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

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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.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.