#F1 Voice of the Fans: Hippo’s View From The Waterhole, Time To Stop The #ForzaJules Hype


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.

53 responses to “#F1 Voice of the Fans: Hippo’s View From The Waterhole, Time To Stop The #ForzaJules Hype

  1. And by telling drivers 0.5 counted as obeying DBWY, how does CW and the FIA not bear the burden of this as well?

    If I follow the speed limit and an accident occurs, can I then be faulted for driving too fast?

    But the larger issue is about more than just the accident, but also about the response to it both on track and after, with embargoed video and lack of transparency throughout the whole process.

    Finally, whatever you may think, Bianchi is not around to defend himself and purposefully or not, the FIA has shifted blame solely onto him when they have created and perpetuated the atmosphere and behaviour you so decry. That is simply classless and combined with the lack of independent investigation, regardless of outcome, demands protest.

    The FIA’s luck has run out however and I believe you are misinterpreting the call for justice to mean something other than what was intended.

    • Matt, I can only compare to the German road laws. §1 says, you have to drive in a manner that you are in control of the vehicle, so if you crash it at 60kph on a wet road, even if the law allows 80kph, you’ll be penalized.
      That’s the beef I have with it – No matter what Charlie’s “interpretation” allows them to run. Under the conditions present 200 kph was not a safe speed, especially with marshals close to the track. The accusation I have against the lot is that they all risked the lives of the marshals. This shouldn’t need enforcement, it’s a matter of common sense.

      • …. well Germanic rule has hardly been a paradigm of success on many fronts… Merkel was dragged kicking and screaming into sanctions against Russia by Cameron, who many consider to be a pansy boy…. lightweight.

      • Let me ask you this then: IF a policeman fails to stop a motorist driving dangerously does the policeman have any responsibility? What if he regularly lets all drivers drive dangerously and doesn’t enforce the law? Then, after an accident he blames the driver, even though they could clearly see him and thus felt his tacit approval.

        OR is it all still on the driver.

        The only issue I have with your take is that the drivers will drive to what is enforced, as that is de facto considered to be safe.

        You can hear it in radio calls as well, when drivers argue strategy and then say “well, you have all the data”. CW has all the data and a global view of conditions on track and the drivers trust him to keep them safe.

        w/r/t the marshals it is a point raised by many commenters and one with which I wholeheartedly agree. Which makes it even more serious given how many GPs CW has seen compared to even the longest running driver at this point. If anyone *should* have known the risks, it was CW.

        And still we have volunteers, instead of professionals and rules enforcement that put their lives needlessly at risk.

        • Matt, the issue wouldn’t exist if the driver had adhered to the rules in the first place, would it? The main offense is still the driver breaking the law. You can accuse the policeman of doing a sloppy job, something that is the default setting at FIA, but the dead family in the ditch is there because someone drove under the influence or to fast or whatever. The policeman merely failed to use a chance of avoiding that accident. It wouldn’t have happened had the driver obeyed the law, despite an inept policeman – you are making my point.

          • To make it clear. I don’t lobby for sloppy policemen, but the main issue here is that people disregard the rules because they think they get away with it. The whole lot has been lulled into a sense of immortality since there have been no career-ending crashes in F1 since 1994.
            Back in the late 80s/early 90s nobody would have disregarded double yellows like that. Most of them still remembered Riccardo Paletti.

          • And you are making mine. The issue of lax enforcement leads to the situation just as a lack of maintenance leads to bridges falling down. Saying it is only the fault of the driver is a way of perpetuating the circumstances.

            We could remove any causative agent and not be sitting round talking about it but given enough laps this outcome was inevitable.

            And it may well turn out that young Jules was obeying the rules completely, at least in F1 land.

          • This world is a sad place to live in if you need the governing body to enforce common sense. As I said, most of the 80s and eraly 90s drivers still knew what can happen if an F1 car slams into a stationary car. If they were shown flags that say ‘possible stationary car on the track’ what do you think they though of – gaining a nanosecond on the driver ahead or getting the dang foot off the pedal to avoid ending up like Paletti? And besides, if you need enforcing not to endanger the life of track-side marshals, you may just as well need an exorcist. It’s like driving on the boardwalk just because the police lets you get away with it. Utterly ridiculous.

    • In Australia the driver is always required to drive at a speed safe for the current conditions. Speed limits are maximums not mandatory.

      The problem for Jules was he needed the team more than they needed him putting him in a weak position to be the first to stop or even slow. Massa should have stopped if it was so bad. The bunch of world champions in the field plus Nico all could have set an example to slow or stop as their teams may bitch about it but none would lose out of it and this would have opened a door for the pay drivers to follow

      I was at Adelaide in1989 where the weather was terrible. Drivers up and down the grid complained but no one except Prost (who did 1 lap for contractual reasons) had conviction to stop. He could do that because he was leaving Mac anyway but also because he had respect and credibiltity of two WCs behind him. JJ Lehto spun right in front of me and blocked the track and could easily have been killed but this was still not enough for others to stop

      I’m with the Hippo on this one that drivers need to do what’s right not what’s the minimum allowed and it needs to start with our “champions”

      • In fact the Vettel’s, Alonso’s, Hamilton’s should have set an example by parking it. Alas they didn’t and a another driver paid for it. None of them is free of guilt. If the conditions were as bad as Massa said – why did they go on? Simple: Most of them were still toddlers when the last F1 driver died on the track. They think they are invincible.

        • @fat one
          I enjoyed this article very much – in spite of the subject, you just have a way with words – and I think you’re right about the one choosing to maintain a certain speed being responsible.
          But if you leave out Charlie’s ‘directive’ you can’t blame the other drivers for not stopping and therby somehow ‘not making a point’. If they are partly to blame, so is Charlie.
          (I’m not talking about the speeding of the drivers here, mind you, just about ‘not stopping’

      • ” In Australia the driver is always required to drive at a speed safe for the current conditions. Speed limits are maximums not mandatory. ”

        Same in the UK

  2. Congratulations to FH and TJ13 community, is the only place where debate between opposing views enlightens us all. Well written, well argued and hard to read.

    If a marshal had been injured and not the driver. Those guilty have been the driver and the FIA, but I agree with Matt, the FIA is the main culprit because creates conditions for the accident to happen.

  3. Good stuff! Nice call pointing out Massa’s hypocrisy and an even nicer call recognizing the driver of the digger. This is the reason i read here.

  4. By and large Mr Hippo I concur with your waterhole view. Generally, the gist of your view was long overdue.
    Where we are at odds is well asked by Matt in his first para.
    And following from that I am firmly in the camp of Charlie’s got to go.

    Simply, apart from muddying the waters admirably with his DWY edict from Germany, he’s flip-flopped his way around the F1 circuits of the world for too long, giving misdirection then reverting to direction. The DWY is a classic.

    Hindsight? Maybe, but the 0.5 rubbish missed an appropriate chance to stamp the FIA authority on the matter, unequivocally.
    Then we get to the matter of the trackside go-to person. The person who runs the show, calls the shots and knows how to spin the story, sorry, that should be facts. And bury them.

    That these people seem to be able to report, review, recommend for their own ineptitude is beyond belief.

    And just for the record I don’t have a problem with the type of machinery that is commonly used trackside to remove carcases. It’s an effective solution, when used wisely that is.

  5. I too am really fed up with all the forza Jules hype. It’s getting to the point that nobody is able to start speaking without telling the world first how their thoughts are with Jules and family. There are places for that, but not every single answer should begin with that.

    F1 is still dangerous and people should accept that. The moment the danger is gone the sport will no longer be the same, as thrilling as the element of danger adds. Every now and then an accident will happen in F1. It just has been a while since it was deadly.

    In Japan there were a lot of things coming together for this accident to happen. But the biggest problem is the ignoring of the double waved yellows. So I fully agree with Hippo including CW’s rediculous interpretation of slowing down under yellows. Good article.

  6. Hippo, this is you soberly talking factually and insightfully sussing out the madness of the entire situation – and this is good! In the rain digger anywhere near the proximity of the course, marshals IN the gravel pit, driver standing right there — the entire scene was surreal. However, the culpability does lie with the drivers… and yet. For all the bluster from F1 media and rules-makers about how the drivers, given any choice will always choose “pushing,” all of these people associated with perpetuating the mythic nature of F1 also must take their share of responsibility.

    Blame should be spread equally between the drivers and those responsible for the sport’s welfare. The entire scene, as you wrote, was one of blatant disregard for life. Yes, it is Bianchi’s fault. Especially since he crashed in the same area last year! Yes, each driver was a brief moment of hydroplaning away from a similar fate, or worse, killing a marshal while being unharmed themselves. Yes, it was/is also the fault of F1 and the press supporting their obfuscation and excusing F1’s responsibility.

    Thanks again for a great commentary, Hippo.

  7. The simple truth is, had he not hit the digger and he walked away injury free from the accident, then there would be no ‘forza or justice for jules’ or questions being asked as to whether or not CW had acted appropriately and the expected 0.5 loss under DWY’s was a sufficient measure to allow none racing personnel and equipments onto the track.

    Everyone knows that the diggers have no place on a live race track, but that’s the reason why the DWY’s are in place, to warn drivers of their presence and we’ve seen them being used in similar circumstances and conditions before. Had the flags not been shown and he then had the accident, then surely CW, Bernie and the FIA are all responsible for what happened to him. As for Massa and his complaints, that I find ridiculous, because he has driven in far worse conditions than this before (Fuji 07) and he had no problem then.

    I remember saying after the incident, that he’s just as culpable for what happened as well and the blame can’t be layed squarely at the feet of CW and the FIA. What happened was unfortunate and maybe could’ve been prevented had he exercised a little more caution, but like they (MB, JH DH) keep telling us, racing drivers are hard wired to push flat out all the time so as to gain every little advantage they can, maybe this was one of those moments, that unfortunately had a tragic ending.

    Let’s hope better measures are put in place with respect to the DWY and hopefully another incident like this doesn’t happen again in the future.

    • It’s not easy to write something like this. In fact I expected to be slaughtered for this, but it’s good to know that some people look beyond the ‘oh we must all be emotionally impacted’ smoke-screen. By no way am I indifferent to what happened to Jules, but the fact of the matter is, it wasn’t a mere freak accident. His own actions contributed to it and I think it is wrong to ignore that.
      I would have liked that some of the more experienced drivers would have spoken up or actually let their actions do the talking and parked their cars. Imagine Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel coming in, parking it and saying ‘we can’t race under conditions like that’. The younger drivers would have followed suit – knowing that if a 4-times WDC parks it they have every right to do so themselves. Instead the lot soldiered on putting their own lives at risk as well as those of the marshals. It’s deeply frustrating.

      • I think we all agree with you to a degree, and personally I’m 100% behind everything you said, the disregard for the marshals and ‘no deaths in F1’ baloney has really gotten my goat over the last few weeks. I do still bang on about the independant enquiry, but my reasoning is that there is an attitude in F1, and is has beena case in point, of ‘this is not your business, we’ll sort this out in private’. Now for personal info, and Jules family this is appropriate, but for rule making and particularly safety this is insane, and this whole epidsode is an opportunity to push this conversation front and centre.

    • That’s the saddest comment I have read in a while. I’m not having a go, I just find the comment disheartening.

      I hope you are not offended at me saying that, but if you are, perhaps consider that you had thoughts that many others have had too…

  8. It’s not hype, it’s genuine human compassion from colleagues and fans of the sport. Just because crashes and fatalities happen daily all over the world doesn’t devalue the gravity of Bianchi’s situation. The blame game is petty. A talented young driver is in a critical state and people are reacting with natural sympathy. If you don’t feel compelled to join in what you believe is “hype”, simply go about your business. To depreciate the outpouring of support, although you see it unfit, is base.

    • … Thanks Tylar MK

      Also, it may be that Charlie Whiting suffered some political pressure to bring in the 0.5 seconds reg. If this is the case, then an independent inquiry is absolutly required to look for systemic failings within the FIA.

      This is why Gary Harstein is concerned Charlie will be made a scapegoat. He carries the can – but gets a great pension… keeps quiet, and the Todt administration looks as clean as a whistle – which it may be or not.

      Then again if Bernie chirps up – all hell may break loose….. or all parties agree “racing incident” nothing more to see folks.

      • How much political pressure do you suppose was applied to Charlie in his decision not to move the race start forward?

        • Massive pressure had been brought to move the start of the race….. Interestingly, Adam Cooper was repeatedly tweeting a polemic to have the race moved forward to Saturday – Thursday I believe

          There was also a lot of gossip in the paddock that Bernie wanted a Saturday race, as he was concerned were the typhoon to be as powerful as forecast, the F1 show may be stuck in Japan for an extended period of time – and fail to get to Sochi in time.

          Oh and for Vortex M who questioned whether the moving forward of the race was possible, here’s what Max Mosely had to say on the matter

          “The FIA. Everything to do with safety is the FIA – even right down to cancelling the race because of the weather and postponing it to the following day. You would be very reluctant to do that but if there was any safety question you would do everything that was necessary.” (SKY F1 UK)

          Max chose the example of postponement rather than bringing it forward – though his sentiments are clear.

          Honda were kicking off about contractual obligations and maybe even refusing to pay if the race time was moved – and so it wasn’t.

    • The ‘outpuring of support’ has been going on for weeks now. Drivers standing in a circle on the track is not going to help Jules’ recovery. In fac t there might be nothing that modern medicine can actually do.
      The thing is, however, it is used as a front to prevent dealing with the issue that Jules had a major part in causing the accident, so instead of bemoaning the result, we should concentrate on making sure nobody else repeats that mistake and ends up the same, but we can’t do that if we blind ourselves by ritual mourning.

  9. I don’t often post here, but just wanted to say what a brave and well put piece you have written here Hippo. I am old enough to remember when life threatening or ending injuries were common – the fact that this is a shock to people is testimony to how safety has been improved in F1. As anyone that has ever read their ticket to any Motorsport event should know ‘motorsport is dangerous’

  10. The author fails to understand that short of an independent investigation – the cause of the accident and the systems that allowed that event to occur may never be known. It’s the same reason why the CAA or the FAA investigate air crashes and not the airlines.

    The article itself is merely speculation and innuendo – as he has no facts to support any of his allegations, and as such not worth any value in the discussion.

  11. Well written. While it’s tragic what happened, the hysteria is akin to what’s happening the US over Ebola. US Ebola deaths = 1. US annual traffic fatalities = 30,000+

    Having said that the fan video of the crash makes the act of removing Sutil’s car look incredibly amateurish. The whole thing looks rushed and unprofessional. I foot to the right and Bianchi would have had the mother of all shunts and I suspect the close call with the tractor would be quickly forgotten just like the marshals on the at the race earlier this season. Was it Germany?

    • …It was Germany Steve, and there was the mother of all debates on this site about double waved yellows for days following the race….

      Led admirably by the Fat Hippo.

      • Back then we had the discussion of Lewis saying he was ‘shocked’ that no SC came out after Sutils car was stranded after the final corner.
        Back then I said that the section was under double waved yellows and it would have been perfectly safe had everyone paid attention to those. On one of the podcasts I suggested that pit speed limiters should be used in double yellow sections – way before Suzuka. It feels kind of creepy thinking that it could have meant that Jules was unharmed now. 🙁

  12. This article is correct in a world where everything is black and white. As everyone knows though there are huge grey areas in all situations in life. The fact is Bianchi was going too fast but with the rules as they are regarding yellow flags, how many of us if we were racing drivers would actually have slowed right down? Not many I bet, that’s why I feel the FIA have to take the brunt of the responsibility here. By creating the grey area regarding speeds during periods of double waved yellows the FIA has created a rod for its own back. They are culpable here and I think the fact Charlie mentioned taking the responsibility of slowing down away from the drivers shows they’re admitting they’ve realised what a mistake they’ve made. In the heat of the moment of a race it doesn’t surprise me to think the drivers don’t consider safety when they’re in the throngs of a race where the aim is to finish as high up as possible. I can’t blame them for this is it’s a natural human reaction where the adrenaline’s pumping to probably not consider safety. They’re just concentrating on racing. I’ve never driven a car that goes that fast but I imagine it’s hard to concentrate on anything else. Just saying

  13. Sort of laid low on this one…

    My thinking has been evolving way to rapidly to really place my head on the block with confidence. And you all know that I am not afraid of said block. In fact, it’s where I am most comfortable…

    But I have struggled with this one. I have struggled to untangle this mess to try to see through the smoke and mirrors as other issues are raised on the back of this accident…

    On one hand… as someone who motorcycle rides, and raced bikes and raced openwheelers, I am always exposed to danger and have been since 6. I am therefore bent toward internalising all responsibility of my saftey purely to me, no matter what the actual rules say. Because ultimately, I am the one who pays the price, I am the one who is accountable. So in that sense, it’s difficult not to accept that Jules simply lost control, didn’t drive to conditions and was hardly able to stop if he needed to. It’s hard not to think, frankly, that Jules is responsible for himself being on hospital now.

    HOWEVER, I also struggle (maybe in equal measure) with the fact Charlie Whiting has overtly asked the drivers, via his DWY interpretation, to disregard the overarching premise of DWY in all Motorsport, which is “be prepared to stop”. I mean, a 0.5sec back off interpretation, wtf?! Ridiculous!! And these drivers are competitive people, wired to gain any advantage at all times. So in effect, the fact DWY’s were not followed was Charlie Whitings fu$ked interpretation. The fact there is a culture in F1 of not understanding DWY’s is the FiA’s fault ultimately. “Be Preparred To Stop!”.

    So all I can say, with any surety, is this:

    1) F1, and the powers that be, are fu$king lucky that Bianchi didn’t obliterate a marshal, or two!!!

    2) F1 reporters are cowards, and surprisingly unintelligent. They have no ability to apply any real pressure to uncover facts. It’s actually amazing to me… Perhaps I am not as cynical as I thought to think this F1 accredited mob might have some capacity for thought.

    3) Anyone who has said, or suggested, to another that “it’s about Jules… how can you think about this… Leave it to the FiA… Isn’t Jules’ health the real issue” etc, is a total moron trading on artificial holier-than-thou rhetoric. We all care for Jules. No one doesn’t want Jules to get the best help and get better.

    4) We must continue to strive to fight righteous indignation IF it’s an impediment to truth. And it often is.

    In that sense, I have to praise the Fat Hippo and his article. It’s brave. Brave is good. Intelect can be earned, maybe, but bravery can’t be – IMHO.

    But also massive praise to The Judge in his campaign, and copping flack from the establishment. Not willing to wait for a likely contrived series of bullsh|t statements / investigation factoids from the FiA. That, and also in the initial aftermath having the stones to tell the fu$kwit pious pricks to piss off and publishing pictures, videos and asking hard questions.

    Credit where’s it’s due.

    Ultimately, even writing this comment my thoughts have evolved or clarified further. I suppose in summary, Jules is responsible for Jules, IMHO. The FiA and Charlie is responsible (culpable) for the environment and culture of DWY’s meaning nothing in F1 and recently actually instructing the drivers to ignore the very premise of what DWY’s are. They are responsible for the creating the fertile environment for this to have inevitably happened. They’d have been responsible for a Marshal death, not Jules.



    • I love your work, Mr SIS.
      The incident serves as a shocking placemarker for a sport that is f*cked up on so many levels that I seriously wonder how long it can continue in anything like its current format.
      Insofar as the incident is concerned, I can’t help but look at it through the lens of heavy industrial safety, having worked for and with companies with enormous safety focus for 20 years or so.
      Any investigator worth their salt would be bashing all and sundry to a bloody pulp for a f*cking dismal effort all round.
      The drivers, the teams, the officials and the administrators all contributed heavily. Taken in isolation, Bianchi was at fault. But nothing ever happens in isolation. The poor risk perception of the whole field of drivers is clear – aided and abetted by that stunning 0.5second ruling from CW.
      Absolutely no-one is without blame here. They all powdered when they should have said “this is nuts”.
      In industry, the government regulator would be rapidly moving into view about now with a several truckloads of pineapples on order.
      I eagerly await the FIA stepping up and taking names prior to kicking some serious @ss :/

  14. This is indeed a really brave piece you wrote, Fat Hippo. And I have a lot of sympathy for the view that common sense should always prevail above anything. Unfortunately this is F1 and I think it’s safe to say that common sense doesn’t prevail as often as it should be.

    The common sense thing would have been to move the race to a day before and let the drivers have a clean race in the dry. It might not have made for a great race but a dry race is, arguably, not going to put drivers in as much risk as a wet race might. And yes : they are paid massive amounts of money to do just that but ideally you don’t want drivers to put their lives on the line and actually pay for it like Senna did and like Bianchi *might* have to. I think it is Honda that decided that the race should start at the original time and refused to move it, so Honda should definitely have some questions asked about why they didn’t budge. I wouldn’t be surprised if “we wanted more $$” was the first thought that popped in their heads, bit like Beberstone.

    Then, from the drivers’ perspective : I also agree that ultimately it is a personal responsibility to drive “safely” but fast. They’re the ones at the wheel so they are the ones who must make sure that if any situation happens where they might be at risk of going off or whatever, they have to take the right steps to ensure that. F1 Drivers probably feel that they are totally invincible and that too is unsurprising : they are trained to think of themselves as the hyper-best in the world. The word “backing off” probably doesn’t exist in their mental dictionary. I guess part of the reason why F1 has such an attraction is that you know you are putting your life on the line and you know you are taking chances with it but you want to get away with that.

    There has been a lot of talk about how to deal with safety-car situations and neutralizing a race without taking away the racing context (gaps between cars for instance), and having pit-lane limiters in the section where DWY are applied for instance. But let’s say that cars are limited to 100 kph, even that speed may not result in the same context for each car. The Mercedes or the Red Bull have way better aero performance than the Marussia or the Caterham, so where Hamilton, Rosberg, Vettel and Ricciardo could get away with racing at 200 kph without going off because they had much higher downforce, perhaps the Marussia or the Caterham would not hack it until it slowed down to say 130 kph because it hasn’t got as good aero performance.

    I won’t comment on what CW and his board of stewards could and could not have done, but I would not be surprised that if they lead their investigation the result turns out to be “We are blameless”. I feel Judge is right that there has to be an independent investigation as that would lead to a clearer version of the truth and given the latest comments from Jules’ mother, I can only feel that the FIA have something bad to hide.

    It’s a really complex thing, and one can look at it from totally different perspectives and reach completely different conclusions.

  15. Well mister hippo. I rarely agree with you( but I like your writings) but this one is, to a certain degree, absolutely my opinion. F1 drivers have a false feeling of safety. Look at the massa incident. Not likely that a spring nearly takes out your eye but it did happen. And there was less drama about that than about jules. Even though massa had no fault in this what so ever. And jules isn’t without fault here. Of course it’s a matter of more factors and wrong time wrong place and what not. But it’s refreshing to see this here. No other f1 site does this! Cheers mate.

  16. Of course you must realise that if Bianchi had slowed down to whatever speed you think would have been “safe” in that section of track, he would then have been responsible for causing another car to crash into the back of him because he was going so slowly?

    That then negates the whole idea of going at a “safe speed” since it’s such a subjective term. While the double waved yellows rule were obviously designed for dry sunny conditions, the fact is that by giving a set number to work to (0.5 second/sector) that took subjectivity out of the equation, which is a good thing. It should have been 10 seconds per sector, or 20, but the point is the Jules was doing what he was supposed to do.

    And can we stop comparing this to conditions on public roads? Driving on the road is effectively a completely different universe to racing on a track – No comparisons can work properly.

    • Sorry, but that logic is flawed. If you read the article again, you’ll find that I said ALL of the should have slowed down to a somewhat more appropriate speed, not just Jules.

      • But what is that more appropriate speed? Different drivers are going to come up with different answers to that question. Those differences mean there would be a high likelyhood of someone running into the back of someone else. So a safety protocol actually leads to an unsafe situation. That’s why specific numbers are required – so subjectivity is taken out of it. 0.5sec/sector was the specific number, and Jules was working to that.

  17. Yes they should have, but knowing that they wouldn’t be, Jules would have created more of a hazard by slowing down more.
    I agree with most of your post but it’s harsh to blame Jules here, as all the other drivers had passed the scene without incident, at similar speeds, since Sutil went off.

  18. Hippo, in your rant against #ForzaJules, you actually provide quite good explanation for the basis for the response and its usefulness:

    a realization that “there but for the grace of [non-existent]God go I…” so “we need to improve the system to ensure we don’t feel compelled to gratuitously risk our lives in certain situations (like double waved yellow)” but “we lack the collective will to do something manly like abandon (like Lauda)” but “we’ll get the ball rolling – globally – by turning to social media and generating grassroots support amongst the fans so the next time there are circumstances like this, and one of us has to be the first to retire the ‘perfectly healthy car’, maybe we won’t be excoriated on Twitter and by extension, via the shitty BBC“…

  19. Reader for 2 or 3 months now, podcast listener, never commented before.

    Thank you Hippo – # tags are a bullshit means of group sorrow and back patting.

  20. I can’t help but feel that there’s a little irony in the way that people are backing FH’s point about the over-use of the #ForzaJules hashtag and the alleged empty rhetoric/posturing behind it, but then congratulating him for being “brave” for writing this post. If you asked someone to think of a brave act, I don’t think writing an opinion piece on a niche website under a pseudonym would be the first thing that sprung to mind.

    While I agree that there can sometimes be a bit of one-upping in terms of how people try and express their feelings towards Jules’ crash, it’s worth remembering that it helps keep the main story of the crash in the press which will consequently make it harder (you’d hope…) for it to just be buried as “one of those things” and for nothing to change. If people are trying to keep pressure on to use Bianchi’s crash as a reason to implement the changes that you (FH) yourself had been suggesting in the past, surely that’s better than there being no long-term change? With the changes in team line-up and contract talks at the moment it would be pretty easy for Bianchi’s crash and any follow-up to it just being pushed out of sight and out of mind – at least news stories about drivers statements relating to it, and even down to the stories covering JEV getting those “Tous avec Jules” stickers made up aren’t allowing spurious conjecture about salaries, performance clauses and contract lengths dominate the media.

    Regarding the drivers themselves, you mentioned about them “feeling invincible” – this reminder that they’re not seems to have shaken them judging from their immediate reactions post-Suzuka, and from the comments made to the press here and there. Again, if that realisation means that they push for changes to the rules to improve safety then how is that a bad thing? If a bit of embellishment in how they describe things/their feelings acts as any form of catalyst to forcing at least a discussion about changing safety procedures in F1 then I don’t really see why that’s a bad thing as such. As far as Jules is concerned it’s clearly too little too late, but again, surely it would be worse for there to just be a sense of apathy and for nothing to happen as a result of his crash?

    To switch tack slightly, a friend of mine was a high level sportsperson who suffered a serious injury that was at least potentially career-ending but at worst could have been potentially life-ending. His fans and other members of that particular community used a hashtag in a similar vein, and I know that his family were really taken aback and buoyed by the simple sense that people actually cared, and held their son/brother in such high regard (as he recovered, the messages of support helped motivate him too). It seems that they’re having a similar effect on the Bianchi family too according to Marussia:
    “The Bianchi family continue to be comforted by the thoughts and prayers of Jules’ many fans and the motor sport community. In particular, the many demonstrations of support and affection during the course of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi were of enormous comfort to Jules’ parents and the relatives and friends also present at the hospital…”

    I’m clearly not saying that the usage of hashtags or saying that “Jules is in [your] thoughts” will have a direct effect on him recovering, but if it’s having a positive effect on his family/friend’s emotional state then I’m willing to have to see the occasional hashtag/message appear.

    To clarify my position on the whole matter, I agree that a significantly reduced speed would have meant this incident would have likely been averted and that consequently Bianchi was at least partially at fault for the accident. However, I’d also say that the FIA have a duty of care to everyone involved in F1 and that, with current regulations/’directives’, they aren’t suitably protecting them. To me, that is a bigger issue than how people choose to utilise social networks, and much more worthy of ire compared to being annoyed by people offering up messages of support – irrespective of their motives.

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