Whilst it’s lovely that we live in a world so full of tolerance that everyone has a point of view and no one is to blame, the result of a lack of accountability will be that the same mistakes are made again and again.
TJ13 has suggested on a number of occasions that F1 race control should be reformed and the F1 race director replaced. It was unacceptable that Charlie Whiting as race director was in no way culpable for a number of decisions made both prior to the 2014 Japanese GP and during the race too.
Now it may be Whiting was told by Ecclestone ‘run the race – or else!!!’ – given the tens of millions at stake for FOM and CVC. Yet if this was the case, then the power of the race director should be redefined and reaffirmed. As safety delegate Whiting of course had the right to tell Ecclestone or anyone else to ‘do one’ – but chose not to. This merely serves to illustrate that the dual roles of Whiting as race director and F1 safety delegate as inappropriate.
Whatever were the detailed rights and wrongs of that fateful day in Suzuka, the simple fact was that a recovery vehicle was on a live circuit when the cars were circulating at an inappropriate speed to avoid what we all saw as the result.
During qualifying in China there was a radio message from Jenson Button which should have chilled anyone involved in F1 to the core. “There’s a car parked at the entrance to the pits. If we go off were going to hit it.”
It also appears as though there was a marshal stood to the left with no protection between him and the cars – and he’s looking away from the source of potential danger.
At the end of qualifying Jenson questioned a second ‘safety’ incident when he commented: “I was surprised when we had a red flag at the end of the session for the Force India,” said Button. “He had pulled off and there was an opening for the car to be pulled back into, so that was a surprise to see a red flag. It was unusual to see that”. Hulkenberg had lost a wheel.
Button also referenced the earlier incident he called in on the radio, and did so in a tragic kind of ironic observation “But then we had the car parked at the pit entry, which was directly in the way of us, and there was no red flag. It wouldn’t have been my call.”
Have lessons from Bianchi’s death really been learned by the FIA? Well the FIA have delivered a virtual safety car which is not fit for purpose and does not comply with the original design brief. Further, we still have vehicles parked on live circuits where they shouldn’t be – and a race director/safety delegate who is either incompetent or plain negligent.
“A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them” – John C Maxwell