A big personality in the world of motorsports in general and F1 in particular, Philippe Gurdjian, who passed away last year, also raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times.
It was in 1975 that Philippe Gurdjian discovered the 24 Hours of Le Mans with a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (the famous "Daytona"). He passed under the checkered flag in 13th place in his first participation. After being forced to retire in 1976, he was at the start for three editions at the wheel of Porsches prepared by brothers Manfred and Erwin Kremer. Thanks to those two great Porsche experts, Gurdjian achieved his best result in La Sarthe in 1977 with a seventh place finish and class victory. In 1978 and 79, Gurdjian's teammate was German gentleman-driver Louis Krages (John Winter), future winner of the 24 Hours in 1985. In 1981, for his last participation, he joined Ferrari, with Luigi Chinetti's prestigious American team, NART, which in 1965 won Ferrari's last victory to date in Le Mans.
During the last quarter-century, Gurdjian could typically be found in the world of Formula 1. He was the promoter for the French Grand Prix from 1985 to 1990 at Paul Ricard Circuit and from the moment he arrived at the Magny-Cours circuit in 1991 until 1998, then contributed to the presence of F1 in developing countries, namely Malaysia, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi; and was involved with the success of the Spanish Grand Prix from 2001 to 2009. To him we also owe the renovation of the Paul Ricard Circuit, renamed HTTT the safest Circuit in the World, which today hosts the preliminary tests for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), as well as the French round of the European Le Mans Series.
TECPRO: A new safety system introduced by Philippe Gurdjian at the Paul Ricard circuit 10 years ago...
The President & CEO of the Paul Ricard HTTT Philippe Gurdjian, never stops to progress and improve safety on the race tracks all over the world.
After the creation of the new corners 'S' de la Verrerie' on the Paul Ricard HTTT, Philippe Gurdjian decided to install a brand new safety system to protect drivers and cars in case of impacts against the guard rails. This innovating system is to substitute the obsolete tyre barriers and their conveyer belts.
Philippe Gurdjian has worked over the last two years with TecPro International to find out the best concept for the new barrier system. This concept is made of rational moulding of flexible polyethylene blocks measuring 1.50 meters long and 1.20 m height with 0.60 m width and a weight of 110 kg. Strapped together, the F1 TecPro is filled with injected bendy foam of flexible density with a metallic sheet placed at the centre to reinforce the barrier.
The F1 TecPro has a maximum amount of energy absorption and can reduce greatly the 'G' force impact. Their installation is simple and their maintenance is truly easy and cost effective. Developed according to modern Formula One speeds, the TecPro barriers are truly efficient thanks to the system that can not get dismantled in case of crash, also they can not be punctured by any type of vehicle. In addition, official tests were carried out by the FIA and DEKRA.
One more time, Philippe Gurdjian was far ahead the first one to install and apply this brand new type of protection on the Paul Ricard HTTT, as he first started to set it up in the new 'Petit Beausset' corner as soon as January 2005. It was then first seen on a race track at the 2005 Monaco F1 Grand Prix in May of the same year.
In September 2005, when Philippe Gurdjian created the new corners in 'La Verrerie' (exact copy of 'Dunlop S' in Suzuka – Japan), he decided to install the F1 TecPro Barriers to replace the previously existing tyre barriers. On this new part of the track, the TecPro barrier is made of 210 blocs measuring 1.50m each set up some 1.20m from the guard rail to reinforce the absorption efficiency in case of impact. The absorption has been increased thanks to two additional red intermediate absorbent TecPro blocs which also give the Rescue Teams and marshals the opportunity to proceed to a quicker intervention from the service road towards the track.
"The Paul Ricard HTTT is the true reference of the new race tracks all over the world. As it was modernized, my main goal was to make out of this track the first track of the third millennium in terms of safety. We developed new concepts which are now copied on all the new tracks over the world. This is truly the best reward I could have expected. The TecPro concept is definitively innovating and a new step toward safety. This is the reason why the Paul Ricard HTTT was the first track to adopt it," explained Philippe Gurdjian, who is and will always be ahead of future…
In the last four years and after over 200,000 kilometres of Formula One testing on the Paul Ricard HTTT, there were only four impacts against the guard rails to be counted. It still stays a priority for Philippe Gurdjian to improve constantly the circuits and safety developments. As a matter of fact, the Paul Ricard HTTT has recently been chosen by the new FIA Institute to be the first centre for Motor Sport Safety.
Paul Ricard HTTT
The Formula One Strategy Group met yesterday in Biggin Hill to exchange views on the current challenges that F1 faces. Besides the statuary members of the Group, representatives of the engine manufacturers were also invited.
The Strategy Group members have debated a number of levers aimed at improving the show. An initial series of measures has been voted:
- Free choice of the two dry tyre compounds (out of four) that each team can use during the race weekend
- Faster cars: 5 to 6 seconds drop in laptimes through aerodynamic rules evolution, wider tyres and reduction of car weight
- Reintroduction of refuelling (maintaining a maximum race fuel allowance)
- Higher revving engines and increased noise
- More aggressive looks
A few other measures have also been discussed but require further investigation before they can be implemented:
- A global reflection on race weekend format
- Measures to make starts only activated by the driver without any outside assistance
Furthermore, in light of the various scenarios presented by the independent consulting company mandated by the F1 Strategy Group, at the initiative of the FIA, to work on the reduction of costs and following a constructive exchange, a comprehensive proposal to ensure the sustainability of the sport has emerged. The Strategy Group member Teams have committed to refine it in the next few weeks, in consultation with the other teams involved in the championship. On the engine side, it has been decided that stability of the rules should prevail in consideration of the investments of the manufacturers involved in the sport and to give visibility to potential new entrants. The allowance for a 5th engine to be used during the 2015 season has been rejected.
This constructive meeting between the FIA, FOM and the Teams has allowed paving the way for the future of the championship. All parties agreed to work together with an intention to firm up these proposals and submit them to the approval of the F1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council of the FIA as soon as possible for implementation.
Jean Todt Bernie Ecclestone
FIA President Formula One Group CEO
The FIA has launched a new online pledge aimed at promoting road safety and committing drivers to obey the rules of the road, as part of the FIA Action for Road Safety campaign. The pledge is available at www.fia.com/pledge.
The fans, the general public as well as the motor sport and motoring communities are invited to pledge their support and commitment to the FIA’s 10 Golden Rules for safer motoring. The Golden Rules are a set of tips intended to help motorists improve their driving behaviour and remind them of their responsibilities to themselves, their passengers and all other road users.
The FIA is delighted to announce that 2014 Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton has given his support to this initiative as a 2015 FIA Action for Road Safety Ambassador. Along with FIA President Jean Todt, he was one of the first signatories of the pledge, sending out a strong message to his fans about the dangers of the road. Lewis is the first in a series of high-profile ambassadors to be unveiled soon.
Lewis Hamilton said: “As an F1 driver, and even more now as a World Champion, I feel I have a responsibility to promote safe driving outside the track. The FIA’s 10 Golden Rules are simple rules that everyone should follow. I strongly encourage my fans to respect them and show their support by signing the pledge.”
Jean Todt, President of the FIA, said: “Road safety is a top priority for the FIA. We’re calling on all road users to be responsible and to obey the rules on the road. By taking our pledge, you are making a personal commitment to improving road safety, one of today’s leading challenges. We all have a role to play and together we can all save lives.”
The FIA can also rely on the support of the campaign’s global partners – Michelin, Coca-Cola and PETRONAS, and official supporters – Nissan and Iveco.
FIA Action for Road Safety campaign
The FIA Action for Road Safety campaign was launched in May 2011 in support of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, which now reaches its mid-point. In order to remobilise international attention on this global challenge, the FIA is promoting awareness on road safety through its Member Clubs, partners and utilising its leading role in motor sport.
Road accidents kill 1.3 million every year and injure 50 million more. They are the number one killer of 15-29 year olds. Every day 500 children die on the world’s roads.
Source: FIA .com