Lessons from Bianchi crash still go unheeded


One of the most shocking admissions coming out of the FIA following Jules Bianchi’s tragic crash at Suzuka in 2014, was that for a while, the race director Charlie Whiting no visibility of the recovery vehicle. Neither the FOM TV camera’s or the circuit CCTV were covering that portion of the circuit.

At the 2015 Austrian GP, it became apparent that what may have been vital information was again not recorded.

On the first lap there was a coming together between Fernando Alonso and Kimi, which that saw the Spaniard’s car mount the front of the Ferrari and the two machines locked together then continued for scrape along the barrier until all the momentum was dissipated.

FOM TV’s director scrabbled for several minutes to find footage of the incident, though eventually realised there was nothing definitive that explained how the coming together was initiated.

Commentators around the world debated whether Kimi had lost the rear of the car or conversely whether Fernando or someone else had tagged him.

All the cars are fitted with FOM TV cameras that broadcast onboard footage during the race. However, for a technical reason that is rooted in a simple lack of resource, not all cars onboard cameras can be set to record during a Formula One race.

Alonso’s car was not selected to be part of the broadcast at this year’s Austrian GP.

The Tilke neutered Red Bull Ring these days is not spread across a vast terrain and to that end, less trackside TV camera’s were required than for somewhere like The Marina Bay circuit in Singapore.

For live and pre-recorded feature games in the English Football Premier League, Sky install 24 camera’s for their broadcast. A football pitch must be between 45-90 metres wide and between 90-120 metres long.

FOM TV is owned and run by the commercial rights holder, though for purposes of safety and the race steward’s deliberations, this footage forms part of the FIA’s information supply.

Clearly a bank of screens with live TV footage from the 20 cars and 30-50 other cameras recording aspects of the race and associated action would be too confusing for the already much maligned FOM TV director. However, there is no excuse for not recording pictures from both cars and camera’s which are ‘offline’, to improve post race stewards deliberations or that are critical to safety management.

21 responses to “Lessons from Bianchi crash still go unheeded

  1. All cameras not sending HD footage to FOM should at least be set to record low-quality, low-frame footage to some on-board solid-state storage.

    If a £100 IP camera can record 3 independent feeds at various levels of quality to a £10 on-board MicroSD card AND multiple remote network sources, there’s no excuse, is there?

  2. Totally agree. There is no reason we shouldn’t have on-boards from every car for safety reasons. And it is time to start thinking about the closed cockpit concept too. I like seeing the drivers as much as anyone else, but I’m starting to wonder if they are still too exposed.

  3. Maybe that’s why the steward decisions always seem to take an hour. They have no footage of the incident most of the time and debate who’s turn it is to get the blame.

  4. Agree that it is shocking that they don’t have all the footage from all the cameras, but is it financial/organisational resource limits or technical ones – ie. is there actually not enough bandwidth to broadcast all the cameras from the cars? Given that the on-board pictures are pretty good quality now I can see radio bandwidth being an issue with so many cars active. Even if that is the case they should record it to onboard memory for later recovery anyway which doesn’t seem to happen….

    • Must be a cost issue as its pretty straight forward to broadcast on a different frequency. It’s another case of the FOM not investing in the sport,just take take take. After all the hoohaw over the mounting of the red bull camera you would think that a simple record feed would have been present

    • Again solution might be to have non selected cars broadcasting standard def to save on bandwidth.

      But better yet circuits should be required to have all of track on CCTV and be able to make footage available to FOM/FIA if requested during any portion of the Event. It should be part of track accreditation.

      • Yep – there should be a solution for on-board, just trying to work out what the current problem is.

        And it is verging on criminal that the circuits don’t have coverage of all the track from more than one angle for the whole event. As you say @mattpt55 it should be a standard part of the accreditation.

    • Can we not have a system whereby broadcasting cars use the bandwidth, those not broadcasting save their info to a SSD, that can then be broadcast retrospectively? So each car is always recording, even if there is a limit on the broadcasting back to FOM side of things. *n.b. I don’t know enough about the tech to confirm if that’ll work or not.

  5. Great insight Judge. Didn’t know that not all the onboard cameras are available on record every weekend, which is quite a surprise. You’d have thought that for a sport where onboard camera’s can be critical for assessing incidents that this would be an absolute must. A lack of resources is a poor excuse for such a big sport.

  6. They should have on-boards from all cars at all times. Also there should be no blind spots on track. But that’s not the only issue common with Bianchi’s accident. It’s the fact that driver was under a solid object and his head was millimeters away from impact. Otherwise this was similar to what happened to Alonso in Spain at pre-season tests. Was this driver’s fault or the car’s fault, or a mix of both?

    • By the way, do Ferrari even care about what happened to Raikkonen and whether there is a problem with their car or new PU? Raikkonen didn’t have these problems before Canada.

  7. Regarding circuit cameras, for race weekends, FOM sets up a ring network around the circuit to gather timing data, and wireless data from the cars. Adding a few stationary cameras that network would have helped in this case.

  8. You have judges of fact at each flag point. Observers/communicators are witnesses (as is everyone else on the flag point) who provide incident reports and can be called as witnesses to any Stewards hearing. They are generally experienced in reporting back what occurred.

  9. The Dwarf knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. We’re talking about less than a couple of £k here and the tight shortarse won’t even spend that.
    This is something the FIA could ensure is sorted and sorted quickly too, as it’s their stewards who are expected to sort out these issues.

  10. We really know whats going on here. #44’s career took off after he “mounted Kimi from the rear” at the pit exit during the 2008 Canada GP….Alonso was just hoping for the same after effect from “mounting Kimi from the rear”

  11. Clearly all that money the generous Bernie gives to the teams fairly means he is unable to afford came … oh no wait ….

  12. In Case Of JAPAN 2014, With Or Without Cameras On Cars, Or On The Circuit, No Excuse Whatsoever To Force Video Sites To Take Down Individual Footage.

    Fortunately, Not All Sites Chicken Out.

    GOOGLE – VIMEO 108126461

    It Is Still Available There.


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