Trustee visit to Silverstone highlights Foundation’s motor sport safety role

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FIA Foundation trustees receive a briefing from FIA safety officials.
FIA Foundation trustees receive a briefing from FIA safety officials.
FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson with Dr Ian Roberts (left), the FIA’s Medical Rescue Coordinator and F1 medical car driver Alan van der Merwe.
FIA Foundation Chairman Lord Robertson with Dr Ian Roberts (left), the FIA’s Medical Rescue Coordinator and F1 medical car driver Alan van der Merwe.
Trustees visited Race Control to learn about incident review and management.
Trustees visited Race Control to learn about incident review and management.
F1 driver Valtteri Bottas on the Silverstone circuit. The FIA Foundation has funded many aspects of research relating to driver safety, their cars and the circuits.
F1 driver Valtteri Bottas on the Silverstone circuit. The FIA Foundation has funded many aspects of research relating to driver safety, their cars and the circuits.

The FIA Foundation’s Board of Trustees visited Silverstone during the British Grand Prix to see examples of motor sport safety research and safety programmes supported by the charity.

The Foundation plays an important role in funding both cutting edge research to keep drivers and spectators safe, as well as safety training for race directors and marshals across the world.

Examples of research supported by the Foundation have included high speed barriers, circuit design, crash testing of racing cars, fireproof clothing for racing drivers, and the recent introduction of the HALO head protection device. The impact of this research goes far beyond just Formula One or the other main series for which the FIA is directly responsible. Presenting to the trustees during a safety briefing at Silverstone, FIA Foundation motor sport safety advisor, Will Phillips, described how the research conducted for the HALO in the open cockpit FIA formula series has also influenced Indycar in the US.

The FIA’s Head of Circuit Safety, Stuart Robertson; Head of Research, Tim Malyon; and Barbara Silva, Social Responsibility Programme Manager, presented examples of their work that have been supported by the Foundation. For example: the FIA’s drive to increase participation of young women in motor sport, and to ensure they can participate safely; training courses for race managers and volunteer marshals to safely manage races, spectators and incidents; the development of extrication techniques and equipment for interventions following a crash; and the vital role of crowd management and route inspection in cross-country rallies.

On a visit to the FIA’s scrutineering and race control facilities, trustees met with safety car drivers, the F1 medical team, and viewed a demonstration of real-time incident management as undertaken by FIA stewards during a Formula One race.

During the visit to Silverstone, the FIA Foundation’s chairman and trustees also attended a memorial to former FIA Formula One race director Charlie Whiting, who died in March. In addition to being the overseer and instigator of many safety research programmes and safety practices, Charlie Whiting also had a special link to the Foundation: he introduced the Foundation to Nani Rodriguez and her Fundacion Gonzalo Rodriguez (named for her racing driver brother), which has gone on to become a key road safety partner in South America. One example of the strong links between motor sport and wider social and environmental impact that the FIA Foundation is keen to foster through our grant support.