Safety Car not needed for Sutil crash – Hamilton

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton defended the decision not to send out the Safety Car in response to Adrian Sutil’s crash during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Jules Bianchi was taken to hospital unconscious after spinning off at the same corner as Sutil and hitting a vehicle which had been sent to recover the Sauber.

Hamilton, who won the race, said it was not unusual for the Safety Car not to be used in such circumstances.

“That’s what they do all the time,” he told reporters at Suzuka. “That’s normal protocol just to get cars off the track for safety.”

“If the car was sitting there and someone would have gone off, they’d have hit the car. And there’s the yellow flag, and with the yellow flags you’re supposed to have a big lift, especially when it’s double yellow.”

“I was going through that sector and everyone seemed to have a big lift under yellow flags,” he added. “I could see there was a tractor and one car was being lifted. And then it wasn’t until it was red flagged that I could see there was another car somewhere in the mix there. So I couldn’t see exactly what was going on.”

Hamilton said he understood Bianchi had been “seriously injured” in the crash and added: “I hope he will be OK”.

While some drivers have criticised the decision to start the race on a very wet track, Hamilton said the conditions were fine and repeatedly said so on the radio before the Safety Car came in.

“They weren’t really that bad,” he said. “It was wet, obviously, but I’ve had much, much worse races in terms of aquaplaning and stuff. It started really badly and got quite intense and then they stopped the race.”

“When we went back out it was good, we were behind the Safety Car for a little bit too long. I kept saying on the radio ‘we’re good to go, we’re good to go’ because the track was great.

“But towards the end it started to rain a little bit more but it wasn’t causing me any problems particularly. But perhaps for others, so easy to lose temperature in these tyres, if you slow down a bit, then it’s very, very difficult.”

2014 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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103 comments on “Safety Car not needed for Sutil crash – Hamilton”

  1. So basically, he’s saying Bianchi’s crash was because he was careless?

    1. well it’s true isn’t it? as horrible as the situation is, if there wasn’t a fault in the car, it was bianchi’s fault.

    2. He is not saying that atall. Bianchi went off in double yellows. Many times safety car should came out look at Ger on the track.

    3. I wouldn’t so much say careless but simply he suffered an error in judgement. Could of happened at any wet race. I think it was rather the unfortunately placement of tractor than the horrendous conditions that contributed more to this accident.

      My thoughts go out to Jules

    4. If the facts show that, then you could say Bianchi was careless. We don’t know any info at all though.

      What Hamilton is basically saying is that drivers were absolutely slowing down. In the chaos, Bianchi may have been driving too fast or simply made a mistake. Recall the Caterham that spun under the SC.

    5. Now is not the time for speculation, it could have been a number of things, he may have underestimated the contions or he could have had a mechanical issue or he may have misread the situation. Right now his health is the main priority and IMO speculation shouldn’t be done till after everything else is sorted out. At the end of the day, its a serious accident which could have severe ramifications regarding his life as a whole. Prayers with Jules.

      1. @danlong253, ironical how you state we should not speculate, and then speculate yourself.

        Either way I agree with Hamilton. The FIA made the right choice, but sometimes stuff does happen. They cannot simply put cranes all over the place, at all circuits. In addition to that, this could’ve happend behind the Safety-Car as well. The driver was already warned, that’s not the issue.

    6. No, he says that not everyone should jump on the OMG the safety car should have come out IMMEDIATELY bandwagon, and try to assign blame to race control, which is what I’ve been seeing.

      1. Exactly! This is something i like about Hamilton.

    7. No, he isn’t saying that ‘basically’ or at all. He’s saying that in similar situations, the safety car isn’t usually sent out. They just get the car off the track as quickly as possible. He’s saying that the use of yellow flags is the norm and that’s usually enough.

      We don’t know what happened. Bianchi could have slowed down and still hydroplaned. The rain had picked back up and there was a lot of water on the track.

      How about we find out how Jules’ is, and wait at least a day before pointing fingers and using 20/20 hindsight? He and his family need our good thoughts and prayers, not speculation about an incident that we didn’t even see.


      1. I agree that in dry wheather the SC should not necessarily be deployed in a similar situation. But in rain and with poor visibility, the SC should be deployed whenever a crane or martials are inside the fence on the outside of corners.

    8. Boy, some of you read into comments what you want to.

      1. Well I agree with Hamilton. I think the FIA need to think carefully about the future of tractor/cranes at obvious run-off areas, Martin Brundle, as he always does, expressed his concern when the crane came out, a concern based on experience and tragically prophetic. In the end though it was an error under caution, I hope Jules makes a full recovery.

    9. I don’t quite understand why the Marshall in the tower above the accident swaps from waving double yellow flags to waving a green flag just before Bianchi hits the recovery vehicle? Then he sticks with green until race control deploy the safety car. Why is that?

  2. For once I agree with Hamilton.

    1. Does Lewis actually say” safety car not needed for Sutil crash” ?

  3. …well obviously we all know now that the safety car would’ve helped to prevent Jules’ accident, but at the time I didn’t think it needed a safety car either and nor did the stewards. I thought yellow flags would be sufficient.

    1. How do we know a safety car would have helped? Drivers do crash under safety car when aquaplaning also, they can aquaplane at any speed.

  4. I think he’s trying to say (either in his often somewhat careless style, or he’s being quoted slightly out of context) that sometimes going really slowly in the wet (behind the SC) makes things worse as you lose tyre temperature and peversely could have contributed to Bianchi’s accident. Not sure how that stands up given an aquaplaning situation as both Sutil’s and Bianchi’s crashes appeared to be.

  5. It was shown how HAM was tiptoeing at that same part of the track, when the Sky commentators were confused why he was going so slow

    1. Because the saftey car

      1. Sorry waved yellows as the poster below said. Ham slowed alot a he had a buffer it was double waved yellows he did not want to risk a pen.

    2. They announced that the SC was coming out so he had to drive to a certain time.

    3. Indeed I saw Hamilton just creeping and getting passed by a cater ham. I thought he had a failure.

  6. Yeah he’s actually right. Sutil’s accident shouldn’t have brought the safety car. Double yellow flags would have been enough

    1. Correction, double yellow flags SHOULD have been enough.

  7. I think F1 has to think about the “Slow zone” that the 24 Hours of Le Mans started to use this year, it makes recovery safer at parts of the track, and if the full course is dangerous, than the SC can be deployed.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      5th October 2014, 16:45

      @hunocsi maybe Fia can use Bernie’s idea of Track detours when the track is so wet or when the debris are in a large section

  8. Lewis was very slow at around lap 42 or 43 I think he responded to double yellows

    1. You are correct.

  9. I agree with Lewis, he perhaps wasn’t careful enough in the conditions, the time for debating this will come later, right now his health is the main concern. I do hope that he is okay, its never nice when a driver is involved in such a big accident. Reminds me of the Maria de Villota’s accident with another vehicle a few years back when she lost her eye in that accident, my prayers were with her on that day and today mine are with Jules. An extremely talented driver, hang in there Jules!

  10. I tend to agree with him – double yellow seemed sufficient at that time. Sutil’s car was just a few meters away from the exit and the truck had easy access.
    However a thorough investigation needs to happen and then start a discussion about SC procedures based on all facts.

    1. I’d say a double yellow was enough too, but it’s surprisiing they didn’t put the SC earlier given how keen they are to put it out most of the time.

    2. Knowing the result it was not enough, and taking into account the circnstancies (rain, por visibility, water/aquaplaning risk/previous accident…) not to use the safety car inmediately was A BIG MISTAKE.

      1. The virtue of hindsight.

  11. Good impression of what it was really like out there (admittedly in the lead of the race, so he could see where he was going, and the last thing he wanted was a safety car and Nico right up his chuff again!)

    1. Hamilton is consistently one of those drivers who is raring to race in the conditions. Doesn’t matter if he is in the lead or the middle of the pack.

  12. Hamilton was in a car with huge amounts of downforce.
    Sutil said that the slow cars at the back with much less downforce usually suffer sooner under such conditions.
    I don’t think it was a coincidence that we saw a Marussia and a Sauber going off there and not a Red Bull or a Mercedes.

    1. Guess the cars passed FIA’s safety tests. You can’t complain about this.

      Seems like a massive driver error worsened by conditions on the side track.
      Hope JB recovers fast!

    2. It is for the driver to judge his and his cars capability and drive accordingly, that is the point of racing.

  13. Lewis doesn’t need to say this right now no matter what question he was asked.

    1. Why not? Obviously everything is secondary to Bianchi recovering, but his commenting won’t make any difference there. But maybe it will make a difference to the poor people in race control who no doubt are in agony right now wondering if they could have prevented it.

      1. Ya, let’s please the race control people by blaming Jules. Jules’ family and friends will just have to live with it.

        1. How are we supposed to know that this isn’t Jules’s fault? No one else went skittling off in to the run off bar him and Sutil. Double waved yellows were out and no one else around the circuit went off so it could be any number of factors. Please refrain from putting the blame on Race Control when no one knows the facts. There will be an investigation I’m sure, but the well being of Jules comes above this.

          1. I did not assign the blame to anyone, read above. My point was there was no need for anyone to assign blame to anyone at the moment until we get better news hopefully. Lewis should know this and not make such statements at this point. How do you think Jules’ family feels when see high profile people blaming him already? If Lewis (and you guys) want to crucify Jules at least wait until his family is in a better place.
            Or don’t.

          2. I am not crucifying Jules, if you read my other posts, you will see that no blame should be apportioned until the situation regarding his health is cleared up. Lewis did not pin the blame on Jules either, he merely suggested that it was standard protocol and that the situation was nothing out of the ordinary. I don’t know if you noticed how careful he was going round that section of the track during the double waved yellows, but he was abiding to the rules, others may not have as I noticed a Caterham steaming round him through that section. I, like you hope that there is better news to come, and that there should be no blame pinned on anyone until the facts have all been established.

        2. Stop being hyper-sensitive for no reason. Even if it turns out Jules was at fault (I doubt so), his family won’t have to live with anything. Accidents happen. We just have to learn to accept and move on. No point sugar coating what has already happened.

        3. Show me where he blamed Jules. And of course it’s not about “pleasing” the race control people, but you can have compassion for them along with everyone else in this situation. With hindsight, obviously the crash could have been prevented, but that doesn’t make it their fault per se.

        4. Besides, how do we know how his family will feel? Conceivably, it could be much worse to hear “there absolutely should have been a safety car and this would never have happened”. That might be more difficult to deal with than viewing it as a terrible accident that could not have been reasonably foreseen. Of course, apportioning responsibility and learning lessons does ultimately need to wait until all the facts are known.

        5. Disgusting is making judgements based on sentiment rather than facts.

      2. That was exactly my thought when i read his comments, hes only tryin to defend the actions of Race Control, who will know doubt be feeling very bad about this, by stating its standard practice to have a double waved yellow in this situation.

      3. Because its lacking in decorum.

    2. Hamilton wasn’t placing the blame on Bianchi, clearly he had no idea what had happened. He was explaining why the protocol seemed to have been followed and what drivers are expected to do. The fact you want to turn this incident into yet another reason to attack Hamilton says everything about you, not him.

  14. Hamilton should not be commenting on this issue right now. When so much is uncertain, ‘no comment’ is the only appropriate answer.

    1. On hearing the interview I didn’t think Hamilton explicitly said that a safety car wasn’t needed for the Sutil crash.

      I think the first question asked was whether he was surprised / concerned that a tractor was recovering the car to which he responded that it was normal practice and not unusual for a car to be recovered in this way under double yellows. His other comments were about the general conditions where he felt that it wasn’t so wet that it needed a safety car, not about the accident itself. This isn’t the same as saying that he thought it was the right call to not bring out the safety car to clear the Sutil accident.

      1. You’re Absolutely right!

        The way @keithcollantine posted this article here, without all the context and all conversation between Lewis and his interviewer, suggests he is slightly blaming Bianchi.

        This is really NOT the case.

        This is poor and opportunistic journalism!

        1. suggests he is slightly blaming Bianchi

          I haven’t done anything of the sort.

          The headline is a paraphrasing of Hamilton’s comments and that is entirely obvious – if it was a direct quote it would be in quotation marks.

    2. Agreed- None of the drivers should be making any comment at this stage until Jules condition is updated and we all know what is going on. I was glad the drivers chose not to spray the campaign on the podium but thought Mansell was quite rude interrupting Seb where all he wanted to do was pass on his concerns & thoughts for his fellow driver.

      1. And perhaps no-one should be commenting here. “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”

    3. You are entitled to your option. I am sure he is not the only one giving his opinion. The same way as you say he shouldn’t commented at this point I am sure fans would have complained if no one would comment.

      The important thing is that Jules gets out of this one. And commenting now or later will make no change the facts.

      1. Apologies for the inconsistency with my sentence structure.

    4. I would rather hear a drivers honest opinion, whether I agree with it or not, than to hear a “no comment”. “No comment” is for lames with no brain in their head. And again, this is F1’s usual tact under safety car period, they didn’t do anything out of the norm. It’s racing, accidents happen. We’ve seen accidents/spin outs occur behind the safety car in the dry!! You can’t account for every eventuality, but F1 does a good job with safety overall.

  15. I don’t know if Hamilton is defending the none use of the safety car or just stating that they are used to race direction handling such situations in a similar way.

  16. Come on people, get a grip. There is no harm at all in Hamilton answering a valid question. It’s far too early in the day to “get offended”. Try later when you’ve had Sunday lunch and a quick nap.

    1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
      5th October 2014, 14:01


  17. Lewis may be right but he should not answer questions on the matter just yet.

  18. I’m sorry but this is pure click-bait headline. Lewis didn’t say that but the kneejerkers on here will not or never see it that way.

    1. This website is starting to annoy me with some of the headlines it comes out with which portray an inaccurate and often negative message on the overall article.

      Then there is the annoying pop up adverts…

      1. Not to mention the site owner thinking he knows much more stuff than fellow ordinary fans. He was telling us emphatically in one article that Vettel does not get preferential treatment over Webber. And he did not reply to my question how is he so adamant as though he had worked at Red Bull before and knew the entire inner going-ons down there.

    2. Yep. As much as I like this website , This headline is just inaccurately glaring . Hamilton never said ” safety car not required” .All he said is just as you put it in the article
      |Hamilton, who won the race, said it was not unusual for the Safety Car not to be used in such circumstances.|
      The article is nice, but people often look only at the headline which is suppose to give an account of the article. I hope this doesn’t happen in the future especially at such times.

      1. @ Hamilfan. I am sorry, but Hamilton did essentially say just that. The headline conveys the essence of the piece in a minimalistic fashion. It’s called Précis. Why has everyone got their pedantic underwear on today?

  19. martyn Peacock
    5th October 2014, 12:22

    With the air evacuation not being able, i’m surprised that the race was allowed to continue, it was one of Sid Watkins major points in that races would not being able to start with that facility

    1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      5th October 2014, 17:38

      Apparently the chopper was able to fly but the doctors chose to transport him by road, something to do with altitude pressure and head injuries.

  20. I absolutely, categorically disagree with Hamilton. It’s easy to judge with hindsight, but I believe – and have believed for many years – that there should be a blanket rule. If there is anything on or near the track that isn’t an F1 car – be that a recovery vehicle or a marshal – the safety car should be out.

    We saw in one race earlier this year (Germany, I think) where a stranded car (Sutil again, IIRC?) was met by a group of marshals who ran across the track without the cover of a safety car. I said at the time that it was stupid and dangerous, and sadly an incident like this one was bound to happen eventually.

    I sincerely hope that Jules Bianchi makes a full and swift recovery, and I am not someone prone to knee-jerk reactions. But this incident was entirely preventable and those who decided not to deploy the safety car in these circumstances should be held responsible.

    1. @red-andy I agree they have to do something differently, but I think if we counted up all the car recoveries we’d end up with an unworkably large number of safety cars.

      An SC takes time to slow the cars down too.

      1. There are cranes in many places at tracks all over the world, there isn’t one at Dunlop because there’s no space to put one there. The proportion of car recoveries that involve the use of a tractor or similar must be fairly low.

        The “delta time” rules that apply as soon as the safety car is deployed should be sufficient to slow the cars even if the safety car itself isn’t physically leading the pack. There is no such rule under double waved yellows, and penalties for ignoring yellow flags only ever seem to be applied if a driver sets a “green” time in a sector where yellow flags are being shown. That’s why I don’t believe double waved yellows are ever sufficient when there are recovery vehicles trackside, which I suppose would be my response to @beneboy below too.

        1. “A double yellow, consisting of two flagmen waving yellow flags (or one waving two flags) at the same post, indicates great danger ahead. Drivers must slow down and be prepared to stop; no overtaking is permitted.”

          I’m of the opinion that double yellows, properly obeyed, are sufficient to mitigate the risk of a vehicle on the track.

          Whether they are properly obeyed (I’m not pointing the finger at Jules here, but all the drivers generally) and properly enforced is open to debate.

    2. I disagree, the rules relating to double waved yellow flags very clearly state that you should slow down and be prepared to stop due to people and vehicles being on or near the track.
      A driver should therefore be going no faster under double waved yellow flags than they’d be going behing the safety car.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        5th October 2014, 17:52


    3. (@red-andy) I agree 100%. In ANY high-risk industry (medicine, aviation, racing), careful research shows that the only safety rules that are effective are what you refer to as “blanket” rules (otherwise known as mandatory emergency procedures, checklists, etc). This is because they remove all human judgment (which is remarkably error-prone regardless of expertise and experience of participants) once certain situational factors arise, and instead replace “judgment” with specific sequences of actions that have been thoroughly vetted as best practices in that situation. We will never get to zero fatalities in any high-risk endeavour, but the only way to get as close to zero as possible is with strict policies that are triggered by situation and not decision. The absolutely most dangerous situation for a racing driver in an open-cockpit car is a utility vehicle of any kind where he can contact it. They have elevated protuberances, are rigidly built, and absorb no crash energy, so all energy is transferred to the race car and driver. And it doesn’t matter how unlikely it may be, history has shown us that years or even decades may pass, but the unlikely eventually happens. The instant a utility or medical vehicle is on the circuit, dry or wet, the safety car MUST be out, no question, full stop. All other protocols (yellow flags) require human judgment and are thus prone to error. Without “blanket” rules, one’s safety protocol is indefensible on safety grounds, and you have not maximized your safety protocol.

    4. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      5th October 2014, 17:43

      (In theory) Red flags and safety car periods are no stronger an instruction to slow down and provide no greater protection than double waved yellows. A safety car period is essentially double waved yellows applied around the whole of the circuit and a red flag merely an instruction to stop at the startline/grid area at the end of the current lap and not to enter the pitlane.

    5. Switzerland banned motor racing on the grounds it is dangerous, they still have fatal car crashes though. The “No degree of risk is acceptable” argument would have seen F1 end with Senna. The drivers must accept some responsibility, especially when under caution. LH was right.

  21. whatever Hamilton said, or anyone else at this moment, we should all stop acting like sports fans – supporting or discrediting our favourite or non-favourite drivers for there comments on the situation. we should act like human beings and hope for a quick recovery of a great driver. I have feelings similar to Dan Wheldon, Robert Kubica, Felipe Massa of past few years.
    Nick Heidfeld just posted on twitter, that Bianchi is undergoing brain surgery, and that Jules father says he is in critical condition

    1. sorry head surgery, hopefully only skull not brain.

    2. Sports fans are not equal to human beings?

  22. The conditions may have been ok for Hamilton, especially as he is a very good wet weather driver, in an even better car. Bianchi is not as experienced and his car is not even in the same league as the Mercedes. F1 and the FIA are constantly bringing in new rules for ‘safety’ in the cars and some might say it has hurt F1, but not to think about a JCB out in terrible conditions, in a place where someone else has already spun out?! Rediculous.
    In 2007 at the Nurburgring an almost identical incident almost happened and maybe they should’ve thought about this. HUGE down pour on the first lap, half the field went off at turn 1 (including Hamilton) and Luizzi aquaplaned almost hitting the waiting safety car and even bumping the JCB in the gravel trap.

  23. I just watch replay of the race , On lap 43 the tv coverage shows the scene of the accident ,the marshall up in the box, has had two cars below him crash one serious and he is still waving a green flag . On lap 45 the coverage shows he eventully starts waving the yellow and showing the safety car board . i making no other point then surely if a car crashes right in front of your marshalling area you would get out the yellow but two cars !

    1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      5th October 2014, 17:50

      That was absolutely correct procedure, the incidents occurred before that marshalling post’s position on the circuit (i.e. earlier in the lap).

  24. I saw the interview with Hamilton, your headline is misleading and you’ve taken the quotes completely out of context purely to match your headline, shame on you F1 fanatic is there really a need to undermine Hamilton’s achievement today…

    1. How on earth did the story “undermine Hamilton’s achievements today?”
      Are we on the same page? If not, can you point me to the correct one?

    2. i agree,but keith often puts misleading headlines above hamilton stories,to try and give them a negative twist,just to make ppl click on the story.all lewis basically said was what happened was normal procedure,but the headline makes it seem like lewis was having a dig at jules.i hope jules makes a full recovery.

      1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
        6th October 2014, 0:04

        That’s all it’s for, to get more hits. Almost all news/sports website do it.

        It’s unfortunate, because it doesn’t accurately describe what actually happened, but it’s purely for getting more hits.

  25. “That’s what they do all the time,” he told reporters at Suzuka. “That’s normal protocol just to get cars off the track for safety.”

    I think that’s what people are disagreeing with though, that shouldn’t be standard procedure. As fans we don’t want to see drivers getting hurt, and I think that unless the car only pulled off due to a fault and can easily be pushed behind the barriers then the Safety Car should be brought out. Anything more than a simple push from the marshals and it should be a SC situation in my opinion.

  26. What this article title should say is “No Safety car for Sutil’s crash normal procedure” – Hamilton

  27. Remember that the lap time is only some 90 secs. Even if Race Control had sent out the Safety car the instant Sutil crashed and the cars had formed a neat line behind it, Bianchi’s accident would have already happened. The Safety car could have had not part in whether the accident happened or not.

    The crane driver was in position to move Sutil’s car within a couple of minutes – ordinarily a laudable action. In this case, the quick response put the crane into a tragedy.

    Accidents happen.

    1. great point

  28. Knowing the final result is really stupid (sorry for using that adjective) to say that.

  29. Its click bait.

    You ask Riccardo if he thought protocol was followed no one bats an eyelid. You ask Lewis and everyone’s got an opinion on what he said.

    Im more disappointed the story is headlined rather unfairly but that’s what Lewis gets, he gets column inches and he gets some amount of hatred.

  30. It is a terrible shame we are debating this accident, I wish Jules all the best for a speedy recovery. I was looking forward to debating Alonso and Vettel’s moves with you lot on this forum after all the Saturday stuff. An accident like this really casts a dark shadow on things.

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