May 01, 2015
Rescue crews actually had to cut Smith from the wreckage of the car, but he was able to walk under his own power to the ambulance, though unsteadily. Taken to the infield care unit, he was later helicoptered to the nearby University of Alabama-Birmingham Hospital for further observation.
I mention all this because of a screenshot I saw of the wreck... to whit, this one:
The particular stretch of wall that Smith impacted had what's called a SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction) Barrier installed in front of it. When hit, it's designed to crumple like a beercan, reducing the strength of the impact before the car makes contact with the concrete wall behind it. That's why Smith's car looks like it's smooshed to half its size: part of it is inside the SAFER barrier.
During the NASCAR Xfinity race at Daytona back in February Kyle Busch had a similar accident, except the wall he hit notably didn't have the SAFER barriers installed. He suffered a broken right leg and left foot. Certainly there were differences: impact angle, size and weight of the cars, so on and so forth... but that one man could walk away and the other is sidelined and will remain so for an unknown amount of time may very well come down to the way the wall deformed.
F1 doesn't use SAFER barriers; instead, they use tire walls which really do much the same thing, or TECPRO barriers at four or five circuits. TECPRO is the same idea as SAFER, just with much more foam and less steel. It's used mostly at Monaco, where it protected Sergio Perez from what would have been a catastrophic injury in 2011. Compare that accident to Jenson Button's in 2003, when they had a tire wall instead... no give at all.
In most cases for F1, tire barriers are sufficient. Walls are usually far away from the track, and when they're not, a car isn't likely to hit them (on straightaways, for example). Tire barriers are "good enough" in those circumstances, combined with the way F1 cars are designed to absorb impacts. A SAFER barrier might actually hinder the way a F1 car takes damage, come to think of it.
Well, there you go.
Posted by: Mauser at May 02, 2015 06:07 AM (TJ7ih)
Posted by: GreyDuck at May 02, 2015 08:59 AM (/zxpg)
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 02, 2015 09:28 AM (jGQR+)
Posted by: AlanL at May 03, 2015 02:49 AM (ltw44)
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 03, 2015 11:09 AM (jGQR+)
In a lot of cases on F1 tracks the runoff areas are hard surface, either packed earth or actual pavement. All they do is give the driver a bit more time to regain control of his car before he hits the wall.
For instance, if you blow turn 1 at Austin, you get 70 meters of paved runoff area, and then you Tee right into a barrier.
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 03, 2015 09:06 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Steven Den Beste at May 03, 2015 10:53 PM (+rSRq)
Posted by: Wonderduck at May 05, 2015 02:45 AM (jGQR+)
Posted by: Rick C at May 05, 2015 12:57 PM (ECH2/)
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