Former FIA president Max Mosley believes a crash like Fernando Alonso suffered in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix would have killed the driver had it happened in a previous era.
Alonso’s McLaren clipped the Haas car driven by Esteban Gutierrez while travelling at close to 200mph, crashed into a trackside wall at Albert Park and barrel-rolled twice before Alonso crawled out of the wreckage.
Mosley’s reign at the head of motor sport’s governing body saw a push for increased safety measures, which continues to this day with the planned introduction of the Halo device to protect a driver’s head.
The death of Ayrton Senna at Imola in 1994 helped to inspire that movement and Mosley admitted an accident such as Alonso’s may once have had the same tragic outcome.
Frenchman Jules Bianchi also died from accidents suffered in a crash at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix but this time around, Mosley could afford to refer to Alonso’s crash as “impressive” as he paid tribute to the efforts of his former FIA chief medical officer Sid Watkins.
“I don’t think he would have (survived),” Mosley told several national newspapers. “You wouldn’t know for sure without a detailed analysis but generally speaking those sorts of accidents resulted in serious injury or death.
“Happily that seems to have stopped. There are still freak accidents, like Jules, but those sort of serious racing accidents, you do expect the driver to walk away. That wouldn’t have been the case 20 years ago.
“This was thanks to Sid Watkins and a team of really competent people and the teams themselves. It needed to be looked at scientifically and that was the big change after Ayrton Senna’s death at Imola in 1994.
“It’s very satisfying to see Alonso walk away. You work hard and it’s very satisfying when you see the results. It was quite an impressive crash.”
Alonso acknowledged as much after the race when he wrote on Twitter: “I am aware that today I spent some of the luck remaining in life, I want to thank McLaren, the FIA for the safety on this cars.”
Nico Rosberg beat Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton to win the season’s opening race in Melbourne.
Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE
Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport