FIA to work with teams toward increased safety in wake of Bianchi crash


The FIA will engage with teams tomorrow in Sochi to determine ways of controlling speeds during safety car conditions following last weekend’s disastrous crash involving Jules Bianchi at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Race director Charlie Whiting, president Jean Todt, chief medical officer Jan-Charles Piette, and medical rescue coordinator Ian Roberts also revealed further details about that accident during a 75-minute press conference.

As far as controlling speeds go, Whiting mentioned the possibility of having teams run to a delta time under the safety car, effectively taking the decision to slow down out of their control.

“We want to engage with all the teams and the drivers to make sure that we come up with good, sound and well thought through ideas,” Whiting said according to Declan Quigley of James Allen On F1. “One of the most important things to learn here is that it is probably better to take the decision to slow down away from the drivers.

“I think it’s better to try to put in place a system that is much clearer to everybody how much we think cars should slow down under similar circumstances. That’s what we’re working on starting tomorrow morning with a meeting with all the teams to discuss exactly that – a way to to impose, for want of a better expression, a speed limit.

“It probably won’t be a speed limit as such but there will be, I believe, a way of controlling the speed with complete certainty and complete clarity.”

Other possibilities mentioned by Whiting include the addition of “skirts” to the mobile cranes used for recovering stricken cars.

During last Saturday night’s Grand Prix, Bianchi went off-course at Suzuka’s Turn 7 and hit a crane that was trying to remove the Sauber of Adrian Sutil after it had crashed in the same area a short time beforehand.

At last update, Bianchi is in critical but stable condition at a Japanese hospital with a diffuse axonal injury. His Marussia team has since said they’ll only be competing with one car (Max Chilton) in Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix; Bianchi’s No. 17 car has been repaired and is in the team’s garage but will remain there.

The FIA reports that the Frenchman had slowed down under the double-yellow flags waving for Sutil’s crash but lost control. Whiting maintained that the flags – and not a safety car for Sutil – was the best course of action at the time.

“The next stage up [from double-yellow flags] is a Safety Car, of course,” he said according to Sky Sports. “But because the car was well away from the track against the tire barrier, that’s the normal procedure for us to follow.”

Additionally, Whiting disclosed that some but not all drivers slowed down in the Turn 7 area following Sutil’s crash. He would not mention how much Bianchi slowed down before he went off-course.