives much fuller, contact with the road/track surface and is theoretically safer than spring/damper suspension. Banned in F1 of course! Volvo and some others developed it for road cars, again it was fantastic, they could even put tilt on the car in bends so that it canceled (converted actually) some of the G force, like in the infamous pendulum train. This had the effect of making the drivers extremely brave on bends, in the end they decided it made it too deceptively safe and binned it. Although Citroen did make the Activa versions of some hydro models these were not proactive in the same way.
        Strange how these ideas come back again years later as new inventions Merc are now using hydro/air their suspension and the steerable lights from the DS Pallas are new again.

        Many times when I was driving back home down the M40 in thick traffic, I longed for the new Merc active cruise/distance/braking control with car following, so I could relax and read a book. You see no matter how safe you make it some idiot will always screw it up!

    3. Snail says:

      Thus I continue to maintain that large cars are VERY much safer to crash in than small cars. (if you must crash that is)

      A couple of years ago I wrote off my VW Passat in a low speed (10 or 15mph) accident pulling out of a junction. Various people had parked both sides of the junction (inluding large vans) making it effectively blind to pull out. I looked both ways, looked OK, pulled out and bang, where the hell did that come from?

      A tiny Peugeot 105 hit me, bending his passenger side faring slightly, only just interfering with his wheel so he couldn’t drive away. He was doing about 30mph or less and hit the Passat fair and square in the middle of the front of the car at a glancing angle. It must have been perfect for the crumple zone stuff because the whole lot just caved in (sideways and back) and took all the impact. No one hurt. It was amazing that the front 2 feet of my car could just disintegrate and his was virtually untouched. But it does show how these crumple zones work.

      Shame about the car, I drive a diesel now which is completely different, if a lot cheaper.

      1. rpaco says:

        Snail
        I cant help thinking the impact would be felt more in the 105 while you felt very little. It’s a bit like having two spring rates.

        My first inkling was the reverse of yours, many years back when I was in my 30s(ish) one of my best customers was SAAB GB The tale from the technical director (Then Alex, sadly no more) was that he was driving his company 900 turbo one day and stopping suddenly to avoid a car pulling out without looking, he felt a slight nudge from behind. He got out to look and found an R5 in many pieces steaming and dripping, accompanied by a distressed driver. He than pulled forward and over to clear the road of at least his car and went back to exchange insurance details and damage lists. While the R5 was a write-off, the 900 had suffered a small mark on the rear bumper (which rubbed out later, with magic autoGlym).
        Of course back then there was n o ENCAP test and the TRRL was in its early days and to be fair the SAAB 900 was one of the strongest cars ever built, and a fantastic drive at that. I drove one all over the country visiting the SAAB network (I worked for Philips at the time) which was good and bad. “Turbo” was new and the word on the back of any car was a police magnet, I drove sedately for many miles with police cars behind me just waiting. It is still the most comfortable car I have ever driven. “They used to say get them to sit in the seat and it’s sold”

    4. Martin Collyer says:

      The difficulty I find with this obsession about crash performance is the enormously thick windscreen pillars that are used now, presumably to get good NCAP ratings.

      I hired a Vauxhall Meriva, I didn’t choose it, it’s what the hire company provided, a couple of years ago, driver’s visibility was appalling, dangerous. Numerous times I pulled up at junctions and could not get a proper view of traffic.

      I believe that Max Mosley has claimed, on behalf of the FIA preumably, credit for the NCAP system but what is the point of solving one problem and creating another, a much worse one too, poor visibity.

      And it’s not just Vauxhall’s Meriva that has this problem, my wife’s car is nearly as bad.

      If this is the FIA’s contribution to road safety it would be better if they stopped now!!

  9. Alastair says:

    Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Support Systems,
    Speed Alert, Warning and Emergency Braking Systems.

    Why not just teach people to drive better so they dont have the accident in the first place?

    1. Martin Collyer says:

      Great idea.

  10. Werewolf says:

    “Electronic Stability Control, Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Support Systems,
    Speed Alert, Warning and Emergency Braking Systems.”

    Man, am I glad I still drive a 20-odd year old (performance) car. What really worries me is that in order to protect its cash cow, the FIA is looking to dumb down driving for the rest of us to the lowest common denominator and even reduce that. It’s has hypocritical as allowing smoking in the House of Commons and insulting to both intelligence and freedom.

    I am so glad I have no children because the world they would inherit will not be worth living in.

  11. D Hon says:

    I have spoken to my Malaysian colleagues, and all of them concurred that, for the record, Michelle Yeoh has done absolutely nothing on Road Safety in her native home of Malaysia. Sadly, young children, especially indigenous Malaysians who lives near rural and logging areas, are ran over and killed by trucks and 4×4 each day.

    Food for thought?

    I know where my vote will be.

    D Hon

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