Virtual Safety Car board, Circuit of the Americas, 2014

“Impossible” for Bianchi crash to happen again

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Virtual Safety Car board, Circuit of the Americas, 2014In the round-up: Felipe Massa says F1’s new Virtual Safety Car means the accident which killed Jules Bianchi could not happen again.


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F1 drivers more united on safety since Bianchi crash (Motorsport)

"After the race that killed Bianchi in Suzuka, some things have changed, such as the Virtual Safety Car. It is a good idea: as an accident the same as his would be impossible to happen today."

'No way' Magnussen won't race in 2016 (Autosport)

"Although his hopes of an IndyCar seat fell through for this year, Magnussen says he will 'definitely' do IndyCar at some point in the future."

Marko: Red Bull engine options still open for 2017 (Adam Cooper's F1 Blog)

"If I’m on the board of a big car manufacturer, I want to see, ‘Where is F1 going, what are the rules, is there stability?’. There are too many question marks, I would say."

Honda confident in Spa upgrade reliability (F1i)

"We have confidence about the reliability so we are stepping up the power side. Spa, Monza and the next few races are more power circuits."

Horner: Teams dismissed independent advisor idea (Crash)

"Unfortunately the teams and the governing body did like it so it didn't go any further."

Rossi not pinning F1 hopes on Haas (ESPN)

"Any opportunity that comes my way that allows me that opportunity is one that I'll welcome with open arms."

Honda Ignition (Honda via YouTube)

This new Honda advert features the voice of Ayrton Senna.

Hilarious! F1 slapstick with Johnny Herbert (from 1998) - Sauber F1 Team (Sauber via YouTube)


Comment of the day

Monza, 2014When it comes to protecting classic F1 events are we talking about countries or circuits?

Gastaldi makes a good point that it’s the tracks that matter, not their locations.

One thing that everyone seems to miss when lamenting the loss of the German and French Grand Prix is that the new Nurburgring, new Hockenheim and (especially) Magny-Cours aren’t special enough to be guaranteed a place on the calendar. Montreal, Spa and Monza on the other hand…

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  • 50 comments on ““Impossible” for Bianchi crash to happen again”

    1. Was I the only one that thought that the Honda marketing guys had hit the nail on the head? Come lift off, the McLaren Honda’s go up in a cloud of smoke? :P

      1. Lots of smoke and … not actually moving very fast (or at all, in this case).

        1. They are moving the world ;)

    2. I would wager the odds of that happening again regardless of the VSC were statistically improbable to begin with. A freak accident, yeah, Biachi’s car a few feet either way (how about the crane operator?) and hes still probably here to tell about it. The problem isn’t about chance, it’s about responsibility. Also, a VSC won’t keep a car from hydroplaning off the track. Hit a few inches of water and you don’t even need to be going over 40 mph to slide.

      1. Well you could call it a freak accident, but there have been a number of moments that Keith has already coovered in F1F, that were near misses, mostly in the rain, where cars aquaplane off the road due to standing water or oil or a mixture of both. VSC does slow the cars down, but you can aquaplane at 60km/h or at 120km/h, it VSC doesn’t eliminate the risk, just reduces it.

        1. ColdFly F1 (@)
          15th August 2015, 8:32

          Actually VSC does nothing different than double waved yellow (for those sectors) – both slow the car down. And in both cases a driver can ignore (or not see) it!
          The only difference is that for VSC the reduced speed is better defined (a specific speed rather than be ‘prepared to stop’), and a link to the ‘infotainment’ system. @dragoll, @pcxmerc

        2. It was no freak accident. Everyone knew days in advance there was a typhoon coming. The race should have been moved or should not have even begun.

          1. Apex Assassin
            15th August 2015, 20:07

            Nonsense. The race NEEDS to go on, that same day. Change the start time if need be, but they NEED to race.

      2. Yep. It’s not long since Massa said the same as Tost – that they need to keep unmodified cranes away from the cars at any speed. VSC will help of course, but aquaplaning can still happen and we still see eager corner workers rushing to get the crane into action within seconds of a car landing in the wall.

        I’ve been so disappointed with FIA over Bianchi’s crash. Their priority wasn’t to make sure it can never happen again, it was not to be liable.

        1. ^ nail – head

        2. Exactly. The safety car should have been out in those conditions when a crane is on the circuit getting a stricken car off course.

          1. Quite often they wouldn’t need to expose the crane at all, if they just had a length of rope.

    3. @OllieJ makes a good point. Hockenheim hasn’t been the same since they took away the forest section, it’s an average circuit and not one I’d miss. Magny-Cours is possibly the worst top grade circuit in Europe, and I was happy to see it lose its GP. Nurburgring can produce decent races, it’s not what I’d call a classic circuit, but I wouldn’t want to lose it while there are much worse circuits hosting GP’s.
      In a way I don’t object to any country hosting a GP, as long as they’ve got a good circuit and lots of fans filling the grandstands then I’m happy to see them given an opportunity to host a race. I don’t want to lose Spa, Monza, Melbourne or Montreal, but I don’t want to lose COTA either, and wish we could go back to Turkey too.

      1. In my opinion the new Nurburgring is like the Hungaroring (no wonder – they’ve been built two years from each other): it has a nice flow, but by default it doesn’t produce good racing with overtaking options severely limited. (Note the ‘by default’ – it’s specifically there for the last two Hungarian GPs; both heavily aided by external circumstances.)

        The new Hockenheimring can produce a lot of side-by-side action, it can produce a great show, but it’s rather stop-start.

        And I agree with the COTD, that neither is ‘special’ enough in terms of character. They are blends of characters – the Nurburgring and the Hungaroring is full of medium-speed corners which in itself is a blend and the new Hockenheimring, while still stop-start, not so much as to have that as a dominant feature (like Montreal or the old Hockenheimring).

        Monza, Monaco and Silverstone, on the other hand, all has dominant features layout-wise – long flat-out sections, low-speed zig-zags with limited run-offs and a dominant number of high-speed corners, respectively. Also notice that we are not talking about history here, this is purely about how a circuit should shape up.

      2. Oh Turkey… Call me crazy but I believe that circuit is the best gp track in the world.

      3. I wish we could go back to Turkey too.

      4. Apex Assassin
        15th August 2015, 20:09


        Now we need Sochi, Singapore, and Mexico off the calendar.

      5. Thanks for the COTD @keithcollantine !
        @beneboy you’ve summed up those three tracks perfectly. Of the current tracks, I would ‘protect’ Spa, Monza, Interlagos, Suzuka and Montreal. Probably Silverstone too, though I’m never sure how much its classic status is influenced by the sheer number of British fans – I remember reading that everyone though Brands Hatch was better when they shared the race.
        I think it would also be a shame to lose Sepang, Marina Bay and COTA, though whether it would be viable to protect that many circuits (e.g. by waiving race-hosting fees) is another question.

    4. Monica is brilliant!

      1. Haha unbelievable!

    5. That photo features more than James Hunt.
      Sir Frank Williams is running in the background!

      1. I agree, that’s what makes the photo so special for me. And check out the quads on the dude: he brought some heavy artillery to bear back in the day!

    6. You should also put the video of Alonso and Button going on an adventure in time with McLaren…

    7. “an accident the same as his would be impossible to happen today.”

      Really?! Since October 5th of last year I’ve seen a dozen of tractors on motorsport circuits and roads. Each time I thought about a repeat of that accident, each time I thought about Jules.

      One thing that everyone seems to miss when lamenting the loss of the German and French Grand Prix is that the new Nurburgring, new Hockenheim and (especially) Magny-Cours aren’t special enough to be guaranteed a place on the calendar.

      It’s not like Sakhir, Sochi, Yas Marina or even Budapest are ‘special enough to be guaranteed a place on the calendar’.
      Money runs the circus: e.g. Azerbaijan’s Baku “European GP” circuit.

      1. Under VSC, speed will be much lower. SO, of course “an accident the same as his would be impossible to happen today” if every party(FIA, drivers, marshals) does their job properly

      2. There’s another factor. VSC can only prevent an accident if it is used.

        A 3-4 lap Safety Car, with the safety crew waiting until the cars were collected, would have been a more reliable preventor of problems than a VSC. After all, it’s impossible to have a car crash into a rescue effort in progress if the car isn’t there when the safety crew is in the “hot zone”. Indeed, that was almost standard policy (minus the “collect cars before starting work” principle) at F1 tracks with inexperienced safety crews at the time of Jules’ accident. It is only because Suzuka had safety crews that had been working the track for decades and whose capabilities were well-known that it had latitiude to do otherwise. However, the many talents of the Suzuka safety crews do not include the ability to rewrite the laws of physics.

        The safety car option was emphatically available at Suzuka. It wasn’t used. Why? Because it was decided that other factors were more important* and the downside could be managed. You’d think Race Control had never heard of aquaplaning, or Finagle’s Law**… Such assumptions should have been broken forever on October 5th.

        Nothing in any of the FIA documents issued since last October indicate that anything has been done to mandate Virtual Safety Car use in any specific situation across all circuits. As far as I know, the race director still has discretion whether to use any sort of safety car or not, except in specific circumstances (such as new circuits with inexperienced safety crews). As such, the danger level is exactly the same as it was before. An unused Virtual Safety Car is as effective at accident prevention as an unused standard Safety Car, which is to say as useful as a chocolate tyre.

        The proposals presented in the FIA report on the Bianchi accident (of which Virtual Safety Car is one) may look like the FIA has prevented a repetition. I am sure the FIA genuinely believes it has prevented a repetition. But it hasn’t. And that scares me.

        * – Personally, I suspect it was because the race had about 15 minutes to go before timing out on the 4-hour rule, and that it was going to be too dark to race before that point, so a Safety Car would have effectively ended the race – and the sort of people who crew race control tend to be racers and want as many racing laps as possible. But the FIA report seemed to focus on “Why was there an accident?” rather than “Why did this specific one result in injuries?” or “Why are we having to write a public report on this accident in particular?” and therefore this question didn’t get answered convincingly, at least not on public record.

        ** – Finagle’s Law – anything that can go wrong will, and it will do so at the worst possible moment.

        1. Note I have nothing against Virtual Safety Cars, and that I think they are a useful tool to have in a race director’s toolbox. But tools do no good if they are simply treated as some sort of ornamentation…

        2. would a chocolate tyre not last longer than a pirelli??? got to be close!!!

          1. Hmmm… …at that, it may have a use after all…

    8. Sauber should remake that video with Felipe/Marcus & Monisha..xD

    9. @keithcollantine: Can you please create an F1 dream team poll for members of F1 fanatics?

      1. @malik I appreciate the suggestion but I find that sort of thing a bit redundant, to be honest. The idea that you could pluck an early-70s spec Jochen Rindt from his Lotus 49 with its manual gearbox and rudimentary aerodynamics, plant him in a 2015 car with it hybrid power train and designed-to-degrade tyres and he’d automatically be as good now as he was then. Or that the fertile mind of Colin Chapman could do any more with today’s ultra-restrictive regulations than Adrian Newey can.

        (There’s a funny line from an old episode of Sports Night about this but it doesn’t seem to be online anywhere.)

        1. @keithcollantine I always think Vettel 2014 is a good case in point. The shining 4 time world champion suddenly all over the place because something fundamental changed in his relationship with the car (sure, possibly also with the team)?

    10. I find it very interesting everyone at Red Bull chooses Vettel as one of their drivers for the dream team. Along with FW14B.

    11. I hate to sound superstitious but saying things like “impossible to happen again” makes me nervous, it’s a bit of a fate tempter. Isn’t it enough to say all that can reasonably have been done to mitigate the biggest risks has been done?

      1. I know, that headline immediately made me think of the “Unsinkable” claims made of the Titanic!

    12. Call me cynical but I can’t help feeling that Charlie W is under instructions to order the real safety car out at the drop of a hat because it closes the field up. It’s as artificial as rain sprinklers but he can always argue for its use on safety grounds. Using the VSC alone must give Bernie a fit because it fails to spice up the show as much, despite doing the job. I’m surprised Bert Maylander doesn’t get more of a mention for driver of the weekend sometimes for the big part he plays in the race results.

      1. Since when? I was very surprised when we didn’t get one when they had marshals on the track recovering Sutil’s car at Hockenheim last year.

        1. Keith, I would say that, if anything, I think that the pressure on Whiting was to reduce the use of safety cars up until Bianchi’s accident.

          Before his accident, there were a lot of complaints in both the media and the general public that there was a tendency for safety cars to be deployed for what were considered to be relatively minor incidents, particularly in wet conditions, and that they were interfering with the race results as a result.
          As a consequence of this, I think that the race director may have been placed under pressure to reduce the use of safety cars to avoid the adverse criticism from the press and fans about races that they were being used too frequently, leading to an increased reliance on double waived yellows rather than a full safety car.

          After all, under most circumstances we would have expected to have seen a safety car deployed for incidents such as when Sutil spun during the German GP and ended up stuck parked across the breadth of most of the track, but in that instance the car was cleared under double waived yellows instead.

    13. What would qualify an F1 circuit to be a “classic”? Undoubtedly Monza, Silverstone and Spa all are, two out of three have pre-1950 history and Silverstone has been around since the dawn of the championship.

      Someone mentioned Montreal, but Circuit Gilles Villeneuve has been around only since 1978. If age is the main criteria I guess we’ll start considering Sepang a classic around 2025…

      1. I am sure we’ll consider Sepang a classic around 2025, and not only for the fact that it has a long history.

    14. For the reasons of short term greed and ego, F1 is slowly strangling the wonderful thing that it is. As is probably true for others on this board, F1 and Le Mans prototype racing have given spiritual meaning to my entire life journey. Because they show the rest of us what courageous, skilled, adventurous, and inventive humans can do when not shackled by the culturally imposed fears and negative self-talk that burden 90% of the rest of us from reaching our own potential. In 1972, as a youth in Bombay– a world away from the technological West– I was lucky enough to see Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans.” That movie opened the door to something I might not have come to on my own given my culture: that somehow, I wanted to do something like THAT. Andretti, Prost, Senna, Schumacher, et al, even Verstappen, continue to inspire me still, as a 50+ year old, to push myself to do what I worry I can’t.

      What the current principals have lost sight of is that F1 has grown to such a gargantuan scale financially because of what it is at its foundation coupled with really shrewd business practices. But success often blinds people to the fact that times change, and sustaining a business in a healthy state requires the principals periodically objectively examine what they are doing and realize that previously successful practices may be overdone or may need to be modified for long term success. Humans are human: they become wedded to the things that have worked for them and very few are able to completely reinvent themselves when the situation requires it.

      I’m afraid that success is blinding Bernie & Co. to the fact that F1 is a business only because it is first a passionate sport contested in local stadia, and their business practices are starting to strangle the foundations of the sport: its local promoters and fans. I believe Alianora La Canta’s comment to the same article highlights this potentially lethal structural problem and provides a commonsense approach to addressing it. It should at least be given equal billing to the COTD:

      Alianora La Canta (@alianora-la-canta) said on 15th August 2015, 11:24

      There is plenty enough space on the F1 calendar to host the classics and a selection of other quality tracks and some new challenges. 20 races is not a small number.

      There is something wrong with a pricing structure where a circuit’s income is strictly spectator-dependent and the expenditure is heavily biased against spectators. The tracks that can afford to pay the most tend to be the ones that least care about spectators because they are motivated by marketing and such. An individual track’s marketing is simplest if it spends lots of money on the marketing – which means little left over for spectators. Especially after Bernie’s demands on VIP facilities and the FIA’s demands on trackside furniture (plus profit-generating escalators in an attempt to compensate for falling TV audience) leave so little left in the wallet for circuits to make their races a good experience for the sort of people in a position to buy the (usually relatively expensive) tickets.

      F1 hasn’t been designed to be primarily funded by circuits since at least 1992, and possibly before that. The collapse of the TV audience and the concomitant difficulties in maintaining TV fees has exposed the flaws in the circuit funding model quite dramatically.

      A better policy would be to have a base rate (covering the costs of F1 turning up) and then a small extra fee per spectator, preferably separated by type (so that people using VIP facilities result in tracks paying a VIP premium, people in grandstands/terraces yield a “typical” fee and people in general admission, who get fewer facilities, pay a bit less). I think it could raise at least as much money as the current model and result in a better balance of circuits. The best races for F1 are not always the wealthiest, as demonstrated by the fact Monaco gets a fee waiver every year and is even allowed, uniquely, to sell its own trackside advertising to supplement its income.

    15. Like most f1 followers, I of course miss the French GP- although I don’t miss Magny-Cours. In addition to it being isolated, the circuit was poor compared to the 2 previous tracks used for the French GP (Ricard and Dijon). Why not just go back to Ricard, or someone should buy the Montlhery track near Paris and update the road course (west of the banking) to today’s standards?

      1. Or how about putting them on the full Circuit de la Sarthe?

        1. Not sure about that. That would make for an amazing spectacle indeed but the traditionalist in me says that circuit should only be for the LM24H. It’s a fantastic circuit; one of my personal favorites- but F1 doesn’t belong there.

          1. F1 needs to be on at least 1 circuit that is as long as La Sarthe; but not that circuit.

    16. It’s interesting about the Hungaroring. It always had the reputation of producing really dull races with no overtaking, say about 5 years ago. However, the last three or four races have been great. I have a friend who went there last year and says it was the best place he’s ever been for a race. What’s happened?

      1. You can almost see the full circuit at many places at Hungaroring. If you are gonna travel to see a race it is one of the best to see as a close spectator even when the race isn’t as exciting. Also it has a decent flow to it and pushes drivers with it’s non breather layout making them make mistakes easier.

    17. Yes but only time will tell.

      Unfortunately sooner or later a different kind of freak accident is bound to happen.

      We need to be one step ahead.

    Comments are closed.