F1 launches Bianchi crash in­ves­ti­ga­tion

F1 Racing - - F1 INSIDER -

Ac­ci­dent panel to look into ways of mak­ing F1 safer in af­ter­math of Suzuka in­ci­dent

The FIA has set up a spe­cial ‘ac­ci­dent panel’ fol­low­ing Jules Bianchi’s crash at the Ja­panese Grand Prix, to “gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of what hap­pened and pro­pose new mea­sures to re­in­force safety at cir­cuits”.

Marus­sia racer Bianchi was left with se­vere head in­juries after his car went off the road at the fast Dun­lop curve and col­lided with a re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle that had been de­ployed to re­trieve the Sauber of Adrian Su­til, which had crashed on the pre­vi­ous lap.

Bianchi suf­fered a dif­fuse ax­onal in­jury in the ac­ci­dent. As F1 Rac­ing closed for press, he re­mained in a crit­i­cal but sta­ble con­di­tion in hos­pi­tal in Ja­pan.

The FIA’s ac­ci­dent panel is formed of for­mer team bosses Ross Brawn and Ste­fano Domeni­cali, two-time For­mula 1 world cham­pion Emer­son Fit­ti­paldi, driv­ers’ rep­re­sen­ta­tive Alexan­der Wurz, and sur­geon Pro­fes­sor Gérard Sail­lant, the pres­i­dent of the FIA med­i­cal com­mis­sion, among oth­ers. The group will be led by Peter Wright, the pres­i­dent of the FIA safety com­mis­sion and for­mer tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor of the orig­i­nal Team Lo­tus.

Although cur­rent safety pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed cor­rectly after Bianchi’s ac­ci­dent, the panel will in­ves­ti­gate whether th­ese pro­ce­dures now need up­dat­ing. They will also look at whether spe­cific changes need to be made to the de­sign of cars, cir­cuits or even tyres to re­duce the like­li­hood of some­thing like this hap­pen­ing again. Th­ese are the key ar­eas upon which the panel is likely to con­cen­trate: THE RE­COV­ERY VE­HI­CLE The fo­cus has in­evitably fallen on the pres­ence of the trac­tor on the track and there is now wide­spread ac­cep­tance that it is not safe for cars to con­tinue at close to rac­ing speeds, even with waved dou­ble yel­low flags, with such ve­hi­cles on the track side of the bar­ri­ers.

This is a point Martin Brun­dle has been mak­ing for the past 20 years, ever since he nar­rowly avoided hit­ting a crane after los­ing con­trol at another wet race in Suzuka in 1994.

Race di­rec­tor Charlie Whit­ing is, how­ever, of the belief that re­cov­ery ve­hi­cles are still needed. F1 is re­luc­tant to follow the prac­tice used in US rac­ing, in which a Safety Car pe­riod is in­tro­duced when­ever a car goes off the track. SPEED CON­TROL Steps have al­ready been taken on this front. Teams want to re­move con­trol of the speed of the cars away from the driv­ers in yel­low-flag sit­u­a­tions. This would slow them down to a pre­set speed to stop them los­ing con­trol and would en­sure no driver was dis­ad­van­taged.

This is harder than it sounds due to the var­ied and com­plex sys­tems on the cars, but an early

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