Max Mosley, the president of Formula One's governing body, the FIA, believes that the sport is in serious danger of a repeat of the Imola weekend in 1994 when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna lost their lives in separate accidents.
No drivers have been killed in Formula One since then, but there is a growing body of opinion that things are spiralling out of control and that the current cars are simply too fast.
Mosley is determined to introduce 2.4-litre V8 engines for 2006 to reduce horsepower levels and therefore lap speeds. Thethree-litre V10s used at present produce 920bhp. But while Mosley believes a V8 would produce 650 to 700bhp, simple arithmetic of bhp/cc suggests something closer to 740. He is so adamant that he may even drive successful manufacturers such as BMW and Honda away.
"They argue that they could produce regulated V10s, but we say to them that even if you are right - and they are not - motor sport cannot take the risk of going on with these very powerful engines in the light of evidence we've had of the inherent dangers," Mosley said here following Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix.
"The main boards of these companies should give very careful consideration to litigating against us. They should not use their huge financial resources to force an independent governing body against their judgement to go along with something adjudged to be dangerous. It is not just the drivers and marshals we worry about; the people in the grandstands are entitled to believe we have taken all steps to make sure it's safe.
"At Le Mans in 1955 more than 80 people were killed when a Mercedes-Benz crashed into a tribune opposite the pits. A few hours later that same space was packed with people standing in the blood of those who were killed. You cannot imagine that being allowed to happen today. Everything would be shut down and there would be a major enquiry. Society has changed."
There are other concerns that the tyre war between Bridgestone and Michelin has escalated to a dangerous level. The spate of recent punctures at Indianapolis, Spa and here on Sunday, involving Michael Schumacher, has convinced some that the greatest potential for a fatality lies in that area, rather than in sheer horsepower, though the two are linked.
A meeting on Sunday of the technical working group produced a show of hands in which all parties appeared to be in favour of the imposition of single tyre supply rather than a cut in horsepower.
That would cut expensive tyre development, provide a simple supply means of cutting costs by limiting testing, and wipe out one of Schumacher's biggest advantages, the unique relationship he and Ferrari enjoy with Bridgestone.
If Ferrari are in favour, that may go some way to explaining the foul mood that Schumacher was in as others celebrated at the weekend.Reuse content