FIA panel makes recommendations

The Panel was swiftly formed in the wake of Bianchi’s crash during the Japanese Grand Prix on October 5 when he ran into the back of a mobile crane.
Under the auspices of Peter Wright, the FIA’s president of the Safety Commission, the Panel comprised such respected figures as Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali, Emerson Fittipaldi and Alex Wurz.
Ahead of a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Doha, Qatar, on Wednesday, and with Bianchi still unconscious and in a critical condition in a Nice hospital, the Panel presented their findings in a 396-page report.
Following a detailed examination of the evidence, the Panel has put forward a number of proposals they believe will serve the interests of not just Formula One in future, but motor sport in general.
Amongst their conclusions they discovered “a number of key issues occurred, which may have contributed to the accident, though none alone caused it”.
Aside from the obvious conditions at the time of rain and fading light, there was water draining onto the track at the point where Bianchi lost control of his Marussia.
The Accident Panel claim with double-waved yellow flags showing, given the recovery vehicle was removing the Sauber of Adrian Sutil that had crashed a lap previously, “Bianchi did not slow sufficiently to avoid losing control at the same point on the track as Sutil”.
They cite the fact if drivers adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags as set out in the regulations “then neither competitors nor officials should be put in immediate or physical danger”.
It has also been determined Bianchi “over-controlled the oversteering car, such that he left the track earlier than Sutil”.
Crucially, the “unique design” of the braking system on the Marussia “proved to be incompatible with the FailSafe settings” which would ordinarily have cut the engine.
The Panel noted: “The fact the FailSafe did not disqualify the engine torque requested by the driver may have affected the impact velocity; it has not been possible to reliably quantify this.
“However, it may be Bianchi was distracted by what was happening and the fact his front wheels had locked, and been unable to steer the car such that it missed the crane.”
With Bianchi’s helmet striking the crane, “the magnitude of the blow and the glancing nature of it caused massive head deceleration and angular acceleration, leading to his severe injuries”.
The Panel are adamant “all rescue and medical procedures were followed, and their expediency are considered to have contributed significantly to the saving of Bianchi’s life”.
The suggestion a closed-cockpit or skirts on the underside of the crane would have helped spare Bianchi his injuries have been dismissed.
The report stated that: “Neither approach is practical due to the very large forces involved in the accident between a 700kg car striking a 6500kg crane at a speed of 126kph.
“There is simply insufficient impact structure on a F1 car to absorb the energy of such an impact without either destroying the driver’s survival cell, or generating non-survivable decelerations.
“It is considered fundamentally wrong to try and make an impact between a racing car and a large and heavy vehicle survivable.
“It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it.”
In terms of the recommendations, it has been determined new rules with regard to double yellow flags and the imposition of a speed limit where they are being waved be drawn up immediately to ensure they come into force for 2015.
It has been requested a review of safety critical software and measures to check its integrity take place, whilst guidelines on circuit drainage are also to be reviewed.
A four-hour rule should be imposed whereby “the start time of an event shall not be less than four hours before either sunset or dusk”, with the obvious exception of night races.
It has also been recommended the F1 calendar be reviewed “in order to avoid, where possible, races taking place during local rainy seasons”, which could impact on Japan’s September/October date.
Drivers newly acquiring a super licence required to compete in F1 should undertake a course, and pass a test, to familiarise themselves with safety procedures for an event and the regulations.
Tyre supplier Pirelli are to be requested that in between each season adequate testing of wet-weather rubber is undertaken.
Finally, there should be an F1 risk review “to ascertain whether there are any significant holes in the safety defences, such that an unforeseen combination of circumstances could result in a serious accident”.

Comments