Todt calls for report on Bianchi crash


FIA president Jean Todt has called on Race Director Charlie Whiting for a report on the circumstances surrounding Jules Bianchi's crash during the Japanese GP.

Whilst the original accident was initially missed by the TV cameras covering the race, subsequent footage filmed by a fan has revealed the full horror of the incident.

With the incident still dominating headlines around the world, the FIA has called for an investigation ahead of this weekend's Russian Grand Prix.

One part of the incident that led to speculation of a major error by the 'powers that be' was the green flag being waved as Adrian Sutil's car was being moved behind the safety barrier, after a gap had been created in the barrier through which the tractor could remove it, thereby leading to clams that Bianchi might have been mistakenly led to believe that the area was clear.

In fact however, an anomaly of the siting of the marshals' post, and quite possibly the rules, was that the green flag was after the scene of the incident and also indicated that the recovery vehicle was now effectively behind the marshals' post and that the area was now clear. The marshals' post immediately before the Sutil crash scene was still waving double-yellow flags.

However, the fact remains that when Sutil went off, the car on track ahead of him was Bianchi. In normal conditions he most likely would have seen the incident in his mirrors and been prepared next time around. However, in the increasing rain the Frenchman will have seen nothing and been entirely reliant on the information given to him by his team and the marshals.

With an entire lap to complete before he arrived back at scene of Sutil's accident, and with drivers, including race leader Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa, warning of the conditions, the big question is why wasn't the Safety Car deployed.

Responsibility for the deployment of the Safety Car is down to Race Director Charlie Whiting who was already being criticised for - in the opinion of most drivers - leaving it out on track too long after the re-start of the race earlier. However, Whiting is understood to have been concerned that in the conditions some cars might not have the downforce levels of the Mercedes and might yet aquaplane.

Speaking of the incident, former FIA President Max Mosley, who made a personal crusade of improving saferty standards - both in motorsport and road cars - described it as a "freak" incident.

"What happened in Suzuka was very unfortunate, a freak accident, and I can't really fault any of the people involved, the marshals or the race director or any of those people," he told Sky Sports. "Everything was done as it should have been.

"There is pretty much an automatic procedure," he continued, "which is that as soon as a car goes off, that car becomes a danger to other cars because if another car going off hits it, the effects are unpredictable. So you want to remove the car as quickly as possible.

"They then send a tractor to do that but before they do that you get a succession of flags at the previous marshals' post; a stationary, a waved and, if necessary, a double-waved yellow, to warn the drivers that this is going on and they must slow down and take every precaution, because if they go off in the same place then it is, in the first instance, obviously very dangerous for the marshals."

It is understood that Whiting, who is now in Sochi preparing for this weekend's inaugural Russian Grand Prix, was contacted by Todt yesterday and told to begin an immediate inquiry.

Meanwhile, Bernie Ecclestone, who was not in Japan, called on the FIA to hand over any investigation of the incident for an independent enquiry.

"It's difficult for me to say what happened and it will be for an inquiry to find out exactly what did go on," he told The Times. "We have done so much for safety. These days, you see an accident on the track and the driver undoes his safety belt, flips off his steering wheel and jumps out unharmed.

I have always said that if I was going to have an accident, it would be in a Formula One car," he added, "because they are the safest in the world. But things happen and we have to find out the cause. This happened to a young man who is very close to us all and that has caused a terrible shock for everyone. Our thoughts are with him and his family."

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Published: 07/10/2014
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