The man behind Formula 4 safety

The man behind Formula 4 safety

11.10.2017: He’s a man with many hats, which may explain his hair! Grungy, a little unkempt, dishevelled even — the kind of locks rock stars would kill for.

He’s a man with many hats, which may explain his hair! Grungy, a little unkempt, dishevelled even — the kind of locks rock stars would kill for.



He goes about his business quietly, quickly, efficiently. Only stepping in when needed, safe in the knowledge the groundwork and plans have been put in place to ensure the safety of racing drivers.



He is Laurent Mekies, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) safety director as well as Formula One’s deputy race director and Formula Two race director.



Asked how he juggles his jobs, he replied: “I enjoy it. It's a good mix. We try to support all forms of departments from a safety perspective.



“It is good to have a role (in the two championships) to have a clearer picture of what is needed for both sides of the (safety) topic.



“One of my jobs is to make racing as safe as possible for drivers. There have been some new guidelines — while not popular with team owners and drivers — which are necessary if we want to save lives and reduce or even eliminate injuries.”



Mekies said educating drivers about safety issues has been one of the hardest aspects of his job.



“Drivers may not agree all the time. We need to educate and convince them we are not trying to curtail the speed of the car or their talent,” he explained.





“We are trying to anticipate what could happen instead of reacting to an accident. That is why when we come up with certain solutions, there are people who may question what we are doing.



“They don’t see or understand what the rationale behind such decisions until we explain them. That’s why I keep saying we need to educate drivers.”



Mekies is convinced the new “pyramid scheme” in formula racing — where drivers start earning points to their Super License by racing in Formula Four, Three and Two before reaching Formula One — will help educate drivers better.



He explained many guidelines in F1 would eventually filter down to the other forms of formula racing where the younger drivers can better understand what FIA is trying to do.



“We develop the high technology in F1 — crash tests, exotic material, halo cockpit protection and other high level developments because teams have strong engineering support.



“Once we do it for one or two years and as the technology gets better known we implement it in the other formula races. By which time, it would be less expensive for the lower category,” he said.



“The crash tests in F4 are from ones done in F1 years ago.  Every single characteristics of the Formula 4 car is a result of tests we have done in Formula 1, 2 and 3. The synergy is amazing.”



Separately, on the new F3 to be launched in 2019, Mekies said he expects it to be just as successful as Formula Four.



“Look at how well F4 has done. Its first champion, Lance Stroll is already in Formula One and there are many more drivers knocking on the door for an F1 drive,” said the Frenchman.



“In F3, we are studying the prospects of having two types of championships — one which is the national championships and another which is regional (similar to the FIA Formula 4 Southeast Asia Championship).”





He explained in three years Formula Four has gone from zero championships to 15 but was unsure if some countries can handle having individual championships.



“There is a need, or rather a request for an interim step, to have a regional championship instead of a national event. It is a good step forward as in terms of performance the gap will be quite big,” said Mekies, an engineer by training.



“We will try to satisfy the needs of all stakeholders.”


 


Sponsors

 

PETRON



Petron Corporation is an emerging and rapidly evolving Asian oil company. We share the same roots as ExxonMobil in Malaysia, tracing our lineage to 1933 with the formation of Standard Vacuum Oil Company. Petron has evolved to meet the challenges of the dynamic markets and today, we are the largest oil refining and marketing company in the Philippines, supplying nearly 40 per cent of the country’s oil requirements.
 


Hankook


From its humble beginnings in 1941 as Korea’s first tyre company, Hankook has grown into the seventh largest tyre company in the world, one that continues to create new possibilities and overcome new challenges. It is actively embracing the global stage through constant technological development and commitment to innovation.
 


Fuji Xerox



Founded in 1962 with its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, the Fuji Xerox Group employs more than 45,000 people globally, and has more than 80 domestic and international affiliates and sales subsidiaries.


The Malaysian operations began when Rank Xerox was incorporated in 1966. In 1991, it changed its name to Fuji Xerox Asia Pacific Pte Ltd (Malaysia Operations). Fuji Xerox Malaysia was awarded ISO 14001 Certification by the Japan Audit and Certification Organisation in 2003 for its compliance with environmental standards and commitment.
 



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Background Information

What is F4?


Formula 4 is the brainchild of Jean Todt, President of the FIA, and his team at the single seater commission.  Recognising the confusing myriad of championships for rookie race families to chose from, the FIA instigated their certified route to professional careers in the sport, via F4, F3, F2 to F1. 



Four years ago Lance Stroll was the first F4 champion, and was the first to avail of one the unique benefits of following the FIA pathway, collecting 12 Super Licence points.  Further successes in F3 earned him more Super Licence points, resulting in him having more than the required 45 points to join the Williams F1 team as the youngest ever F1 driver.


 
Formula 4 SEA



F4 SEA is one of 12 global F4 championships designed to help drivers cost-effectively transition from karting to formula sport. 



Offering a 30-race championship for Euro100,000, approximately half the cost of the equivalent championship in Europe, F4SEA is licenced to race in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, India, Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan.   All emerging motorsport markets can benefit from F4SEA's cost-effective ‘one concept’ championship:



•    One make:    all cars are identical FIA-homologated chassis and engine built to FIA F1 crash test spec

•    One team:     Meritus.GP is the exclusive race engineering service provider

•    One cost:      all-inclusive fee of Euro100,000 (plus registration, any damage and wet tyres)

•    One data:     all drivers’ data and team’s historic data is accessible to all

•    One dream:   win 12 FIA Super Licence points
https://formula4.asia/faq/
 


Asian Autosport Action (AAA) Group Sdn. Bhd.



Through a licencing agreement with the FIA and its Malaysian affiliate the AAM, Asian Autosport Action (AAA) Group is the appointed promoter of the FIA F4 SEA Championship.
 



F4 Exclusive Race Team - MERITUS.GP

Owned by the AAA Group, Meritus.GP has a European winning heritage combined with 20 years of motorsport experience in Asia.  Since 1996 the team has enjoyed the following successes:


Won 36 FIA international championship titles


•    Helped 7 drivers test or race in F1

•    Two of the team’s prodigies have won the Le Mans 24-Hours

•    Two drivers have gone on to win the Indy 500 in 2010 and 2011

•    Seven of the Team’s drivers have won Asian GT Championships



2017-18 Calendar

F4 SEA is a 30-race championship, commencing in Sepang supporting the Malaysian F1 on 29 September 2017 and visiting Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines before the fifth and final round back in Sepang on 8 February 2018.

- Aaron Thompson- also  photos

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11.10.2017 / MaP

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