We’ve seen a few examples in recent days of F1 drivers, normally considered some of the most selfish individuals on the planet, using the platform of their fame to reach out for good causes. It is not new for drivers to lend their names to causes, but the scale of it, particularly on road safety, is interesting and suggests a trend whereby the drivers are becoming more ambassadorial.
Mark Webber has led the drivers to help him raise money for Aussie V8 driver Jason Richards, who has a very rare form of cancer. He is currently undergoing treatments in Australia and overseas and there is a great deal of fundraising going on for him in Australia. Webber got all the F1 drivers to sign a Red Bull wishbone and it will be auctioned along with a lot of other cool stuff on www.bid4jase.com.
If you are interested in bidding for the wishbone, go to Jason Richards fundraiser
Meanwhile the UN’s Decade of Action on Road Safety is in full swing and yesterday Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton visited 10 Downing Street to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron. The initiative is a global effort to save five million lives and prevent 50 million serious injuries.
Britain has some of the safest roads in the world, but even then, as Cameron said, “Road accidents are still the leading cause of death for British teenagers and young adults – with the loss of six or seven people in road crashes every day.”
The FIA is behind it, it’s a great way for F1 to seem relevant to the outside world and I know it’s a pet project for Jean Todt as it was for his predecessor Max Mosley. It’s an obvious one for the drivers to get involved with. Hamilton had to duck some awkward questions about his own road driving record, but he handled it well saying that he’s young and has made some mistakes, which actually makes him a more effective role model, especially with the young, because he’s had a wake-up call.
F1 is set to get behind this initiative in a big way and the impact could be quite significant. It’s especially needed in emerging countries, where the new middle class get their hands on cars for the first time. Another sector I always worry about are people who make some money, go out and buy something powerful and then cause big accidents.
Kamui Kobayashi has also rallied the F1 drivers to contribute to a new electronic Formula One e book featuring contributions from all the drivers and team principals which will help the relief effort in Japan after the earthquakes and Tsunami. The “You are connected” app can be purchased via itunes All the money received will go to the Red Cross in Japan.
And not wishing to be left out in this surge of altruism by drivers, Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen has joined forces with the World Heath Organisation to draw attention to a campaign to ensure around improving hospital’s ability to react fast in the event of natural disasters of the kind we’ve seen all too frequently of late in South East Asia. The campaign aims to ensure that health facilities are build to withstand disasters, have contingency plans in place and that staff are trained to help people under post-disaster conditions. And to make sure that the systems don’t fail when most needed. Asking people to “React Fast” Heikki is challenging people to beat his reaction time. You can find out more at WHO Fast Reaction initiative