#F1 Features: Respect for life requires FIA action

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” – Henry David Thoreau

There’s been a lot of hot air blown over the tragic accident of Jules Bianchi in Suzuka. Human nature appears to require somewhere to quickly point the finger of fault in the face of an injustice of monumental proportions.

Jacques Villeneuve wants to launch the safety car as often as it takes during a race, to ensure even the smallest mouse which happens to wander onto the circuit is protected. Then others, such as Max Mosley have in nano seconds of the chequered flag jumped to give a stalwart defence of Charlie Whiting and the FIA.

What will be the case is that some things will indeed change. However, this requires a sober assessment of current practices and protocols and for certain well placed individuals within the FIA to lay down their stubborn views and long held positions on the matter of safety in Formula 1.

To the safety car. The first time Formula One saw the use of a ‘pace car’ to control the speed of the competitors during a race was in 1973. That year there had been a number of particularly gruesome crashes, one of which claimed the life of Roger Williamson.

At the Canadian GP in ’73 following a crash between  Scheckter and Cevert, a yellow Porsche 914 was released onto the track. The problem was the safety car picked up the wrong driver, Howden Ganley, which allowed all the cars ahead of him to complete an extra lap before catching the snake of cars now under speed control.

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This was in the days of manual timekeepers and lap charts, and on the restart following the safety car’s departure from the circuit, the race managers assumed Ganley was leading the race.

Ganley crossed the finish line first and was awarded the race win. However, he refused to acknowledge the win, and explained the error.

After three hours of post race deliberation, Peter Revson was awarded the win, though to this day Emerson Fittipaldi who was second disputes this.

This debacle saw the safety car idea abandoned, and whilst there were token appearances from a Lamborghini Countach during the starts of the 1981,82 and 83 Monaco GP’s.

(Look closely at the rear of the field to see the Lamborghini)

It was not until 1993 when the safety car was once again introduced and the inglorious Fiat Tempra was selected for the job. It was first seen in action that year as the pace car during the Brazilian GP.

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Since those times the use of the safety car has developed, and various eras have seen different rules and protocols applied to the periods deemed to require a safety car. Closed pit lanes following the deployment of the safety car, lapped cars left out of position and the SC picking up the wrong driver as the leader of the snake have all created debates over fairness and regulation changes over the past 20 years.

During the sprint era of F1 where Ferrari dominated the sport, the safety car was often viewed as relief by those watching processional races because it would ‘mix things up’ and create some incremental interest. That said, racing purists were upset by these at times randomising events because the order of the race prior to the despatching of the Safety Car was disrupted.

However, the introduction in 2010 of delta times which cars must drive to immediately following the deployment of the Safety Car, was an attempt to retain the integrity of the race to date, and on the whole has worked well.

The current use of the safety car, though fairer in its protocols of use than at other times in history, still creates a huge debate amongst F1 fans and professionals alike. There are those who believe the safety car is the shining knight in white armour – riding into town to on his trusty steed to deliver ultimate safety, in every given situation requiring an on track caution in a Formula One race.

Others believe the safety car is still an intrusion on the racing and that its incremental use will render more random and  ‘unfair’ results to Formula 1 races.

If these two polarised positions were the only options, then the safety first ‘white steed’ mantra becomes difficult to argue with.

However, there are alternatives to the safety car, which may indeed be safer than deploying Bernd Maylander and his Mercedes marketing pony, whilst at the same time retaining the race order on track.

To all of us who have raced in club level motorsport or even in the less technologically advanced professional series, from day one we were and have continued to be drilled regarding the importance of obeying the marshals flags. When the racing cars have no flashing yellow lights, no steering wheel safety car delta speed displays and no pit to car radio, on track cautions becomes a matter of life and death for all concerned at a race meeting.

The racing becomes secondary and it is of grave concern to each individual involved that the utmost respect for others is observed.

We saw in Germany this year, the stricken car of Adrian Sutil lay stalled across the pit lane straight toward the end of the race. The matter was dealt with under double waved yellow flags, yet drivers were coming through the final corner at high speeds which certainly did not fitting the criteria of “slow right down and be prepared to stop”.

No driver was sanctioned for this apparent reckless disregard for the double waved yellows and amusingly Lewis Hamilton criticised race control as follows.

“When you come round that corner at serious speed and then there are marshals standing not far away from where you’re driving past, for me that’s the closest it’s been for a long, long time.”

Hamilton also stated he had been having flashbacks to the gruesome TV footage from the 1977 South African GP when Welsh driver Tom Pryce hit a marshal who was crossing the track with a fire extinguisher. Both men were killed in the incident.

The drivers continued to enter the pit straight this year in Germany at high speed despite Sutil’s abandoned vehicle and not just on the first lap they encountered the obstruction, but until the end of the race.

So why no sanctions from Charlie?

Well, in an attempt to quantify what constitutes a breach of yellow flag protocols, Charlie Whiting issued a directive earlier this year.

Proud of his initiative, Whiting stated at the season opener in Melbourne, “We can now split the track into 20 sectors rather than the traditional three. It will allow us, for example, to check accurately that a driver has slowed appropriately for yellow flags where looking at the larger sector would not always be representative.

It will give us much better accuracy when looking at car positions and track sectors – It’s another tool that’s been added to the stewards’ armoury.”

So each F1 circuit on the race calendar has now been divided into a maximum of 20 sections, and race control now have the ability to track the times of each driver lap by lap through each section.

The drivers must now slow by a prescribed time though yellow flag affected sections of the circuit. This is 0.2 seconds compared to their best same sector time for a single yellow flags, and 0.5 seconds for double waved yellows.

At 5807 metres long, this would mean that were Suzuka divided into 20 equal sections, each sector would be 290 metres long. Jules Bianchi and Adrian Sutil were circulating in around 117 seconds per lap prior to their accidents. This means they were covering a 290 metre section in just under 6 seconds.

The implications are clear. No longer does the double yellow flag carry the potency it should, because Charlie’s new regulations require the drivers to reduce their speed by just 8.6% on average at the Suzuka circuit.

It may be simpler for Charlie and the stewards to patrol breaches of yellow flag protocol with this new definition, but an enormous tool in the safety armoury of Formula 1 has been sacrificed. The impotence of double waved yellow flags in Formula 1 following Whiting’s March 2014 directive is now horrifying.

The double waved yellow is far quicker to implement than a safety car, and has the immediate effect of locking down a relatively small section of track to a speed close to the slowest hairpin corner on the F1 calendar.

There have been a number of suggestions from the likes of Max Mosely and Mika Salo to name but two, that maybe Jules Binchi was traveling too quickly under double waved yellow flags, yet the driver’s cannot be blamed for this since March when Charlie Whiting gave them Carte Blanche to travel at more than 90% of their quickest time though hazardous sections of the race track which are under a double yellow caution.

THIS INSIDIOUS NOTION THAT BIANCHI CONTRIBUTING TO HIS ACCIDENT, EMANATING FROM THE FIA IS WICKED AND SHOULD BE CHALLENGED BY EVERY F1 FAN ACROSS THE GLOBE.

Whether Jules had indeed technically breached the speed regulation before he hit the recovery vehicle is a moot point. Had the collision occurred at speeds of 130, 160 or 190kph. the result would have been similar.

F1 cars are designed to crash into other cars and barriers at speeds approaching 300kph, THEY ARE NOT DESIGNED TO SUBMARINE UNDER A 15 TONNE VEHICLE – POORLY ADAPTED TO OPERATE ON A LIVE RACING CIRCUIT TO RECOVER STRANDED CARS

Others have suggested a faster deployment of the safety car would have saved Jules from his fate. However, even had the safety car been deployed almost immediately, it would have collected Jules prior to the leader, he would have been allowed to circulate once more at 120% delta time of his best lap – which is still a mere 16.66% reduction in speed – measured over the entire lap.

It has to be time for a new flag and associated lights around the circuit and on the dashboard to be introduced. This flag should enforce no more than the pit lane speed limiter – or an even slower delta speed if deemed appropriate – while the cars to travel at through temporary hazardous sections of the circuit.

This protocol would have the added advantage that the cars will be traveling at full speed for much of the lap – unlike when behind the safety car – with the result that their tyres and brakes will not cool down as they do behind the safety car.

This writer knows these proposals were discussed at length with certain FIA officials who have decision making powers earlier this year, to no avail, as apparently the commercial rights holder felt safety car deployments improve the show. These protocols were in fact first proposed by an early TJ13 article back in 2012 following the Singapore GP (click here).

For the 2014 event, Le Mans have adopted controlled zones without safety cars where the vehicles are restricted to 60mph. A similar system, named “Code 60″,  has been used in the 24 Hours of Dubai, where all cars immediately slow to 60 kph and retain their relative positions on track.

The safety car can still be used when it is necessary to aggregate the entire field into the same section of the lap – usually to clear extensive amounts of debris, At present many occasions when the safety car is deployed, the track aggregation of the field is not necessary.

Of course, when considering the accident of Jules Bianchi, there are a number of other matters for consideration regarding the closing laps of the 2014 Japanese GP; poor light levels, incremental rain, wearing intermediate tyres and green flags being waved which may have appeared confusing in the spray and the gloom.

And given the current protocols for releasing the safety car, there is no guarantee had it been deployed following Sutil’s accident that it would have picked up Jules Bianchi in time to save him.

The FIA has launched an investigation to the events surrounding the Jules Bianchi accident in Japan, yet if Whiting truly wishes to improve safety during the races, he will not buckle to the calls for the ‘Linus Blanket’ of incremental safety car deployment. This is not the answer and will not deliver the objective of improving safety for all personnel on a Formula One circuit.

It’s time F1 and the FIA regained a proper sense of respect for the lives of the competitors and the event marshal’s and it is truly a tragedy, that Jules Bianchi has had to pay so high a price in the hope that certain stubborn men may finally sit up and listen.

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51 responses to “#F1 Features: Respect for life requires FIA action

  1. Great post Judge. You’re really on the money with that one IMO. Glad to see you used the Hamilton quote as that tells us a drivers view of Yellow flags in F1. N.b that’s no slur on Lewis, as they all do it.

  2. As much as the purist’s won’t like it – F1 will eventually move back to red-flagging a race if course workers / marshals / recovery equipment are on the track. A sensor in the car will alert drivers that a red-flag has been issued, they then activate a sort of pit-lane limiter and then head to the pits.

  3. “[…] drivers to reduce their speed by just 8.6% on average at the Suzuka circuit.”

    Sorry, but that is bad and manipulative math … the whole point is not that it’s “just” 8.6% on average, but that it’s _significantly more_ (percentually) in the sector that actually matters. Say that we have a 120s lap, to make the calculations easy for me to do off the top of my head, which means 6s sectors, then if a driver has to be 0.5s slower in _the sector that matters_, this means 0.5s on 6s = 8.3% slower, compared to (in the case of three sectors) 0.5s on 40s = 1.25% slower over the whole sector.

    Finer-grained measurements are always better, and Charlie is right to tout that point, end of discussion.

    For the record, I’m on the side of the debate that thinks yellow flags mean Slow The F[redacted] Down. Nevertheless, I don’t consider myself smart or knowledgeable enough to point fingers anywhere in cases such as these.

  4. Addendum: I’m still not entirely decided, but I think I largely agree with the pit-lane speed limiter solution, provided it’s indeed in one of the ’20’ sections – it might actually be doable to enforce that electronically – not sure there, though.

  5. Addendum 2:

    “It’s time F1 and the FIA regained a proper sense of respect for the lives of the competitors and the event marshal’s”

    That is a completely uncalled-for and below-the-belt remark. Shame on you!

  6. Good, serious post, Judge. Thanks. Very interesting to see a historical perspective of safety cars, namely that they became commonplace only 20 years ago.

    There is one aspect that may be worth including in the analysis. Charlie’s interpretation of the double-yellow rule uses the *best* sector time as a reference point for enforcing the rule. However, the best sector time will necessarily depend on optimal tire/fuel/ERS/weather combination.

    The issue is that at certain points in the race drivers are way off their best sector times. A driver on shot tires a couple of laps before pitting (or at the end of the race) may be at racing speed but still 2sec off his best lap time. A driver in dire need of fuel saving, or with a malfunctioning ERS, could be at full racing speed but still well down on his best lap time. But most importantly, weather conditions: in mixed weather conditions, you can easily have 5sec swings between drying and raining periods. In such cases, the -0.5sec enforcement becomes nonsensical and it is simply impossible for a driver to know at which point they are complying with the rules (or not).

    In Jules’ case at least two of these factors were obviously present: worn tires and worsening rain. This would mean that his target laps just prior to the crash were in all likelihood quite a bit slower than his best lap, and Jules might even have been in a position to NOT need to slow down while still conforming to the 0.5sec lift requirement. (Not having access to the lap times and telemetry, I’m relying on guesswork here.)

  7. It’s interesting to note the similarities to 1994. JS wrote a piece just before Imola 1994, stating that if nothing was done then someone was going to be hurt very badly…

    94 or 14? FIA MIA, cars ‘too easy to drive, after one team dominates’, so ‘make them harder to drive’, ‘remove downforce’, ‘put the driver more in control again, less electronic help’, bad implementation of new rules……..

        • Fair enough, that’s quite a sensible length actually. 6 seconds should be enough time to react and slow in a sector.

          I was thinking that marshal posts already exist, are used for flagging, and you could easily set a SC delta or pit speed limiter for a few of those (and apply it to all cars for say 2 laps to make it even), e.g. here 11-13.

  8. my tuppence worth:

    I agree wholeheartedly with tj13’s suggestions above.

    If safety cars cannot be done away with, then the competitors should be allowed to “retain their relative positions on track”. [I take that to mean that their relative lap/race times are preserved].

    Also, in the Bianchi incident, I don’t think that a closed cockpit would have helped – indeed it might have imploded and an caused impalement type of injury on top of the internal brain trauma which is unavoidable at the speed that Bianchi hit the tractor.

    His speed seems such that internal brain injury was inevitable even if he hit the safety wall instead of the tractor.

    I also think his trajectory seems such that he would have glanced off the edge of the wall and onwards through the gap to the marshalls waiting area.

    • the depth compression the telephoto lens creates makes it seem that way, but there is plenty of tyre barrier coverage there. you’d have to make an impossible turn at 200kph in the wet to get through that gap.

      Line in green is Bianchi’s trajectory to impact. Red lines are turn needed to get through the barrier gap.

      [IMG]http://i60.tinypic.com/2ag96ys.png[/IMG]

  9. I wanted to note one thing from the video on the telemetry prior to the impact:

    – Immediately prior to Sutil’s spin in T7 both Sutil and Bianchi were in 6th gear at ~220 km/h.
    – On the following lap, under yellow flags Binachi was in 6th gear at ~210 km/h. Sensibly similar to the previous lap, which means that “he was going too fast” doesn’t hold.
    – Immediately after the Bianchi shunt comes Ericsson and at the same point in T7 he is 5th gear at ~210 km/h.
    – Another car afterwards is Chilton, under the same double-yellow conditions, who comes in 6th gear at ~230 km/h.

    If the data in that video is correct, the idea that Binachi may have been speeding is risible.

    • Yes, this is what I pointed out when this video was posted a few days ago. After JB had gone off, Ericsson and Chilton go through the sector at the same or higher speeds. And we don’t see the numbers from other cars, so it could have been everyone. So I don’t think it was really about speed: Sutil was talking more about visibility and a big puddle.

        • Exactly Judge.
          It does not matter what speed Jules was running at.
          He just as easily could have skidded off by reducing his speed too much, losing a ton of downforce and with it, most of his grip.

          F1 cars are designed to absorb impacts from other F1 cars, and the barriers. it is not possible to design a race car that will survive an impact with a 10 tonne tractor. You cannot fight physics.

          • If Bianchi hit that recovery vehicle at 1mph he’d almost certainly be in a lot better health than he currently is.

            So quite obviously speed does matter.

        • “An F1 car being wedged under something is the problem….”

          That, but not only. All the conditions were present for Jules:
          – to collect a tractor and wedge under it (what actually happened)
          – to collect a marshal or two
          – to collect the stricken car of Sutil

          Improving design of recovering vehicles is important and should be done (didn’t McLaren cough up 100m that were earmarked for safety initiatives?), but that wouldn’t have helped the hapless *volunteer* marshals parked in the corner and waiting for someone to skid off. Correctly regulating the speed of cars in danger zones is of greater importance: Drivers should be f^cking “prepared to stop”.

        • I’ll politely disagree with the idea that speed isn’t a problem. If Jules (and the rest of the field) were sat on their pit limiters at 80kph in the yellow flag area I’d argue that he doesn’t spin, and thus ends up with virtually no chance of hitting a recovery vehicle, another car or a marshal.

          Speed in this accident isn’t a red herring, it’s what created the energy to cause Jules such horrific injuries. At a lower speed even if he did hit a recovery vehicle the G forces are vastly reduced.

          If F1 solely removed recovery vehicles there will would have been a reasonable chance of Jules hitting a Marshal in Suzuka, or Sutils car – both of which could have been fatal. F1 cars aren’t designed to hit people, other F1 cars or recovery vehicles – so why look at a solution that only solves one of those three?

          An enforced reduction in speed of F1 cars in yellow flag zones is the only preventative way to vastly decrease the likelihood of cars going off track when there are already incidents and if they do so the speeds are far far lower, and as we all know, that means a greatly reduced chance of serious injury. By all means, lets get rid of recovery vehicles in run off areas as well, but to only do that would be a considerable mistake by the authorities, and I feel sure that if that’s not changed we’ll see a driver/marshall end up with serious injuries in future.

          • I think the point was more about why he went off isn’t so much about speed, rather than the impact with the digger. Obviously the best approach is better control of speeds in yellow zones.

  10. Great article!
    It strikes me that there are often situations where a car is stranded at the outer limits of the track, with access roads behind the barriers and they wheel out tractor with a boom of a couple of meters to recover. surely it would be much safer to employ a much longer boom and recover with the tractor still behind the barrier.

    • Indeed Ukulowly… you are right….

      However…..

      ….. I will say this just once. THE PROBLEM IS THAT ON A LIVE F1 TRACK THERE WAS A VEHICLE WHICH AN F1 CAR COULD SUBMARINE UNDERNEATH….

      A direct hit on the recovery vehicle or the barrier or even Sutil’s car, would almost definitely have resulted in a reduced level of impact BECAUSE THE CRUMPLE ZONES WOULD HAVE COME INTO PLAY….

      Bianchi’s head supported even for a split second some of the weight of a 15+ tonne recovery vehicle – and that is unacceptable and never unavoidable….

      • Not so sure about that, Judge. If Bianchi had run straight into the side of the tractor he would have come to a stop in a WAY shorter time than he did by sort of scrubbing off speed underneath the tractor. The g forces would have been much greater, ‘crumple zone’ or not; to be a bit crude, he would have been dead if he hit the tractor straight on at that speed. I can calculate the g forces if you wish, but they are much greater coming to a dead stop in 2 meters or less from 160 kph than they were transferring energy to the tractor and moving it with a (sort of) glancing blow.

        Sorry about the graphic descriptions.

      • In fact, I just did a quick calculation on this. Assuming 160 kph (44.4 m/sec) and a stopping distance of 2 meters (.045 sec @ 44.4 m/sec) the deceleration is around 4000 g’s (a = 2v/t*2). Maybe I’ve made a mistake here, anyone correct me if I have, but this is not survivable, even by a factor of ten.

          • Thinking about it some more, that equation assumes linear acceleration / deceleration over the full two metres, which isn’t likely. G spike will be much higher than 500.

          • Yeah, I should have taken an average velocity to calculate stopping time. Redoing mine I get about 1000g deceleration. Probably not accurate, I need to do a bit of calculus to determine time, but still ballpark. Not survivable.

          • Also, if you assume 80 kph the g forces drop into the 100 g range. That’s probably survivable.

          • Yep. Kinetic energy to be dissipated being a function of velocity squared. The forces involved in an incident at 300kph plus don’t bear thinking about *looks for wood to touch*
            The cornering speeds in F1 are high enough. No surprise the authorities focus on that for regulation changes – corners are where incidents occur.

      • “….. I will say this just once. THE PROBLEM IS THAT ON A LIVE F1 TRACK THERE WAS A VEHICLE WHICH AN F1 CAR COULD SUBMARINE UNDERNEATH….

        A direct hit on the recovery vehicle or the barrier or even Sutil’s car, would almost definitely have resulted in a reduced level of impact”

        Slightly incomplete, Judge. A direct hit on the 3 marshals on the racetrack side of the barriers would have been as tragic as Kyalami, safety design of the tractor or the F1 car being irrelevant in such a case.

    • ….cheers…. I’ve had a chat to some smart F1 cookies this morning, and without a shadow of a doubt, the culpability lays with this vehicle and its design being allowed on a live F1 circuit.

      Had Bianchi hit the barrier at an even greater speed, he could have been in the Massa/Perez level of impact level and walked away.

      Further, it is questionable whether removing stranded cars whilst risking others hitting this kind of a recovery vehicles is an optimum solution.

      There was no opportunity for the crumple zones to work in this crash, and Pastor Maldonado will tell you how a head on at higher speeds is easily survivable cf Monaco – so long as you don’t end up under a 15+ tonne vehicle supporting it with your head…..

      • ” without a shadow of a doubt, the culpability lays with this vehicle and its design being allowed on a live F1 circuit.”

        With the risk of sounding like a broken record, culpability lies with the *speed* of ALL F1 cars when traveling in double-yellow zones with (1) marshals, (2) stricken F1 cars or (3) tractors *parked on the racetrack side of the barriers*.

        The trajectory of Jules’ car could have easily been onto two of the three marshals assisting Sutil’s car. And this situation, marshals on track, occurs much more often than we are willing to think of: only this year, think of Singapore escape roads, Hungary quali in T1, Germany with Sutil’s spin, etc., etc. Tractor design is important and should be addressed, but this would have done strictly nothing for the hapless marshals.

      • “the culpability lays with this vehicle and its design being allowed on a live F1 circuit.”

        As I point out in a comment below, what about the design of marshals “being allowed on a live F1 circuit”? How do you design *marshals* to survive the impact of an F1 car traveling at 160 km/h?

          • “Marshals didn’t get hurt.”

            That’s the sort of arguments that are simply nonsensical. No drivers got killed in the past 20 years: yay, it must be safe out there, so let’s roll the tractors!! Marshals didn’t get hurt in Germany: let’s spice up the show and have marshals run across the track during every GP. It’s safe, really, because no one got hurt yet!! Such arguments are NULL and void.

            That marshals didn’t get hurt given Bianchi’s shunt is a miracle: the damn tractor almost landed on one of the three marshals surrounding it!

            “In your scope of debate we should also consider errant pigeons…”

            Not at all. I sure do hope that the scope of the debate includes the safety of those involved in an F1 accident, namely drivers *and* marshals. I don’t care for the safety of scared rabbits, parked tractors, stray dogs or flying hippos.

            We already know that tractors are very dangerous to driver safety when they impact at ~160 km/h; they’re badly designed. But from Kyalami we also know that marshals are just as dangerous for driver safety, especially when holding blunt objects such as fire extinguishers: both human marshals and blunt objects are badly desgined. And Kyalami taught us, in case we were doubting, that an F1 car can savagely mutilate a human marshal because, you know, there are fundamental design flaws in humans when it comes to withstanding ~160 km/h stray projectiles.

            So to sum up the above in terms of danger to human lives, you get that:
            – a tractor is dangerous for the F1 driver (1 danger)
            – a marshal is dangerous for the F1 driver, and an F1 driver is dangerous for the marshals (2 dangers, at least)

            If you do the math, you’ll notice that a marshal on an active track (wink wink Germany 2014, and most every single GP in recent memory) is *at least* as dangerous to human lives as a badly designed tractor. If you argue that all that matters is designing properly shaped tractors to save human lives in (copy-cat) F1 crashes, then you’re falling into a logical inconsistency.

            Add to this that a tractor on the racetrack-side of the barriers implies a 100% likelihood of a human marshal accompanying it: If you’re genuinely worried about a car skidding under a tractor, then you MUST logically also worry for a car skidding into the marshal(s) accompanying the tractor. You can’t argue one without the other!

  11. A general comment:

    In any arena where the participants can’t be relied on to regulate themselves, the environment must be the regulator or an avalanche of pear-shaped items come rapidly into view. Think of kids without parental oversight (Lord of the Rings?). Think of bankers without oversight (Wall Street, The City).
    Whatever solutions F1 comes up with to improve their race day risk management, those solutions *must* be imposed on the drivers instantly, consistently, from on high, with no negotiation or they are wasting their time. Professional stewards, race controllers with a battery of technological toys are the only way forward.
    F1 prides itself on the use of high end technology and yet safely moving cars through incident zones is currently managed by a slightly more sophisticated version of the Red Flag Act.

    • ” those solutions *must* be imposed on the drivers instantly, consistently, from on high, with no negotiation or they are wasting their time. Professional stewards, race controllers with a battery of technological toys are the only way forward.”

      Indeed so. I would also add to this *professional marshals*, who actually know how to behave, understand the risk, and don’t jump like hapless Homer Simpsons onto a car that skid off while 9 others are arriving full speed in the same corner. (Remember quali in Hungary 2014, anyone?)

  12. And…. no mention about why there are structures on active racetracks that the cars are not designed to hit? Structures that have parts that line up perfectly with the height of a driver’s head?

    If Jules had hit the barriers or Sutil’s car instead of that bulldozer, he would not be in a coma right now. We’ve all seem immense direct impacts to barriers, but this is what F1 cars are designed to hit. (e.g. Massa / Perez crash Canada 2014, Schumacher Silverstone 1999, Kubica Canada 2007, Webber Valencia 2010, Hamilton Nurburgring 2007, etc.)

    It is the bulldozer that caused the DIRECT contact upon Jules’ head. To continuously ignore this simple fact makes no sense to me.

    This whole thing is being overcomplicated and it frustrates me greatly.

    • “If Jules had hit the barriers or Sutil’s car instead of that bulldozer, he would not be in a coma right now.”

      In Jules’ case it was either hitting (1) the barriers, (2) the bulldozer or (3) the marshals. So let me put this differently:
      If Jules had hit either of the 3 marshals instead of the bulldozer, we would have had at least one beheaded marshal. And if Kyalami is any guide, Jules would have been in a coma himself.

      “This whole thing is being overcomplicated”

      Not at all. Badly designed bulldozers on racetrack side of the barriers is one part of the problem. Hapless volunteer marshals *on racetrack side of the barriers* is the second part of the problem.

      So tell me, how do you design *marshals* to survive the impact of an F1 car traveling at 160 km/h?

      • I completely agree.

        The issue isn’t hitting a recovery vehicle, it’s hitting something that isn’t a safety barrier – and that could mean another car, a person or a recovery vehicle.

        Do we have to wait until a driver or marshal is killed by a car coming off the road in a yellow zone before they fix that?

        I hope not!

      • good point but the only reason the marshalls were there was to assist the bulldozer in removing Sutil’s car which should have been left there. I disagree about comparing to kyalami because that outcome was due to the fact that pryce’s head smashed into the guys fire extinguisher. it would have been negated by marshalls not needing to be present if they just left the car alone.

        • “the only reason the marshalls were there was to assist the bulldozer in removing Sutil’s car which should have been left there.”

          Well, but then we’re into a different type of headache. FIA protocols in recent memory almost (?) always require the removal of a stricken F1 car, either (1) by sending marshals on the active racetrack or (2) by a sending a tractor with accompanying marshals.

          So what is safer? Leaving stray cars (which are dangerous in case of copy-cat accidents), or sending marshals and/or tractors to recover them? No idea, but each solution with its own safety issues. In any case, the 2nd solution certainly puts many more lives at risk.

          “I disagree about comparing to kyalami because that outcome was due to the fact that pryce’s head smashed into the guys fire extinguisher.”

          Sure. There were two victims in Kyalami. But if Bianchi smashed into a marshal, we’d have (at least) one victim now. And one with a less sexy name and less recognition than Jules Bianchi. So are we worried about driver lives, or human lives involved in F1 accidents?

          • I recall an incident at a Toronto CART race from years ago. A driver had lost it and impacted the barriers, but no crane could reach the car, which was stranded against the armco on the exit of a turn. Waving yellows/saftey car followed for five laps or so, then it was decided to just leave the car there; all the drivers had seen it and knew where it was.

            The race was green flagged and everyone took off. Mario Andretti came around the corner for the first time under green flag conditions; he assumed the car was removed, as the waving yellows were gone. The car was there. Andretti managed to weave left a little bit and tore the side off his car; I think he knew he almost bought it, I was sure he was going to. Another foot over and he would have rear ended the car at full racing speed. IMHO that was the closest Andretti had ever come. He assumed that since the yellow flags were in the track was clear. Pretty poor race control and bad decisions made. Waving yellows should mean something.

  13. Good morning,
    From my humble point of view, among the different factors involved in the event, ignoring the double yellow flags should be placed first and claiming that Chilton and Ericsson came at the same point at similar speed with no problem may only mean they were luckier than Bianchi. As said by Judge, yellow flags seem not to mean what they meant, that is: slow down and be prepared to stop. But this precept has been disregarded quite often with no action from FIA which may explain why drivers continued to disregard it. I am not putting all the blame on Bianchi since it was FIA who should enforce the rule… always.

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