Bianchi find­ings

F1 Racing - - INSIDER -

Bianchi crash in­ves­ti­ga­tion calls for ma­jor changes to the Safety Car reg­u­la­tions

A se­ries of safety changes, in­clud­ing the in­tro­duc­tion of the new Vir­tual Safety Car (VSC) sys­tem, have been rec­om­mended fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Jules Bianchi’s Ja­panese Grand Prix ac­ci­dent.

The Marus­sia racer was se­ri­ous in­jured when he left the track at Suzuka in the 5 Oc­to­ber race and struck a re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle. He re­mains in crit­i­cal con­di­tion in a hos­pi­tal in France as F1 Rac­ing closed for press.

The FIA com­mis­sioned a ten-per­son panel, in­clud­ing Ross Brawn, Emer­son Fit­ti­paldi and Alex Wurz, to in­ves­ti­gate the ac­ci­dent. The panel’s 396-page re­port has con­cluded that a num­ber of key is­sues con­trib­uted to the ac­ci­dent.

Jules Bianchi slid off the track at Turn 7 of the Suzuka cir­cuit, where a re­cov­ery crane was re­mov­ing Adrian Su­til’s Sauber, which had gone off the track on the pre­vi­ous lap. The re­view ruled that Bianchi did not slow down suf­fi­ciently to avoid los­ing con­trol in de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tions, and then ‘over-con­trolled’ his over­steer­ing car, which meant he left the track at an ear­lier point than Su­til. While travers­ing the run-off area, Bianchi ap­plied both throt­tle and brake. That should have trig­gered a Fail­Safe al­go­rithm, de­signed to cut the en­gine, but the rear brake-by-wire sys­tem on Bianchi’s Marus­sia was in­com­pat­i­ble with the sys­tem.

The re­port noted that the ac­tions taken fol­low­ing Su­til’s ac­ci­dent were con­sis­tent with FIA reg­u­la­tions, and fol­lowed 384 in­ci­dents in the pre­ced­ing eight years, and that res­cue and med­i­cal pro­ce­dures were fol­lowed and con­trib­uted to sav­ing Bianchi’s life. It noted that, with­out the ben­e­fit of hind­sight, there was no rea­son why the Safety Car should have been de­ployed be­fore or after Su­til’s ac­ci­dent, and that it con­sid­ered it ‘fun­da­men­tally wrong’ to make changes to the de­sign of an F1 car or re­cov­ery ve­hi­cle in or­der to make an im­pact be­tween the two sur­viv­able. In­stead, it was ‘im­per­a­tive’ to pre­vent a car ever hit­ting a re­cov­ery crane.

The panel is­sued seven rec­om­men­da­tions to im­prove safety. The key change is to im­pose en­forced speed lim­its in yel­low flag zones, as well as the adop­tion of the Vir­tual Safety Car sys­tem which was tri­alled dur­ing the last three races of the 2014 sea­son.

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