The FIA has announced the membership of an Accident Panel to discuss Jules Bianchi’s accident at the Japanese Grand Prix. The group 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 – if they are deemed to be necessary. The work of the group will start this week and the findings will be presented to the FIA World Council in Doha on December 3. The Panle will be headed by Peter Wright, the President of the FIA Safety Commission, and a respected F1 engineer and safety expert. The panel will include former Team Principals Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali, Roger Peart, the President of the Circuits Commission, Gerd Ennser a representative of the FIA Stewards, Emerson Fittipaldi, President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, Eduardo de Freitas, the Race Director of the World Endurance Championship, Antonio Rigozzi, a judge at the International Court of Appeal, who has been co-opted by the teams, Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA Institute and President of the Medical Commission and Alexander Wurz, President of the GPDA.
The composition of the panel is not quite as expected with no specific safety experts other than Wright. It had been thought there might be more safety engineers involved, as they are the ones who have done the work on how best safety issues are addressed. Having said that there are a sufficient number of credible individuals on the panel to ensure that the proceedings will be fair. It is clear that the entire process is largely a public relations operation, as we have never seen such a panel before, despite there being regular accidents at all levels of the sport.