Ever since the Grand Prix of Japan, we’ve been inundated with the infernal #ForzaJules wave. I realize that many people will hate me for saying that, but then that’s not different from every other day anyway. I could say the ‘sky is blue’ and there’d be at least three regular commenters coming in slamming me for being a ‘colourist bastard’. So why do I come out begging for more?
The simple matter of the fact is – Jules Bianchi had a car accident and came away from it with life-threatening injuries and everyone goes potty. Unless you live in Andorra or San Marino, the very same has happened a few hundred times in your country over the last twenty-four hours. You’ll be quite busy scribbling hashtags for the rest of your life. And you know what? Many of the people, who were alive yesterday and are now heavily disabled – or even dead – have nobody to blame but themselves.
People will hate me for it, but the thing is, we have a responsibility for ourselves and those around us. I’m a heavy smoker, so when I kick the bucket with lung cancer tomorrow, people shouldn’t be crying crocodile tears over #RememberHippo, they should lambast me for inhaling toxic smoke for over 20 years.
Michael Schumacher spent half a year in a coma, because he had an accident. Thing is, he crashed away from the marked piste. The piste is marked because that’s where safety has been confirmed. Had he crashed there, he would have fallen on snow, alas he wasn’t within the boundaries and slammed into a rock. Who’s fault is that? Could it be that Michael was just inattentive? Was he perhaps – heaven forbid – reckless? The simple matter of the fact is, main responsibility for the accident falls to Michael Schumacher. He was the one, who had to make sure to stay within the boundaries of the piste. He didn’t.
Everybody and his dog is now demanding an ‘independent inquiry’ into the Bianchi accident. For what? There were double yellow flags. The rules say ‘be prepared to stop at any time due to stationary cars and/or marshals on or near the track’. It’s obvious he ignored that. He wasn’t prepared to stop – he couldn’t even stay on the road. He could still have lost control at 60kph, but does anybody really believe the impact would have had the same result at about one third of the speed that Bianchi was actually going? The videos were taken down by FOM very quickly, but for the short time they were available, people could see at what a ridiculous speed Bianchi smashed into the recovery vehicle.
“But it was raining and getting dark!” I hear you cry. So what? If that’s not a reason to slow the heck down, then what is? I’m certainly not a fan of Lauda, but there is one moment when the Austrian made the right call – in the 1976 Japanese GP at Fuji. The race was run in torrential rain and Lauda decided it was unsafe. He came into the pits and retired a perfectly healthy car. As a result he lost the title by the smallest of margins to James Hunt, so instead of four titles Lauda has only three, but he still lives to ruin Mercedes.
We had Felipe Massa make a lot of noise about having screamed into the radio for five laps that it was unsafe to continue. Well, Felipe baby, you still continued on instead of making the right call and park it. Lauda may only have one ear, but he has two cojones. He gave away a world title in exchange for his health – you risked yours for a seventh position. What does that say about your sense of self-preservation?
If the most experienced drivers in the pack don’t know how to stand their ground, how is a young charger like Bianchi supposed to do it? He has no backup. So he did what everyone else did and blasted through the double-yellow section in complete disregard of what the rules demand in such conditions. Most got away with it, but Jules paid the ultimate price for it.
I’ll tell you why everyone was so shocked by it, why everybody feels the need to plaster their helmet with bogus #ForzaJules messages. The buggers realized it could have been themselves submarining below that crane. They all went past that section several degrees too fast. All it would have taken was them hitting that particular puddle that took out Sutil and Bianchi.
You could argue that hitting that particular spot was unfortunate, but the simple fact is, nobody should have gone as fast as he did at that section – all of them. The double yellow regs specifically mention that there might be marshals on or near the track, so if you blast into that zone at 80+ mph you obviously don’t give a flying expletive if you run them over.
Citing Whitings ridiculous ‘interpretation’ of the double yellow rules isn’t going to make a blasted difference. Are you going to read that to the family of the marshal you’ve killed? Are you hoping that they’ll exonerate you because of it. ‘Oh you killed our dad, but it’s okay, because Charlie said you could.’ Ask Martin Brundle how quickly it can happen that you hit a marshal.
Instead of joining this self-pitying #ForzaJules hype, we should corner the remaining 20 drivers about why they all too willingly risked the lives of other people. If they have no sense of self-preservation, that’s their problem, but the moment they put the life of people on the line, who have no say in the matter, things become unacceptable.
Jules was hardly the only one, who blatantly ignored double yellow protocol that day, they all did. But just because he nearly killed himself, Jules should not be immune to criticism. He merely paid a higher price than the other twenty.
And did anyone spare a thought for the poor driver of the recovery vehicle? Where’s the #ForzaJapaneseDiggerDriver trend? He’ll have to live for the rest of his life with the knowledge that someone almost died under his vehicle. For the rest of his life he’ll second-guess his actions of the day and try to find out if the accident could have been averted had he done something different. He’ll carry a guilt that isn’t his, just because a bunch of racing drivers couldn’t grasp the concept of ‘be prepared to stop at any time’.
So I propose instead of #ForzaJules, they should perhaps wear #IFinallyReadTheRuleBook tags in Austin.