Dr. Robert Hubbard, the person who was the brainchild behind the HANS safety device, died at his home on February 5, 2019.
HANS – a head and neck support device – was first thought about by Dr. Hubbard during the 1980s when he discussed about the a safety product with his brother-in-law and racer Jim Downing after the death of their friend Patrick Jacquemart.
The idea was to prepare a device which reduces the likelihood of a head and a neck injury, like basilar skull fracture, when a driver crashes. Initially, they had to work on their own without any financial help to fund the research but they started to get funds later on.
The drivers and championships resisted using the device which was officiated when Hubbard and Downing formed ‘Hubbard Downing Inc’ to manufacturer and sell the products. The interest from F1 side rose due to the events of 1994 at Imola.
With the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberg, F1 together with FIA and Mercedes started testing the product between 1996 and 1998. The device was officially mandated in F1 from 2003 onward which continues on till date.
Not only F1, the NHRA started using the product already in 1996 and in today’s times nearly all of the championships has mandated its use to increase drivers’ safety. Dr. Hubbard, effectively, has saved many lives himself.
The reason for the his death, late on February 5, 2019, hasn’t been revealed by his company, which release a statement, stating: “We are very saddened by the death of Dr. Robert Hubbard, the inventor of the HANS device.
“He left yesterday (Tuesday) surrounded by the affection of his loved ones, to whom we offer our condolences. His invention has been very important for safety over the past 20 years and has saved many people from injuries or worse consequences.
“Bob’s invention changed safety in motorsport, he was a big-hearted person and ready to help anyone in need, we’ll miss you so much, Bob rest in peace.”
From everyone at FormulaRapida.net, we offer our condolences to Dr. Hubbard’s family