Nigel Mansell today said racing drivers were around “1,000%” safer than in his early ‘90s Formula One heyday.
The 1992 Formula One world champion visited Canary Wharf to sign copies of his book, Staying On Track, and found time to speak to The Wharf about his career and love for the sport.
Visiting Waterstones, Jubilee Place, the former Team Ferrari driver also spoke of why Lewis Hamilton is his favourite current racing driver.
“The sport is very different now,” he said. “The biggest difference is the changes that were made after the tragedies in 1994 with Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger.
“Practically all the dangerous corners have been removed – drivers can now drive without fear of hitting a wall.
“Do I think it is safer? Only by about 1,000%. Back then you had a 20% chance of dying and you had done well if you’d done 180 races in your career.”
• Also online: Five things you probably didn't know about Nigel Mansell
Despite the sport being barely recognisable from Mansell’s prime, he is still an avid follower of the sport, and has a somewhat unsurprising choice of favourite driver.
“It’s got to be Lewis Hamilton,” he said. “He reminds me of me in a way.
“He races so well, and is also a better thinker than he used to be. He can turn it on in qualifying too if he needs to.
“I don’t even think we’ve seen the best of him yet, so God help us when he reaches his peak.”
His new book, Staying On Track, is a retelling of his life and his remarkable career.
“It is about my whole life from when I was a little boy to the present day,” he said. “It is about the tremendous obstacles that life can throw at us sometimes and how we bounce back by staying on track.
“The book tour has been fantastic – it has sold out a lot of the places we have been to, and they’re sweating that they’re going to run out here (Waterstones, Jubilee Place), which is a good thing for me.”