Jules Bianchi, Marussia, Suzuka, 2014

FIA plans changes after Bianchi crash but report says his speed was to blame

2014 Japanese Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

The FIA’s report into Jules Bianchi’s crash during the Japanese Grand Prix, which left him with serious brain injuries, claims it occurred because the Marussia driver “did not slow sufficiently” as he was instructed to by double yellow flags which were being shown at the time.

“If drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags,” the report noted, “then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger”. Bianchi’s car struck a crane which was recovering the stranded vehicle of Adrian Sutil, who had crashed at the same corner on the previous lap.

But although the report backed the decision of race director Charlie Whiting not to deploy the Safety Car while Sutil’s car was being recovered, a summary released following today’s World Motor Sport Council meeting listed six recommendations for improvements to F1 safety in the wake of the accident. They included changes to the use of double waved yellow flags.

The report also revealed a conflict between the Marussia’s brake-by-wire system and a failsafe system on the car may have hindered Bianchi’s efforts to slow down prior to the moment of impact.

The Marussia driver lost control of his car in the Dunlop curve, slightly earlier than where Sutil had gone off. His helmet made contact with the underside of the crane which was moving Sutil’s car.

The report’s authors judged it was not realistic to attempt to make such an impact safe by enclosing cockpits or modifying recovery vehicles. “It is not feasible to mitigate the injuries Bianchi suffered by either enclosing the driver’s cockpit, or fitting skirts to the crane,” they noted. “Neither approach is practical due to the very large forces involved in the accident between a 700kg car striking a 6500kg crane at a speed of 126kph [78mph].”

Nonetheless it did not take the position that the Safety Car should have been deployed because a crane was being used at the side.

“The actions taken following Sutil’s accident were consistent with the regulations, and their interpretation following 384 incidents in the preceding eight years,” it judged. “Without the benefit of hindsight, there is no apparent reason why the Safety Car should have been deployed either before or after Sutil’s accident.”

Instead the recommendations made by the sport’s governing body included changes to yellow flag procedure, improvements to track drainage and changes to the scheduling of races to avoid local rainy seasons. Bianchi’s crash occurred around three-quarters of an hour before sunset was due to fall, with heavy cloud and rain further worsening visibility.

Although the report stressed “the characteristics of the wet weather tyres provided by Pirelli did not influence Bianchi’s accident or its outcome in any significant way”, it also advised for changes to be made to ensure wet weather tyres can be adequately tested.

The actions of the marshals at the scene of both crashes and the medical attention Bianchi received was judged to be in line with all relevant procedures. “Their expediency are considered to have contributed significantly to the saving of Bianchi’s life,” the report noted.

A ten-man panel contributed to the report including the president of the FIA Safety Commission Peter Wright, former team principals Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali and two-times world champion Emerson Fittipaldi.

Bianchi, who remains unconscious and in a critical condition, returned to France last month.

Jules Bianchi crash report summary

As issued by the FIA.

On lap 43 of the Japanese Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi lost control of his Marussia in turn seven, and struck a mobile crane that was recovering Adrian Sutil’s Sauber, which had crashed the lap before. Bianchi suffered life-threatening injuries to his head, and was evacuated to hospital by ambulance.

The weather conditions at the time were rain and a deteriorating track condition, and the section of the track where the accident occurred was subject to double yellow flags, due to Sutil’s crash.

A review of all the evidence and other information about the events leading up to Bianchi’s accident has been carried out by the ten-man Accident Panel, appointed by the FIA. The panel has issued a 396-page report on their findings with recommendations for improvements, many relevant to all of motorsport. This has been presented to the FIA World Motor Sport Council.

Conclusions:

The review of the events leading up to Bianchi’s accident indicate that a number of key issues occurred, which may have contributed to the accident, though none alone caused it:

1. The semi-dry racing line at turn seven was abruptly narrowed by water draining onto the track and flowing downhill along it. Both Sutil, and Bianchi one lap later, lost control at this point in turn seven.

2. Sutil’s car was in the process of being recovered by mobile crane when Bianchi approached sectors seven and eight, which include the part of turn seven where the recovery was taking place. Sectors seven and eight were subject to double yellow flags.

3. Bianchi did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control at the same point on the track as Sutil.

4. If drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags, as set out in Appendix H, Article 2.4.5.1.b*, then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger.

5. The actions taken following Sutil’s accident were consistent with the regulations, and their interpretation following 384 incidents in the preceding eight years. Without the benefit of hindsight, there is no apparent reason why the Safety Car should have been deployed either before or after Sutil’s accident.

6. Bianchi over-controlled the oversteering car, such that he left the track earlier than Sutil, and headed towards a point “up-stream” along the barrier. Unfortunately, the mobile crane was in front of this part of the barrier, and he struck and under-ran the rear of it at high speed.

7. During the two seconds Bianchi’s car was leaving the track and traversing the run-off area, he applied both throttle and brake together, using both feet. The FailSafe algorithm is designed to over-ride the throttle and cut the engine, but was inhibited by the Torque Coordinator, which controls the rear Brake-by-Wire system. Bianchi’s Marussia has a unique design of BBW, which proved to be incompatible with the FailSafe settings.

8. The fact that the FailSafe did not disqualify the engine torque requested by the driver may have affected the impact velocity; it has not been possible to reliably quantify this. However, it may be that Bianchi was distracted by what was happening and the fact that his front wheels had locked, and been unable to steer the car such that it missed the crane.

9. Bianchi’s helmet struck the sloping underside of the crane. The magnitude of the blow and the glancing nature of it caused massive head deceleration and angular acceleration, leading to his severe injuries.

10. All rescue and medical procedures were followed, and their expediency are considered to have contributed significantly to the saving of Bianchi’s life.

11. It is not feasible to mitigate the injuries Bianchi suffered by either enclosing the driver’s cockpit, or fitting skirts to the crane. Neither approach is practical due to the very large forces involved in the accident between a 700kg car striking a 6500kg crane at a speed of 126kph. There is simply insufficient impact structure on a F1 car to absorb the energy of such an impact without either destroying the driver’s survival cell, or generating non-survivable decelerations.

It is considered fundamentally wrong to try and make an impact between a racing car and a large and heavy vehicle survivable. It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it.

Recommendations:

A number of recommendations for improvements have been proposed, relevant in many cases to all of motorsport. They include the following:

1. A new regulation for double yellow flags:

Proposed new Appendix H Article (possibly under 2.4.5.1 b):

The Clerk of the Course will impose a speed limit in any section of track where double yellow flags are being displayed.

It is proposed that a Working Group, made up of FIA race directors and stewards should meet and draw up detailed regulations and guidelines for the application of this new regulation, in time to apply it in 2015 across international circuit racing.

2. Safety critical software:

A review of safety critical software and measures to check its integrity will take place.

3. Track drainage:

Guidelines on circuit drainage will be reviewed, to include drainage off access roads.

4. 4-hour Rule:

Article 5.3 of the F1 sporting regulations states that:

However, should the race be suspended (see Article 41) the length of the suspension will be added to this period up to a maximum total race time of four hours.

It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the start time of an event shall not be less than four hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races.

It is also recommended that the F1 calendar is reviewed in order to avoid, where possible, races taking place during local rainy seasons.

5. Super Licence

It is proposed that drivers acquiring a super licence for the first time should undertake a course to familiarise themselves with the procedures used by F1 in running and ensuring the safety of an event.

It is also proposed that new licence holders pass a test to ensure that they are familiar with all the relevant regulations.

6. F1 risk review

Consideration will be given to a review of F1 risk, in order to ascertain whether there are any significant holes in the safety defences, such that an unforeseen combination of circumstances could result in a serious accident.

7. Tyres

It is part of the challenge of a racing driver to drive his car as fast as possible given the track conditions combined with the characteristics of his tyres. Although the characteristics of the wet weather tyres provided by Pirelli did not influence Bianchi’s accident or its outcome in any significant way, it is recommended that provision is made for the tyre supplier to develop and adequately test wet weather tyres between each F1 season, such that it is able to supply the latest developments to the first event.

*Appendix H, Article 2.4.5.1.b of the International Sporting Code defines a double waved yellow flag as follows:

“Reduce your speed, do not overtake, and be prepared to change direction or stop. There is a hazard wholly or partly blocking the track.”

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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138 comments on “FIA plans changes after Bianchi crash but report says his speed was to blame”

  1. Brake by wire not activating with pedal overlap? That is a SERIOUS design flaw.

    1. The same happened with Lewis at Germany if I remember correctly.

      1. Not at all. Lewis’s front right disc shattered inside the cake tin, resulting in inconsistent & unbalanced braking at a key moment of deceleration.

        The car snatched to one side, pitching him into an area with little to no run off due to the track design.

    2. @jh1806
      From what I understood it wasn’t that the brakes didn’t work, there is a failsafe where if the brake and throttle (presumably high amounts of throttle) are used at the same time then the ECU assumes the throttle is stuck and cuts the engine, but the brake by wire system interfered with this.

      1. This is correct.

    3. One is tempted to ask ‘what is the point of scrutineering?’ when something with serious safety consequences slips the net. After all, the teams are required to crash test the chassis. Surely, it ought to be mandated that they also check the fail-safes and kill switches.

      1. The scrutineers’ responsibility is to discourage deliberate disregard for the rules, not guarantee that every rule has been followed every time a car enters the track. It is the teams’ responsibility to ensure the full compliance of the car and also to ensure that it’s safe to drive regardless of whether that’s guaranteed by specific rules. These systems are tremendously complex – after all, I’m sure that Marussia engineers thought their own checks had been thorough and they still missed the problem. For the sporting authority to undertake exhaustive testing of this sort would be prohibitive and undermine the actual duty of the teams.

      2. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
        4th December 2014, 5:08

        @sharoncom To avoid flexing wings or underweight cars?

    4. Well people do make mistakes and some mistakes are costly. I guess Bianchi was very unlucky to make a very expensive mistake. Normally he would have skidded and that’s it. Unfortunately for him he was in the wrong place and wrong time. The details of BBW and FailSafe are like filling documents just for the sake of it.

  2. It does seem like a lot of the blame has to be shouldered by Bianchi for this. I am actually pretty surprised the FIA were frank in the observations.

    1. Actually, it does seem like a lot of the blame has to be shouldered by Pirelli for this.

      Have people not noticed that since 2011 the wet tire performance has been horrible. It’s like they are doing rally cross on icy roads whenever there is any rain. I have never in my life seen drivers loose control while following a safety car (Hungary 2014).
      Have people not noticed how often races have been started un safety car &/or we wait until the track is almost dry before restarting?

      Bridgestone & Michelin did a much better job of providing grippier wet & intermediate tires.

      1. I don’t see them blaming Pirelli at all. And anyways, IIRC, Bianchi was on WORN INTERS.

        1. So a Pirelli tyre designed for wet weather? Cool

          1. Cool!?
            There’s nothing cool about this event or any subsequent changes.

        2. Bianchi was on 17-lap-old intermediates:

          2014 Japanese Grand Prix tyre strategies and pit stops: The context of Bianchi’s crash

          But surely the question here is had a better type of wet weather tyre been available, would he and other drivers have used that? See the quote from Vettel in that article for more on that.

          1. Thomas Martin
            3rd December 2014, 17:47

            Racing drivers are paid to race and whilst they shouldn’t under yellow flags we all know that every single driver pushes this limit. To simply blame Bianchi for losing control is very unfair. There should be a system in place to take away that responsibility from the driver – if he slowed down adequately he’d of lost valuable time and I’m sure Marussia would have been unimpressed – the same as with every other drive on the grid. He was massively unlucky, maybe not blameless but only as much to blame as every other driver who’s pushed it through a yellow zone which is all of them.

          2. Exactly.
            “water drainage on the extreme tyres is not as good as it probably should be”

            We know after 2012 & in this age of Formula One, drivers are not openly allowed to speak poorly about F1, especially the Pirelli’s.

          3. Presumably it depends on your definition of “better”. Surely a new set of full wets are less prone to aquaplaning than a set of worn inters, but do they go faster so long as the rubber remains in contact with asphalt in both cases? It seems the teams didn’t think so, and that seems to be the real problem here. You don’t just have to make safe tyres available, you also have to eliminate the moral hazard that incentivises teams not to use the safest tyres for performance reasons.

        3. The problem is that even when on new wets or inters, the Pirelli’s lack grip. It’s obvious compared to Bridgestones of years before.

          So if new they lack grip then Bianchi’s tyres had no grip.

      2. Pirelli has to develop wet tyres 1) without wet tests 2) without current cars. This is not easy.
        But I don’t understand how tyres have anything to do with this accident. Bianchi was on inters and did not changed them into wets. So it was their choice to stick with those tyres, and they were right because the track was not incredibly wet, times were not increasing much in the last couple of laps.

        1. That’s the point. The Pirelli wet weather tyres are so bad that they don’t use them until it’s almost so wet that the race gets red flagged anyway.

      3. @s2g-unit the report *specifically* says that no single factor contributed to the crash, but rather every factor together.

        All it says with regards to Pirelli is that some facility in the regs is needed to allow drivers to familiarise themselves with the performance of all tyres.

        1. do you believe the report will *specifically*point out Pirelli’s wet weather tyres are sub standard to compared to Bridgestone. Watch any wet session, they’re horrible. Cars slide all over, no traction. Looks like rallying. The lap times are horrible comapred to Bridgestone & Michelin era.

          1. With that logic you could say the same about Murussia. The cars slide all over, no traction compared to the Merc. Obviously Marrusia are not to blame. If the wets were grippier the drivers would just go faster and the amount they slow for yellows would be the same as now relative to their speed. The drivers will always be on the limit of the tyre grip, it’s their job.

      4. Prost going off on the formation lap Imola in the early 1990´s. So slow spinoffs have happened before.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cREfjN-BbAM

        1. Those happen a lot, but when they hit something going slow like that, only their ego is bruised.

          Although this one was close, but also at higher speed:
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vplk94sgKUA

      5. @s2g-unit Pirelli are actually doing a great job with the wet and inter tires given their resources. They’re allowed zero testing with them on 2014 F1 cars (don’t even think about calling the Jerez track-wetting tractor real wet-weather testing) and therefore of course the wet and Inter tires suck! Michelin and Bridgestone were allowed nearly unlimited testing, with access to places like Fiorano, with real track-wetting infrastructure.

      6. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
        4th December 2014, 5:17

        @s2g-unit Sebastian Vettel, Japan, 2007?

      7. “I have never in my life seen drivers loose control while following a safety car (Hungary 2014).”
        Then you have a pretty bad memory, or just didn’t pay attention.

        “Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen also had spins while behind the safety car, with Massa incurring a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow after his rotation.”
        Autosport, Japanese GP 2007: http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/62862

        “On lap 23, Schumacher lost control of his car going into turn six and spun his car into the gravel and into retirement. The spin alone was unbefitting of a seven-times world champion; the fact that it had occurred under the safety car made it even more embarrassing.”
        F1Fanatic, Chinese Grand Prix 2005: http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2010/04/07/top-ten-weirdest-f1-retirements/

        And many more.

    2. Yes a very frank report. Point number 4 seems to directly put the blame on him. Strange he would be breaking and accelerating after leaving the track.

      Forza Jules.

      1. Strange, but understandable. He probably saw what was coming and reacted on instinct.

        1. And he was travelling at 126kph across the gravel for only 2 seconds towards a tractor.. 2 seconds might be a long time in F1 lap time but not in this instance, they didn’t say what order he pressed the pedals only that he overlapped.

          Forza Jules

        2. Or panicked. Slamming both the brakes and the throttle while running off the track sounds like a panic reaction to me.

        3. To highlight that it was all Bianchi’s fault is unfair but is slightly due to his errors in not respecting the yellow flags! Another point is that the Brake-By-Wire system clearly has a flaw and is not fit for use in this instance – What was wrong with hydraulic brakes?
          Another argument to this that the tyres were not up to the job from Pirelli after 17 lap-old tyres should be able to last.
          My review of the driving too fast under yellows is cetainly what caused the main force to his accident and that is a fact due to lots of equations in physics such as momentum.

          Could a new system be added to Motorsport to Speed Limit under yellow flag conditions? like a pit limiter in the zone that is affected by an incident? The technology is out there and should be reviewed and considered for next season and many more seasons to come.

          1. @gremlinwon:
            “What was wrong with hydraulic brakes?”
            They had to be replaced by a BBW system, because otherwise, the energy harvesting by the ERS-K would have led to unpredictable and -controllable braking behaviour.

      2. Massa did the same thing in Hungary during his accident (althought obviously he was impared at the time). I think I remember his engine still being on from the audio, and two very long black lines from his front tyres (presumably). Doesn’t seem like the FailSafe system worked for that one, so maybe it was introduced since/because of Massa’s crash? It seems fairly new and I’m no computer technician, but I raise my eyebrows at the idea of a BBW system interfering with such a fundamental safety feature.

        1. @nase :
          You have a good point! but could the failure been realised and fixed? I say yes.
          But to my point about a limiter being set on the track under waved yellows is certainly possible and would have stopped in theory Biachi’s life threatening conditions.

          1. @gremlinwon:
            I think a limiter would cause more problem than it solves. You’d need a section that start with a very slow corner after which the limiter is applied so that there exists no danger of sudden braking and subsequent pile-ups.
            I’m actually confident that the planned Virtual Safety Car, that consists in setting relatively slow minimum times for a sector, will turn out to be a satisfactory solution that doesn’t interfere too much with racing, but increases safety.

    3. I have to say I completely agree with the FIA’s analysis. It is very honest and sensible, and to the point.

      1. agree, its no finger of blame being pointed at anyone individual or thing, but rather a succession of events that ultimately led to this happening. The recommendations are extremely sensible too.

      2. The only part I disagree with is the decision not to send out the Safety Car. In conditions where one car has aquaplaned, it’s always likely another could follow. It’s not like there haven’t been near misses before.

        1. Weren’t the Michelin & Bridgestone tyres also coupled with traction control? Seems like comparing apples and oranges to compare the grip of the Pirelli’s to that era.

          1. Oeiiiiiiiiiiii! (another davidnotcoulthard account) (@)
            4th December 2014, 5:22

            Not after Kimi won the championship, I think.

          2. Pink Peril, the period during which traction control was permitted (2001 – 2007) covers the period during which Michelin competed (2001 – 2006), but Bridgestone would have supplied tyres during a period when traction control wasn’t permitted.

            There were some complaints that, in 2008, teams were using a pseudo traction control system by enabling their drivers to shift between engine maps on track when they shifted gears (which could therefore limit the power output of the engines in lower gears), but from 2009 onwards there should have been fewer electronic aids to assist drivers.

    4. At last, an objective view on Bianchi’s case. It is refreshing to see, after all the sugary comments going on here and on other sites. I see that the posters as well are returning more to reality, finally!
      (If you’ll consider this as being trolling, please remove it and excuse me of the fact that I wasted some seconds of your time with checking this)
      Some lamentations, whining, and pathetic prayers surely felt improper and juvenile in my opinion – considering the circumstances and the sport under discussion.
      Permit me to judge considering the following facts:
      1. JB is a professional driver, thus should know existent risks involved in his profession.
      2. The regulations of the sport should be of no secret for him.

      1. You’re not wrong. You’re just being … not personable.
        Even before the report, it was pretty obvious that he made a mistake. That being said, there is more than enough to be learnt from such an accident, from the pressure on the driver that lead this error to measures that can be taken to further increase the safety of competitors and track personnel alike.

        Also, I can’t see anything wrong with feeling sorry for a young fellow who made a mistake and is at risk of losing his life because of it. Nothing juvenile or pathetic about it. Just people showing that faith in humanity is not lost, because empathy still exists.

  3. “It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the Start time of an event shall not be less than 4 hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races.”

    That’s good to read.

    1. @fer-no65, interestingly a lot of people (including on this site) were suggesting an earlier race time on Sunday due to the weather forecast.

      But Bernie, and the other guys in charge, decided against this due to risking their Live TV deals.

      1. @coldfly indeed, but at least now this is going to be written into the sporting regs from next year.

        If Bernie or the promoter do not agree with it, then the FIA would likely be required/forced to withdraw their support from the event and it would need to be run as a non-championship event with no FIA facilities (including the stewards, the safety car or Race Control).

      2. @coldfly – I don’t know if it is true, but it was reported many times before the race started and during the early SC laps that Bernie and the FIA asked Honda (who own Suzuka) to move the time up and Honda/Suzuka did not. Purportedly because they were worried fans would not be there in time and would miss out.

        Again, I don’t know if it’s true and the last thing I want to do is defend Bernie. But if what Brundle and the SkyF1 feed was saying is true, then it’s not Bernie’s or live TV’s fault. (please note the “IF”!)

      3. @coldfly I’ve read somewhere (maybe someone can point it out for me) that it was actually the organizers that didn’t want to change the start time, not FIA or whatever.

    2. @fer-no65:
      Quoted for truth.

    3. @fer-no65
      Yeah it’s about time they sorted this, it’s always worrying when they’re racing in low light

    4. That would be a sensible regulation to introduce. Having a 4-hour overall limit where some of it is in the dark is asking for silly decisions where cars end up racing in the dark – see Korea 2012.

      I am not sure that the low light levels contributed to Bianchi’s accident however.

      1. Wasn’t the later start time imposed on Suzuka by Ecclestone in the first place? I seem to recall that the Japanese GP used to start in the middle of the night (European time). I can understand that the organisers didn’t want to change it over the course of the weekend & incur lots of angry fans turning up during the closing laps…

  4. “and the section of the track where the accident occurred was subject to double yellow flags, due to Sutil’s crash.”

    it was clearly seen in the videos that appeared of the crash that a Green flag was being waved, how do they account for that?

    1. This was after the accident spot…

      1. it was clearly seen in the videos that appeared of the crash that a Green flag was being waved, how do they account for that?

        It’s depressing to see this misunderstanding come up again. It was explained exhaustively here:

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/10/08/2014-japanese-grand-prix-fans-video-gallery/

        And here:

        http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2014/10/06/marussia-ask-patience-wait-continues-details-bianchis-condition/#comment-2587699

    2. Sigh, we still have to deal with this. The green flag was for a spot further up the road. Let’s just be clear that there is absolutely NO dispute regarding this matter.

    3. Green light/flag was waved because the yellow flag zone had ended

    4. Obvious armchair expert knows it better than ten people who have spent weeks investigating this accident.

      The green flag was being waved after the accident site, and considering that F1 cars don’t travel backwards, there is no reason to have yellow flags one metre after the accident site.

      1. The flag is right next to the Sutil incident, id hardly say that was safe to wave the green flag.

        1. Not ‘next’, ‘after’, that is the crucial distinction here. See the links above.

          1. @keithcollantine @andae23

            You are almost correct in that it wouldn’t have made a difference to the accident as when Bianchi’s car impacted the crane, this was indeed before the flag so the green flag would not have applied to this point. They had shown double waved yellows a few moments earlier as the crane was still behind the flag post at the place where Sutil crashed, but changed to green when the crane had moved to before the flag post.

            However, the marshall still waved the green flag incorrectly: At the time of the impact and for the few seconds before that, a marshall (in a blue overall) was picking up debris (Sutil’s front wing?) a few metres after the flag post where Sutil hit the barrier. Double waved yellows should therefore still have been shown whilst that marshall was on track.

        2. The green flag marks the point where there is no longer any reason to go slow. It was close to the incident, but crucially it was furhter along the racetrack so safe for cars to accelerate once they passed the green flag.

          1. I doubt Bianchi ever saw the green flag, he was probably far more distracted by the presence of a large mobile crane.

    5. Briggers, around every circuit there are several marshal post, depending on the discipline of motorsport there will be yellow flags, waved yellows, single or double for example. At castlecombe when I last marshalled the flag marshal who shows the yellows will have his back to the cars and looking at the post down the road if an incident occurs. Basically between his/her post and the next post, if there is an incident, the yellows in whatever format they may be are shown, if an accident happens before your post the track is clear after your post and therefore a green flag is shown, the green flag in Japan is an example of this.

  5. During the 2 seconds Bianchi’s car was leaving the track and traversing the run-off area, he applied both throttle and brake together, using both feet. The FailSafe algorithm is designed to over-ride the throttle and cut the engine, but was inhibited by the Torque Coordinator, which controls the rear Brake-by-Wire system. Bianchi’s Marussia has a unique design of BBW, which proved to be incompatible with the FailSafe settings.

    The fact that the FailSafe did not disqualify the engine torque requested by the driver may have affected the impact velocity; it has not been possible to reliably quantify this. However, it may be that Bianchi was distracted by what was happening and the fact that his front wheels had locked, and been unable to steer the car such that it missed the crane.

    That’s quite interesting. All cars are supposed to have such a system, but for some reason the FIA never noticed that it didn’t work for Bianchi’s car? Will have to read the full report, but if that’s the case, that’s some sloppy work from the FIA to be honest.

    It is considered fundamentally wrong to try and make an impact between a racing car and a large and heavy vehicle survivable. It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it.

    That is exactly the conclusion I was hoping for.

    It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the Start time of an event shall not be less than 4 hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races. It is also recommended that the F1 Calendar is reviewed in order to avoid, where possible, races taking place during local rainy seasons.

    Pretty obvious, but sad it took an accident to get this one through. (and yet Korea’s 2015 round is scheduled just one month ahead of the rainy season..)

    1. Well, one month ahead still means “not in the rainy season”. By a satisfactory margin, I’d say.

    2. @andae23 the wording is a tad ambiguous, but I suspect they mention ‘Bianchi’s Marussia’ because it is the car in question. Chilton’s car likely had an identical system, but mentioning would just cloud the situation.

      My guess is a rule will be developed where the braking systems will be tested as part of the crash testing procedure where they test BBW systems for performance in the case of an emergency.

      1. I don’t know for sure, but I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that both Marussias had different equipment. We’ve seen quite drastic differences between the Caterhams, so maybe there were different parts in Bianchi’s car that required a different software. Or maybe the differences in driving styles are big enough to justify the development of individual BBW systems.
        However, as these systems are pretty new, I don’t have too much of an idea how these really work.

  6. Matthew Coyne
    3rd December 2014, 17:11

    Although I do agree that much of the blame must rest with Bianchi, the rules are not clear enough and I am surprised they do not bring that up.

    “Slow down and be prepared to stop”

    Slow down by how much? And be able to stop within what distance?

    “Slow down by at least 50% of your normal racing speed and be prepared to be able to stop within 50m”

    This statement is much easier to enforce (The first bit certainly as you have the car telemetry, the second bit would be more difficult to enforce but still provides a numerical reference for drivers to use to judge the situation)

    I disagree that skirting around recovery vehicles is a bad idea though, of course the goal has got to be stopping such an incident occurring but if the worst is to happen then a driver is far more likely to survive an impact involving high deceleration G-forces into a skirt than physically going under the vehicle which has the high possibility of decapitation and thus certain death.

    We have seen many accidents that involve supposedly non-survivable G-forces over the years where drivers have been ok. If a skirt had been present in this incident with the angle he came in at (From the video we have seen) it looks like he would have hit the skirt at an angle and most importantly his head would not have taken a direct impact.

    1. They didn’t bring it up as a contributing cause but it referred to here:

      Recommendations:

      A number of recommendations for improvements have been proposed, relevant in many cases to all of motorsport. They include the following:

      1. A new regulation for double yellow flags:

      Proposed new Appendix H Article (possibly under 2.4.5.1 b):

      The Clerk of the Course will impose a speed limit in any section of track where double yellow flags are being displayed.

      It is proposed that a Working Group, made up of FIA Race Directors and Stewards should meet and draw up detailed regulations and guidelines for the application of this new regulation, in time to apply it in 2015 across international circuit racing.

    2. You also have to bear in mind this was his second lap after Sutil’s off, so he would (should) have been aware of the waved yellows and the track conditions at that point.

      1. Matthew Coyne
        3rd December 2014, 18:40

        I understand that, but in the modern world you cannot make a statement like he didn’t slow down enough when the rules do not clearly state how much you should slow down by.

      2. @baron nope, it was established that given how close they were, Bianchi’s was clear past Sutil by the time the marshals and the tractor approached.

        He lost control next time around, unaware of the heavy plant on the scene and arrived at the scene of his own accident.

        1. But he must have been aware Sutil had gone off/ I made no distinction concerning the marshalls and tractor, just that there was an incident at that point.

      3. Sutil was 2 seconds behind Bianchi when Sutil crashed. Bianchi may not have seen Sutil crash nor been informed of it or the crane by his engineer.

    3. The phrase ‘slow down and prepare to stop’ appears in several places in the Highway Code. It isn’t complicated or difficult — it means think about the likely hazards, applying common sense, and slow down in order to give yourself enough reaction time to stop if one of these hazards arises. The common sense element is crucial: you can’t just say ‘allow 50m’ (or any number of metres) because sometimes 50m will not be enough.

      All qualified drivers are capable of doing this, so — with the exception of Max Verstappen — I expect all F1 drivers are capable of doing it too.

      In F1, the likely hazard indicated by double waved yellows is a stricken car on or near the track. In this context, ‘slow down and prepare to stop’ means slow sufficiently to enable you to stop before such an obstruction, if it suddenly appears in your path.

      In practice, that usually means slowing down quite a lot. Prior to Bianchi’s accident, a culture of ignoring this rule had developed, as revealed by Perez’s idiotic comments after the accident about the need to lift the throttle a bit for the FIA. That culture has to change. It puts the lives of marshals at risk — not just the lives of drivers.

  7. While we’ve all been horrified by Jules’ accident, and followed his recovery with hope, it’s not for nothing that the racing etiquette of younger drivers who have come up from gp2 and other formulas has been questioned by drivers, fans and commentators.

    Bianchi got his team 9th place in the constructor’s at Monaco, but if you re watch how he did it, it wasn’t a racing move, it was a dangerous, bullying, wheel-banging shove. Interlocking wheels could have sent either car flying into a marshal or the crowd. Is that “racing instinct”? Jim Clark would never have done it, and he’s far greater than almost anyone could ever be. I’d argue it’s not, it’s just blind rage or panic.

    We don’t have a replay to watch, but traveling at 126kph through double yellows in the pouring rain on worn tyres of the wrong type just isn’t showing due concern for safety. Drivers aren’t gods, they all make mistakes, but a driver must have judgement of when it’s safe to try something. Sadly, the younger generation like Grosjean, Maldonado, Cecotto and Canamasas have shown that this judgement isn’t being nurtured, taught, or punished appropriately. Grosjean’s race ban was the first time I saw dangerous driving even slightly punished. Will buxton came to the conclusion he should quit GP2 because the horrific driving behaviour and delinquent attitude of Canamasas wasn’t being addressed seriously enough.

    The FIA needs to take a hard look at *all* the events it runs and start enforcing the idea that flags, speed limits, and safety must be respected. Drivers have been getting away with bad or dangerous behaviour for far too long. Waiting till they get to f1 is too late.

    1. Other difficult questions: why have two horrific accidents happened to relatively inexperienced drivers in cars run by the same team? What happened with the brake by wire design and the failsafe? Why was a truck with its tailgate down sitting near a garage, in the line of a racing car’s path? Were there team operational failures which contributed to either accident?

      After 1994 the fia has the courage to ask blame-free questions about almost every aspect of racing. It should have the courage to do it again now, even though the victims aren’t famous champions.

      1. @hairs I was under the impression that the ambiguous statement made by Marussia with regard to MdV’s accident was because telemetry showed she basically lost control and went well off course into a truck that wasn’t anywhere near where her car was expected to be.

        Whether or not the protocol regarding the tail-lift was wrong or not, I don’t think the team, as such, were ever blamed for the accident, other than by association of them owning the car.

        1. Pre accident, marussia came in for much criticism hiring Maria, whom many felt wasn’t qualified to be in an F1 car at all. If driver error was a factor, should the team have chosen a driver who potentially wasn’t up to the demands? Is the necessity to take on pay drivers of limited ability a dangerous thing in these complex cars?

      2. Yeah, strange that Maria de Villota and Jules Bianch were both in Marussias when they had their serious (fatal in Maria’s case) head injuries…

      3. I don’t see the two accidents bearing much relation to each other, apart from being built by the same team. Maria de Villota ought to have been qualified enough to conduct a straight-line test. I can’t find support for any argument that Bianchi lacked the qualifications to race in F1. I suppose that was the point of the panel’s suggestion that new Superlicense holders take a familiarisation test.

      4. I read Maria de Villota wasnt even going very fast when she lost control, or something for that effect.

    2. The problem with your point regarding Bianchi’s speed is that there is no clear cut rule for double yellows. Exercise caution and be prepared to stop, that’s the rule or thereabouts isn’t it? How much caution do you exercise though? In a high pressure situation where the rules don’t tell you how much to slow, you go as fast as you feel you can get away with. Don’t hate the players, hate the game (or the rules in this case).

      Reducing your speed by a certain percentage might work in some places but not others, especially in the wet. As explained in the article, there was a sudden change in the conditions of the racing line, it went from partially wet to completely wet at the point where the water was draining onto it. So a “safe” speed may have become an “unsafe” speed in the space of a few inches, something any mortal couldn’t react to, therefore i don’t think you can put this down to young driver recklessness, note sutil was caught out by the same puddle

      1. The rule doesn’t lack clarity, it places too much faith in driver judgement and interpretation. Lack of judgement in drivers it’s my whole point.

        Drivers like Alonso can follow this rule with no issues.

    3. This: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKWXKXUEZIQ
      Looks like legitimate pass to me. A bit rough but if you leave the door open someone will go through it.

      1. I don’t agree. He has to use his car to physically shove the other driver out of the way.

        That’s not “leaving the door open” at all.

        1. That was certainly a dumb move, but in Monaco most moves are dumb.

    4. I really wouldn’t put Bianchi in the thug category with Canamasas and our Venezuelan friends. Grosjean was more lacking in spatial awareness rather than reckless. What I would say is that Bianchi has had a few too many punishments during his career for failing to react sufficiently to yellow flags that ought to have rung alarm bells. He has paid a high price for that now.

      #ForzaJules

      1. Well, I look at it as “bad driving standards” overall. Maldonado is a dangerous scumbag who almost killed a marshal and has used his car as a revenge weapon more than once, and expressed pride about it. Canamasas’ behaviour is equally reprehensible.

        On the “dangerously clueless” scale, I’d place Grosjean up to his race ban. His improvement since then shows that proper mentoring and issuing meaningful punishments for bad driving will work.

        However there’s an overall lack of consideration in the GP2/3 graduates for safety, pushing the limits, and car control. Too often they treat it like a stock car race, and they simply won’t pay any attention to flags or warnings. Start handing out bans and they’ll start to behave.

  8. I’m not impressed. This smacks of a CYA job more than a “report.”

    3. Bianchi did not sufficiently slow…
    What would have been sufficient? At many races in the past we have seen driver after driver go off at the same corner, being well able to see the run-off being full of cars. The issue with aquaplaning is that it may not matter what speed you are going. Cars have gone off behind the SC in the wet. The FIA should consult a high school driving instructor. Here, the race was not under control, so Bianchi had to guess how much to slow. As the report says, the racing line was abruptly narrowed by a river of water the previous lap. But Bianchi we must assume was too stupid to notice this.

    6. Bianchi over-controlled the oversteering car…
    They dismiss hindsight for their part in point 5 but find occasion to slate the steering input of an F1 driver. And how do they know that “good” “correction” would have resulted in a different trajectory? That was pointless and callous. When you aquaplane off the road, barring telekentic powers, you will now proceed a great speed in a straight line tangent to your former arc.

    7. …Bianchi applied both brake and throttle
    I find this a very strange criticism of Bianchi and Marussia. Overlap has been commonly used in F1 cars as a driving technique for a long time. Bianchi is not an amateur and he is familiar with the behavior of his car—presumably he was trying to control the torque of the engine at the wheels by this method. They are talking about the guy like he was some dentist who smashed up his 911 at an HPDE. Again, gratuitous and pointless comments, unless one’s aim is to deflect blame.

    We are told that nothing was wrong with procedures or practice, or the tires, and that you can’t protect the crane. But at the very end of this we’re told it is “It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it.” It’s imperative. But how, pray tell do you do that? They have basically said, the answer is don’t drive like Bianchi and don’t drive a Marussia. That doesn’t work.

    In a way, they answer their own question in that gratuitous mansplanation of the forces involved in hitting a crane with a car—if the acceleration cannot be abated, and if a collision is only avoided by genius driving skill, maybe you should not have racing when there is a crane/ambulance/medical car in the run-off. If there is a wreck that seriously damages the arcmo or displaces tire barriers, the race is under SC or suspended until that is fixed. But when there is a giant crane inside the barriers, well just carry on and watch out for those sudden rivers, boys. This is such a simple solution it’s mind boggling why they take such pains to avoid it.

    1. Finally, some common sense. It seems so freaking obvious but there are very few in this comment thread that agree with you/us.

    2. @dmw – Agreed.

      One could take out the name Bianchi and insert the name Brundle in this report and we are magically transported back to 1994. With no more real solutions than what we had then.

      This is one of the most bothersome conclusions to me:
      “5. The actions taken following Sutil’s accident were consistent with the regulations, and their interpretation following 384 incidents in the preceding eight years. Without the benefit of hindsight, there is no apparent reason why the Safety Car should have been deployed either before or after Sutil’s accident.”

      I’m sure the attorneys have approved this statement and then the committee mentions an impressive number of incidents, “384”, where apparently nobody collided with a heavy tractor. Just because this type of incident has not happened in eight years or 384 incidents doesn’t mean it will not happen again. Sorry to repeat this, but please ask Martin Brundle what he thinks about it.

      Race Control should have as much knowledge, information and expertise at their disposal as a former driver/race commentator. Every incident and track is different, but Race Control has the option to call a safety car before allowing a heavy tractor, track marshals or other rescue equipment onto or near a live racetrack. Since this track was saturated, especially in this area of the track where known incidents have happened, this knowledge should have been taken into consideration. It is a different situation than, for example, a completely dry track with no danger of aquaplaning across the same exact water stream on a track that is already saturated from heavy rains.

      from the report:
      “It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it.”

      One point I completely agree with. But the recommendations likely won’t prevent this, no matter how “imperative”, if Race Control doesn’t do a better job keeping them apart.

  9. SennaNmbr1 (@)
    3rd December 2014, 17:37

    An even briefer summary is that in wet conditions with poor visibility a driver lost control and hit a recovery vehicle tending to another driver who lost control and no-one is to blame for it.

    While it’s not a freak accident it’s just unfortunate. Martin Brundle has been mentioning it in his commentaries for years since he hit a marshal in Japan and it seems that if a solution has been looked for, none has been found.

    While I wouldn’t like F1 to become like Indycar where a driver only needs to lock a wheel and the SC is out, there must be a middle-ground between that and double yellow flags.

  10. Glad to see the FIA doesn’t let sensitivity come into the report and tells the hard truths (Jules should’ve slowed, preventing with physical changes won’t work). I feel terrible for Jules and his family but it is true that a driver going too fast in a danger zone is risking lives, not just his own, and the FIA needs to get on top of that. Still hoping for some good news about his condition

  11. The report is very detailed, it reveals several things that were not publicly known before and I agree with the recommendations. Still, I have got a feeling that FIA has passed the buck here, at least when it comes to this conclusion:

    If drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags, as set out in Appendix H, Art. 2.4.5.1.b, then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger.

    If there is nothing wrong with the rules and drivers should simply follow them to avoid danger, then why are there seven recommendations? Why do we need speed limits or earlier start times at several races? I think there is an obvious contradiction.

    What I miss here is conclusion #12: Some of the current rules, such as Appendix H, Art. 2.4.5.1.b, are incomplete, the calendar and the start times increase safety risks and the FIA bears part of the blame for that.

  12. It seems to be a robust report based on above summary.

    But I miss one big thing. The report blames Bianchi for not slowing down enough in a double waved yellow zone. But from the GPS trackers we could see that many other drivers did not slow down either. And I am sure that in the past drivers did not slow down in line with regulations either (enough to be ‘prepared to stop’).
    Why has such an important safety rule been left unpunished in the past? Why are they focussing on radio bans and white lines where they should have been much stricter on this vital rule? What were the FIA/Charlie/safety stewards doing?
    It is still wrong and against the rules to ‘speed’ in such a zone, but we all know that drivers and teams constantly test and stretch the rules. And unfortunately they have done that here as well with very serious consequences.

    1. Because nobody cares until someone dies (or gets a severe injury).

      Yes, it would have been nice to see a report of how other drivers went through the yellow zones. This report smells of a cop-out. “Hey, Bianchi was going too fast, nothing else wrong here. Just obey the rules we aren’t enforcing. Oh, and even though nothing else was wrong, here are some recommendations. But nothing was wrong eh, the report would have been too short otherwise.”

      Bianchi is to blame, at least partially. He obviously was going faster than what was safe. What the report could mention what exactly are the contents of Appendix H, Art. 2.4.5.1.b. As far as I know, the order from Charlie regarding yellow sectors is that the drivers have to do the sector with the flag 2 tenths slower than their personal best (4 tenths for double yellow sectors). That’s hardly a safe speed.

      The report could also mention what other drivers did through the double yellow. Hell, make it every double yellow flag that has happened this season. They have all the data, study it! See if there’s a trend, or if this was a singular event. If it is a trend, then maybe they should throw a bit of the blame against a mirror. If a student fails a test, it’s the student’s fault. If a whole class fails a test, fire the teacher.

      And safety rules shouldn’t be left to any interpretation. After all, chassis safety regulations are very tight, with specific tests to ensure they follow the regulations. Imagine if all the regulation said is “The car should ensure the safety of the driver in case of a collision”.

    2. “The report blames Bianchi for not slowing down enough in a double waved yellow zone. But from the GPS trackers we could see that many other drivers did not slow down either.”

      The difference being ofcourse that it was Jules that went off and had this accident and not the other drivers. Its sad and unfortunate and just as easily could have been someone else.

      I think its a result of that complacency that occurs when people start to believe that nothing bad can happen. People honestly believed pre-1994 that Formula 1 was a much safer sport, but it took 2 deaths to correct that. Now im not saying that people believe that now, but when we see crashes such as Webber’s Valencia crash, or what happened at Spa the other year, and the drivers walk away, it will plant that seed no matter how much we try and convince ourselves otherwise.

      Maybe now drivers will slow down a lot more to comply with rules, or force the FIA/Stewards to take more action to correct such behaviour. It wont help Jules now, but it might just stop history repeating itself.

      1. What action can they take that would have the desired effect? Bianchi himself has been punished on a number of occasions before for failing to comply with yellow flags (including a drive-through penalty that cost him a victory in F3). Either he had a blind spot with flag discipline or the regulations on how much to slow are not clear enough.

  13. If you have cars including back of the grid teams on shoe string budgets running round on worn intermediates and someone aqua planes off into the gravel stopping in a position that requires recovery by an unsafe and highly dangerous tractor… Use a safety car !!!

    1. Having a 4-5+ lap safety car was completely unnecisary given how minor Sutil’s off was & how quickly they would have had it cleared.

      They were probably 10-15 seconds away from having Sutil’s car recovered behind the barrier only around 2 minutes after he went off.

      I don’t want F1 to become like America where there are a dozen safety cars every race, Thats one of the primary reasons I don’t want American racing, Seeing constant safety cars killing the flow of the races & taking up so much time away from the actual racing isn’t what i want to see.

  14. It is proposed that a regulation or guideline be established such that the Start time of an event shall not be less than 4 hours before either sunset or dusk, except in the case of night races.

    If such a rule is going to be enforced, then the start time will have to be changed for at least five races:

    Australia – sunset at 19:40 on 15/03/2015, race start at 17:00 in 2014
    Malaysia – sunset at 19:22 on 29/03/2015, race start at 16:00 in 2014
    China – sunset at 18:20 on 12/04/2015, race start at 15:00 in 2014
    Japan – sunset at 17:44 on 27/09/2015, race start at 15:00 in 2014
    Russia – sunset at 17:46 on 11/10/2015, race start at 15:00 in 2014

    1. I hope they do. What’s the point in racing in countries all over the world when the TV times only seem to take Europe into account? I like the races in Australia, Japan and so on, but I really don’t like twilight races or floodlight races. There’s a reason we were born with eyes that see best when the sun is shining.

      1. @nase The TV market is Euro-biased because that’s where the market is.

        Of course, you can already see Bernie rubbing his hands together, working out ways to con races into becoming official night races so as to dodge this regulation.

  15. To highlight that it was all Bianchi’s fault is unfair but is slightly due to his errors in not respecting the yellow flags! Another point is that the Brake-By-Wire system clearly has a flaw and is not fit for use in this instance – What was wrong with hydraulic brakes?
    Another argument to this that the tyres were not up to the job from Pirelli after 17 lap-old tyres should be able to last.
    My review of the driving too fast under yellows is cetainly what caused the main force to his accident and that is a fact due to lots of equations in physics such as momentum.

    Could a new system be added to Motorsport to Speed Limit under yellow flag conditions? like a pit limiter in the zone that is affected by an incident? The technology is out there and should be reviewed and considered for next season and many more seasons to come.

    1. They tested speed limit under yellows in Abu Dhabi and the drivers didn’t like it and expressed major concerns. Virtual Safety Car is going to be used as the solution to force drivers to slow down

      1. “They tested speed limit under yellows in Abu Dhabi and the drivers didn’t like it and expressed major concerns.”

        Anthony Davidson also said on Sky that WEC may not use them on shorter circuits because of how unfair a slow zone can be. He pointed out that a concern of the drivers was that if you go through a slow zone but its cleared before the next car goes through then that car can easily gain 10-20 seconds on you.

        He said that drivers feel that slowing everybody down via the virtual safety car is a much fairer way of doing it as nobody should gain or lose time.

        1. @PeterG

          That could really be addressed easily: simply make sure that all cars go through the slow zone the same number of times (i.e. only lift the speed limit after exactly 1, 2, 3, etc laps). Only in rare cases if there is an overtake between specific cars would a car gain an advantage.

          1. It wasn’t just about fairness or gaining an advantage, there were other concerns such as rear end collisions.

            If the double yellow was lifted after a car had entered the speed limited zone then that car would have to continue at the reduced speed until the next green signal, a following car could enter the same zone at full racing speed after the double yellow has been lifted and then come across the “limited” car ahead, the big difference in speeds was considered to be a significant safety risk. There was also the problem of sudden braking entering the zone as happens now for the pitlane speed limit line.

            All the drivers, except Massa, preferred the virtual safety car system that they had previously tested.

    2. What was wrong with hydraulic brakes?

      The problem is the bias needs to change so quickly because the ERS acts as a brake on the rear axle when harvesting, I guess it also varies the amount of retardation so the rear brakes would be all over the place with a standard system.

  16. Why it’s not right to blame Bianchi when he is fighting for his life, his failure to slow down sufficiently in the yellow flag period put the lives of the marshals at risk too. The marshals helping with the recovery of Adrian Sutils’s car could have easily put themselves in the path of the Marussia and it would have been a very bloody scene…

  17. “6. F1 risk review

    Consideration will be given to a review of F1 risk, in order to ascertain whether there are any significant holes in the safety defences, such that an unforeseen combination of circumstances could result in a serious accident.”

    Please tell me I’m reading this wrong. Tell me that F1 has the money to employ 3 or 4 people to do this continuously as a full time job. I have no words to describe how soul-crushing this sentence is. Am I mad, or is the world mad?

  18. I’ve only read what portion of the report is posted here, and I haven’t read all the comments yet so if I’m missing something I apologize.

    I’m glad to see the reference made to not starting within 4hrs of sundown (on non-lit tracks I presume). As I think that is part of the issue. And I’m happy they included discussion of Bianchi’s input because, as unfortunate as it is to talk about, if it’s a key factor then it should be reported as such.

    But I’m not pleased that they didn’t report on the lack of SC deployment. I don’t necessarily think that a SC has to come out every time a tractor/truck is picking up a car. But when conditions are such that drivers are calling for the race to be stopped, it’s super dark and wet and cool/cold, then I think more caution should be used when a car goes off or stops on track or marshalls are recovering a car or another vehicle is in the area. Yes, it is unlikely that a car would go off right there and right then, but if one can, and conditions were as bad as they were, then just use a bloody SC. Or at least give lengthy explanation in the report as to why the FIA thinks it wasn’t warranted.

    1. They did report on the lack of safety car. They noted that tractor-assisted recovery had been done ~384 prior times during a live race without incident and the overall conditions at the time were not judged to be SC-worthy.

      It’s sounds like dodging the question, but at least they have provided hard data.

      1. Interestingly, I guess this was one of those 384 times:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhrO1k4V39M

        So it’s not like there’s no precedent of cars going off the track when there’s a recovery vehicle out.

        1. Actually that was one of the times a SC was deemed necessary, The safety car had actually already been deployed at the time the last car went off that day-

          http://youtu.be/P3t56uLqlVI?t=2m18s

      2. @optimaximal @casjo – Is that all they said? Because that is an incomplete data set and analysis. How many times have cars gone off at the same spot? How many times have cars hit cars off circuit? etc.

        And as for the SC, I understand that they deemed it unnecessary, but I think–given the circumstances and certainly with hindsight–that they were wrong. I can honestly say that as soon as Sutil went off I said (out loud but to myself) that they should bring out a SC. Useless, I know. But that they won’t even admit that now, is concerning to me.

        I’m glad they at least addressed it even if I don’t find what they said, how they said it, or their apparent lack of support to be satisfactory.

  19. 396 pages and it sounds like they’re going to carry on with bog standard 6-ton cranes driving around in the target zone while race cars circulate? Unless something hasn’t made it into the summary.

    They seem to have assumed that car/crane impacts will all be at 126 kph. Well we saw Ericsson go off behind the SC. If a crane had been in the way he could have died at 10 kph when his head was what had to slow his car down.

    There will still be worn wets and bald inters. There will be surface water, however shallow. Cars will go wrong and drivers will make mistakes.

    They say “It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane” and I thought ‘great’ but then I saw “THE crane”. So I’m doubtful this committee of senior officials ever got their thinking straight. It’s an old truth that in such a meeting the top item on each delegate’s agenda is their own self-esteem.

    Take “It is considered fundamentally wrong to try and make an impact between a racing car and a large and heavy vehicle survivable”. That’s so beguiling isn’t it? Wise. I can just see everyone nodding. Did nobody actually think about it?

    Well I hope I’m wrong and somewhere there’s a clause saying ‘Leave the crane behind the barriers unless it has skirts, until the risk conditions have changed. Use a long freaking rope.”

    1. @lockup That is why certain things have been proposed:

      “The Clerk of the Course will impose a speed limit in any section of track where double yellow flags are being displayed.”

      “Guidelines on circuit drainage will be reviewed, to include drainage off access roads.”

      “Consideration will be given to a review of F1 risk, in order to ascertain whether there are any significant holes in the safety defences, such that an unforeseen combination of circumstances could result in a serious accident.”

      If it can be ensured that nobody is going to hit a heavy vehicle, then there is no need to make an impact between a racing car and a heavy vehicle survivable.

      I have absolutely nothing against racing cars circulating whilst there exists recovery vehicles on the same circuit. What I do have something against is a grey area in a regulation which says ‘slow down’. If drivers are forced to circulate in an area at say 80kph where a recovery vehicle is present, you dramatically reduce the risk of something going wrong. A collision at 10kph is far less likely to be as life-threatening due to the reduced speed. It’s not the speed that hurts, it’s the sudden deceleration. Slowing down immediately from 126kph is going to hurt far more than slowing down from 10kph.

      1. @craig-o Yes those measures will reduce risk to a lower lever BUT if an F1 car slides under a crane then the driver’s head is quite likely to hit the crane directly.

        The head is braced by the roll hoop so the 700 kg car will be brought to a sudden halt by forces exerted on the helmet and head. They will fracture and crush easily, so that even at very low speeds the impact will be fatal.

        This is the big risk with cranes, and the committee doesn’t seem to have addressed it.

        They airily dismissed crane usage and skirts because Bianchi’s accident was at high speed; but most aren’t.

  20. I still don’t think Jules could see the double yellows through the rain.

    And he probably panicked by hitting both the throttle and brake at the sand time.

    1. He would have seen the flashing yellow lights on his dash, and would have been told about the accident by the team.

  21. Race should of been stopped long before the accident… SINCE it was not stopped, as in past races under the same conditions, the safety car should of been leading the parade for safety sake…. I thoroughly enjoy seeing the F1 races in wet or rainy conditions but this was way beyond common sense. Thanks, Norris

  22. From the summary it seems like the panel did a thorough and proper research, the outcomes of which seem pretty fair. Rather than looking in one direction (who is to blame, what should be done, what happened here specifically) it seems pretty balanced.

    The proposals seems well thought out and I hope the FIA takes a good look at them. The starting times and rain season tips have been things I’ve always heard a lot of people talk about and am happy an official panel has suggested the FIA looks into them.

    I also have to say I’m somewhat relieved they’re not afraid to mention Bianchi’s part in the accident. Perhaps even more so there is no comment from Keith or fellow F1 Fanatics, that over-simplify those lines into ‘putting the blame on Bianchi’. If anything, I think the conclusions don’t point blame at one factor alone.

    I’d rather this report not be necessary..

  23. One shot. Acted alone. Now go home.

  24. Does any one else think it’s harsh to blame Bianchi for speeding under double yellows? Drivers have been pushing the boundaries on this for years so the FIA must accept responsibility for not addressing this earlier in my opinion.

    1. No it’s not hard because it is true. It’s the same a in normal car. The traffic law (at least in our country) says that a driver must drive at speeds appropriate to conditions, without specifying any value. If you loose traction and have an accident, it is interpreted as an evidence that your speed was not appropriate (barring some other problems-technical etc.) and you are deemed guilty of breaching the said regulation.

      Moreover, the report does not say “Bianchi did it”, it explicitly states that it was a combination of factors (Bianchi being one of them), so picking just one of the factors and getting worked up about it is a reader’s problem, not the report’s.

      I’d say the report is quite fair with one important exception: It does not clearly say “FIA contributed by not enforcing the double-yellow speed reduction on previous occassions”.

      1. How ridiculous. You’re comparing F1 rules to road rules.

        How could any person with a hint of common sense even remotely agree with this report, or call it “fair”. What a load of rubbish.

        Bianchi was not to blame in the slightest. Absolutely 0%. He was a factor only because he was the unfortunate driver to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

        The FIA and race control are 100% at fault.

        The rules state that drivers are to do lap times slower than their best by around a half second during yellow flags. Every driver and every team has been pushing the limits in this area for ever. It’s F1, they push the limits of every area. That’s what they do best. The team and driver cannot bear any responsibility for the FIA’s poor rules and decisions.

        An accident like this has been a long time coming, and with the lack of responsibility taken by the FIA another is inevitable.

  25. No mention of any Marussia team radio messages in the FIA analysis of the crash.. why?

    Seems odd given the malicious rumours about the team telling Jules to speed up. If that were the case the FIA would have cited it as a factor, it therefore wasn’t. So why wasn’t there reference to any team messages to Jules?

    Would there have been a team message to say he wasn’t under threat from Sutil, heavy spray may mean Jules wasn’t aware of this? Under normal circumstances most certainly, but this was very shortly after the team radio restrictions and they may have been unsure what was allowed when advising the driver about what was happening behind him.

    So how long did the team have to make up their mind what to tell Jules? The TV commentators were unsure who had crashed to bring out the recovery vehicle, only Sauber would know from Sutil’s radio. The other teams would not know until their cars did or didn’t come past the pit wall. When Jules came past on his own Marussia would have had about 20 seconds to decide whether to tell him Sutil was no longer there, could you be sure of the new interpretation of the rule in that time, I certainly couldn’t. That there was no mention in the FIA analysis suggests Marussia didn’t advise Jules that Adrian wasn’t there.

    Team radio messages seem to have crept back to a point very close to where they were before the ‘rule clarification’, no penalties have been issued and the FIA have not changed anything for the coming year.

    Seems to me the FIA have realised it wasn’t a good idea to be so pedantic and safety has indeed been compromised.

  26. After sleeping on it I still think it’s a poor report.

    The point of a gravel trap is to be a safe place to go off. If they stick a standard crane on it then it becomes deadly, but they casually dismissed that issue.

    Likewise they didn’t consider WHEN corner workers should emerge to retrieve a car or how innocuous a parked racecar is compared to a crane, nor alternatives to cranes.

    I do think there was some victim-blaming, too. Circuit safety is supposed to assume there will be offs, not focus on what an individual driver did wrong. It’s quite possible Bianchi’s unexpected panic was caused by seeing the crane there, in any case.

  27. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    4th December 2014, 15:38

    I, FOR ONE , AM GOING TO SPEAK MY MIND OUT ABOUT THIS!!!

    It’s unconscionable that the FIA would blame a driver who is unable to defend himself and has lost his career and possibly his life in this accident.

    Bianchi was NOT the only who went off. Sutil had gone off and the crane was there to remove Sutil’s car. Did the FIA forget that?

    Although I don’t recall the specifics of the race, we did see other drivers having trouble keeping their cars in control.

    IT WAS THE FAULT OF THE FOLKS WHO DECIDED TO HAVE THE RACE IN THOSE CONDITIONS! MAN UP AND TAKE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR YOUR DECISIONS ESPECIALLY WHEN THEY HAVE LIFE RAMIFYING CONSEQUENCES.

    No one should be sacked but they need to responsibility and learn from this. Of course the decision was made under duress and they need to come up with a better and safer way for deciding if the race should be held – when in doubt, the drivers need to be the ones making the final decision without any intervention from any other party.

  28. Brake and throttle applied for 2 seconds ?

    Is it possible Jules had a stuck throttle and thats why data shows he depressed both ?

  29. @freelittlebirds

    I truly do understand your arguments here,

    Wasnt it Sutils car stuck in the middle of the road with marshalls running across a hot track ?

    The FIA “do” i believe have to stand up and assume some responsibility here ,

    maybe they will behind closed
    doors ?

    Everyone knows what the outcome would have been had this accident happened in dry conditions ,

    Precedents have been set long ago and the Clerk of course has allowed this practise of maintaining high speeds to happen ,

    Slowing half a second ?
    I believe all this does is delay an accident by a similiar amount of time ,

    The teams also have to answer the call as well ,
    Understandably its
    ” push push push” but safety of lives is paramount , long gone are the 60’s thank the Gods ,

    The responsability must be taken away from teams and therefore drivers to do the right thing under yellows !

    In the F1 world of infinate data , a rule saying slow down enough to stop or change course is a matter of 1000 differing opinions !

    Set a number in ink ,
    Go +1 and you pay
    Tweak the rule till its right ,

    Please excuse me , i have Ale and Xmas cake to tend to,

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