F1: Accident panel says Jules Bianchi “did not slow sufficiently” in Suzuka crash


As part of today’s World Motor Sport Council meeting in Qatar, the FIA’s Accident Panel presented a 396-page report on the severe accident involving Marussia driver Jules Bianchi in October’s Japanese Grand Prix. A summary of the report has been released online.

With track conditions rapidly deteriorating due to rain, Bianchi went off-course at Turn 7 on Lap 43 of the event and slammed into a mobile crane that was recovering the Sauber of Adrian Sutil, which had crashed in the same area one lap before.

Bianchi suffered severe head injuries and only recently came out of an artificial coma. He has since been transported back to a hospital in his home country of France.

Among the conclusions found by the Accident Panel was that Bianchi “did not slow sufficiently” to avoid losing control at Turn 7 before the accident.

Additionally, it was found that in the two seconds where Bianchi was going through the run-off area before impact, he hit both the throttle and brake together.

The FailSafe algorithm designed to override the throttle and cut the engine was instead “inhibited” by a torque coordinator that controls the brake-by-wire system, and Marussia’s own brake-by-wire design proved incompatible with the FailSafe settings.

In closing its conclusions, the panel also noted that it was not feasible to mitigate injuries such as Bianchi’s by outfitting cranes with skirts or enclosing the cockpits of the cars:

“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 (78 mph). 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.”

As for recommendations, the panel proposed a new regulation regarding the use of double-yellow flags (“The Clerk of the Course will impose a speed limit in any section of track where double yellow flags are being displayed.”), as well as having a minimum of four hours between the start of the race and sunset or dusk except in the case of night-time events.

Also, the panel suggested that all newly Super Licensed drivers take a mandatory course and test on safety procedures and that tire manufacturer Pirelli is given provision to better develop and test its wet-weather tires between each season.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,

SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.