FIA creates accident panel to investigate Jules Bianchi crash

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The FIA has announced this afternoon that it has created an accident panel to look into Jules Bianchi’s devastating crash at the Japanese Grand Prix.

According to the FIA’s statement, the panel will “carry out a full review of the accident to gain a better understanding of what happened, and will propose new measures to reinforce safety at circuits, with recommendations to be made for the FIA President.”

It goes on to say that the panel will begin investigating this week and present its findings during the next World Motor Sport Council meeting on Dec. 3 in Qatar.

Among the members of the panel are former F1 team principals Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali, two-time World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi, and Grand Prix Drivers Association president Alex Wurz.

At last official update, Bianchi remains in a critical but stable condition at a Japanese hospital after running off course and hitting a recovery vehicle during the Oct. 5 race at Suzuka Circuit.

The full panel is listed as follows:

Presidency

Peter Wright, President of the Safety Commission

Members

Ross Brawn, former Team Principal of Mercedes F1 Team, Brawn Grand Prix  and former Technical Director of Scuderia Ferrari

Stefano Domenicali, former Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari

Gerd Ennser, Chief Stewards’ representative

Emerson Fittipaldi, President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, F1 Steward

Eduardo de Freitas, WEC Race Director

Roger Peart, President of the Circuits Commission, President of the ASN of Canada, F1 Steward

Antonio Rigozzi, Advocate, Judge at the International Court of Appeal of the FIA co-opted by the teams

Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA Institute and President of the Medical Commission

Alex Wurz, President of the GPDA, drivers’ representative

During the most recent Grand Prix weekend in Russia, FIA race director Charlie Whiting said that his organization would meet with teams to discuss possible ideas on safety.

Indy 500 analyst role part of looking forward for Danica Patrick

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It’s been 10 months since Danica Patrick last competed in an auto racing event and she is completely fine with that.

Patrick was last seen in a cockpit in last May’s Indianapolis 500, part of her mini-retirement tour from racing that also included a run in the Daytona 500.

Now she’ll be back at the track, serving as an analyst for NBC’s broadcast of the 103rd Indy 500 on May 26.

It will be an interlude to her post-racing career.

“I really don’t miss racing,” Patrick said during a teleconference Wednesday.  “I’m really happy. I selfishly set out (with) the intention I wanted to travel a lot. I’ve definitely done that. Also working on my other businesses.”

Without racing, Patrick is able to look over her “Warrior” clothing line and her Somnium wine. She’s also been a host of ESPN’s Espy Awards show.

“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward (person),” Patrick said. “This is something that’s part of looking forward. This is something totally new and different for me. It’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history, but it hasn’t been my job, which is why I’m going to work really hard to make sure I’m ready, like anything else I do that’s different.

Since retiring, Patrick said she watches racing “when I can.”

“I’m not going to lie, I’m happy doing what I’m doing,” Patrick said. “It’s allowed me new opportunities like this.”

This won’t be the first time Patrick has served in an analyst role for a race. She did the same for some Xfinity Series race broadcasts in the last few years of her NASCAR career.

“It’s very good to have had that experience,” Patrick said. “Obviously I was giving my driving experience sort of perspective and that insight, which is something I’m going to be doing again. But it was a guest spot.

“This is firm and established, part of a small team of two with Mike (Tirico) and I. I think there’s going to be a lot more preparation involved, I’m going to need to know a lot more information.”

Patrick said there will be one difference in her Indy 500 experience this year compared to the eight times she competed in the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”

“I didn’t purposely look at the buildup of the day,” Patrick said. “I didn’t want to see the fans rolling in, all the pomp and circumstance. I really liked to keep it quiet. I wanted to just walk out there and have it be the event, not let myself get built up too much in my head with nerves, just the platform, the iconic event that it was, the millions of people. I just wanted to stay focused and go do it.

“This time, I’m sure I will see the buildup. I’m sure I’ll see the place fill in and turn from a quiet, peaceful, magical place, (and) at the shot of a cannon it’s going to start unraveling. That will be a cool perspective for me that I purposely haven’t really watched closely.”

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