You will have to excuse me if I quote from the Editorial Column of GP+, but I think that it best encapsulates the racer’s view of what motor racing is all about and what it should and should not be. It was published beneath the headline “Racing is also this…” just a few hours after Bianchi’s accident.
“Of all the Formula 1 racers of the modern generation, Jules Bianchi is the one with perhaps the best understanding of what motorsport can be like,” it says. “He comes from a family that knows only too well about triumph and tragedy. Motor racing is a cruel sport despite the best efforts that are made to try to protect the drivers from all possible dangers. Even with the knowledge and the pain that the family had to endure, Bianchi chose to pursue F1 as his career. He knew what he was doing and we hope that he will be able to one day race again. We have every confidence that the FIA Safety Department will examine the accident in a scientific way and if there are lessons to be learned they will be learned. It is a time for calm consideration. All we can do, all we should do, is wish him and his family the best in these difficult times.”
What is not required at this particular moment is the kind of rampant sensationalism and hysteria that seems that have engulfed the fans and the media, a lot of it based on incorrect assessments of what happened and signals that were misinterpreted. A lot of people are doing a lot of talking and I have seen quotes – misused or not – that I would not expect to see from people who ought to know better. There is no need for any inquiry, independent or otherwise. This all smacks of people trying to take advantage of the circumstances to use the crash as a weapon in political games. What is really required from the sport right now is less clutter and a clear-headed approach to analysing the questions that are being raised about the accident. Science is all about precision and this is what we need. Not waffle.
Adrian Sutil went off on his 41st lap. At the time he was running directly behind Jules Bianchi. A lap lap Bianchi went off at exactly the same place. Sutil went sideways but it seems that Bianchi was going straight, unable to turn the car, presumably because of the wet grass. The fastest men at that point in the race were lapping in 1m54s and 1m55s, which means that the rescue crew had almost completed the job required in the space of two minutes – from the moment Sutil hit the wall until the moment Bianchi hit the rescue truck. That is highly efficient. It was all done under suitable caution lights and flags. Conditions were changing and the track was getting wetter. It was relatively dark because of the clouds that were coming in. However the light signals that the drivers could see were not obscured in any way. There is a reason for everything that was done (before and after the accident). There was no issue with the helicopter. The visibility at the hospital was not by then good enough for the chopper to land. The hospital is close to the track and the ambulance had a police escort and arrived rapidly. It is true that the helicopter did take off at the same time that the ambulance departed, but this was because it was flying elsewhere and had been stood down after the decision to use the ambulance was taken. As far as I can see, everything was done in as logical and correct fashion as possible. There was confusion about the name of the hospital, but these things can get lost in translation and it was swiftly remedied.
The people who are concerned with F1 safety are far more qualified than anyone else to make judgments about the accident – and they are people who say what they think, not what people want them to say. They care about what they do. So we should respect their decisions because who among us is qualified to challenge them? Yes, perhaps those who have been F1 for decades and have seen a lot might attack them if there was something that was obviously a mistake, but that is not the case in this accident.
So all of this other nonsense should be stopped immediately, or exposed as the sensationalism and/or politics that it is. This should not be used as a means of cleaning out the last remnants of the Mosley FIA, nor should it be part of any bigger power politics between the big players. People pushing these agendas should just back off and shut up. And, unpopular though the view may be, motor racing does not – and should not – have to answer to people who know nothing about the subject on which they are spouting forth. I am all for engaging with the F1 fans, but not when one gets into accidents. The real experts are the people running the show and it is arrogant in the extreme for anyone out there on the couches of the world to think that they know better because they saw a green flag being waved and did not understand why.
One needs to look at the accident without emotion and examine every aspect of it: the timing, the flagwork, the electronic flagging systems, the speeds and the attitude of the drivers towards caution signals. Sometimes in life there is no one to blame for something that happens. There are times when there is a need to assign responsibility, but there are also occasions when no-one is to blame. All the officials were doing their utmost to avoid what happened, but it still happened.