Kevin Magnussen, Haas, Suzuka, 2022

FIA promises “thorough review” over recovery vehicles on track in Japanese GP

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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The FIA says it will conduct a “thorough review” after several drivers complained about the presence of recovery vehicles at the side of the track during a Safety Car period at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly, Sergio Perez, Nicholas Latifi and Sebastian Vettel alerted their teams to the presence of the vehicles. One was situated at the exit of the hairpin and another was positioned on the approach to Spoon curve shortly afterwards.

Several drivers voiced concerns over the presence of a crane in the wet conditions. Many of them drew comparisons with the events of the 2014 race, when Jules Bianchi spun and hit a crane, sustaining injuries which he later died from.

“We shouldn’t see these type of things,” said Charles Leclerc after the race. “Of course, something happened in 2014 and we all know that and I think we should all learn from it.”

The FIA stated “it is normal practice to recover cars under Safety Car and Red Flag conditions,” but said it has taken the concerns of drivers onboard.

“Due to the particular circumstances and also taking into account feedback from of a number of drivers, the FIA has launched a thorough review of the events involving the deployment of recovery vehicles during the Japanese Grand Prix,” it said. “This is part of the common practice of debrief and analysis of all race incidents to ensure continual improvements of processes and procedures.”

Drivers voiced similar concerns after qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix in 2020 when Q2 began despite the presence of a recovery truck in a run-off area. Michael Masi, the FIA F1 race director at the time, said it was “not a scenario we want to see” and they would “review our procedures to minimise the likelihood of similar incidents in future.”

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    34 comments on “FIA promises “thorough review” over recovery vehicles on track in Japanese GP”

    1. Gasly said that he was some 9 seconds positive to his delta time on the 2nd lap (the one he passed the tractor), yet he was wheelspinning out of the hairpin. This makes me wonder whether the delta time regulations base it on a dry lap time, with no compensation for wet conditions. Can anybody clarify this for me? If true, that’s an obviously dangerous shortfall needing fixing, as wet races are already dangerous enough.

      I’m worried this will up the red flag count in future, which might be more dangerous if they mostly run standing restarts. If so, it would be nice if they could speed up the red flag turnaround period.

      I thought the marshalls are only supposed to really get to work with clearing things up once the cars have formed up behind the safety car. But this practice seems inconsistently applied, so I’m not sure about that either. Seems like a good practice to have, unless there is a fear a driver is hurt and needs urgent attention, which would these days trigger a red flag anyway.

      1. @Alesici Being careful & patient with when to send out recovery vehicles is the only necessary change.

        1. Several people have been saying that Gasly was driving too fast leading up to the recovery vehicle, but if he’s correct about the 9 seconds positive delta, then in fact the regulations allow him to drive far faster. I think the only reason he wasn’t going 9 seconds faster was because he was already so close to the limit, as shown by his wheelspin out of the hairpin.

          Jere, if you know that there is no need to change anything, you must already know whether the delta time is adjusted to account for a wet track. Is it?

          1. Several people have been saying that Gasly was driving too fast leading up to the recovery vehicle, but if he’s correct about the 9 seconds positive delta, then in fact the regulations allow him to drive far faster.

            The delta times don’t override the yellow flags.
            However, opposite is true – yellow flags do take precedence over the delta times.

    2. How much time will pass until f1 will get sick of fia damaging the series?

      1. Formula 1 is an FIA property. Liberty just lease the rights to commercially exploit it.

    3. Coventry Climax
      9th October 2022, 13:21

      There’s a lot of things that could be improved in the handling of such situations.
      The FIA investigating it’s own stupidity is one of them.

      1. Yea cos the FIA is a hivemind made out of one person right? And not an organization with thousands of people and many groups all with their own responsibilities and area of expertise?

      2. The FIA investigating it’s own stupidity is one of them.

        Who else can?

    4. What happened today was no unusual. Recovery vehicles going out to recover vehicles under the safety car is standard practice in basically every category, It is one of the situations the safety car was introduced to deal with.

      After the Jules Bianchi accident at Suzuka in 2014 it was agreed that recovery vehicles been sent out under green flag conditions was not appropriate & the FIA, Teams and drivers all agreed that should a recovery vehicle be needed it would be handled under a safety car. Additionally the Virtual Safety Car was created as a direct result of that accident with the intention been to use it to recover cars or debris when it was deemed such a thing could be done quickly & that included the use of recovery vehicles.

      It’s not necessary or practical to call a red flag every time that a car crashes or stops and needs to be recovered and even after the Jules Bianchi accident in 2014 it wasn’t something anybody asked for as again everyone concerned (Including the drivers) felt covering such a scenario behind the SC or VSC was safe and appropriate. And again it’s the same in every other category with red flags only used if tracks are blocked, barriers damaged requiring a lengthy repair or more recently in some categories for show purposes with a few laps left to ensure a green flag finish.

      If all the cars were in the SC queue with it slowing down and directing cars to the full right side of the circuit then today there would be no concern as it would have been safe. The only point of concern today was that Pierre Gasly was not in the queue and was therefore able to pass the scene of the accident at much greater speed than the rest.

      Maybe in future they need to just not send any vehicles out to recover stopped cars until everyone is in the SC queue as the SC would then be able to reduce speeds through that sector of the circuit. There is certainly no need to be throwing red flags whenever a car stops and needs recovering.

      1. 100% agree

      2. The problem was that Gasly was able to drive so fast. Against the rules.

        As long as this continues the FIA will have no other choice than to red flag a race every time a car needs to be recovered. There is always a possibility that a car will not be in the safety car queue. Maybe some more hand-holding of drivers could be implemented – no leaving the safety car queue, no pitting under safety car, etc. – but seriously, some personal responsibility should be expected from F1 drivers.

        While I am happy with the FIA issuing a severe penalty for Gasly, I see no mitigating circumstances for endangering the lives of the marshals and would have liked to see a race ban.

        But I quite expect this to have been the last wet race, if it is not acceptable to put recovery vehicles on the track under safety car or red flag conditions.

      3. @gt-racer Well-put & COTD-worthy.
        Gasly being separate from others was the sole reason for the close call.
        The simple solution is that recovery vehicles get sent on track only once all drivers have passed a stranded car location.

        @uzsjgb – Gasly behavior wasn’t the real issue, so once again, red-flagging only if truly necessary & a mere car recovery doesn’t count as a justifiable reason unless considerable enough.

      4. @gt-racer I think the big problem is the protocol regarding recovering cars at Suzuka where rainy conditions and poor visibility is the norm needs to be overhauled massively.

        A more serious incident happened at Fuji raceway during the JGTC 1998 session that forced Japanese racetracks to take on more stricter safety precautions. Before the start of the race cars aquaplaned off the track with full fuel due to the pace car driving too fast(driver was in a 4wd Nissan Skyline R33 GT-R on road tyres ..) at the start of the race causing an horrific inferno.
        Tetsuya Ota Was knocked unconscious and his F355 is was in flames with no fire marshal and only saved from certain death because Shinichi Yamaji who was at the back of the pack in his GT300 class Mazda RX-7 witnessing the inferno heroically got out of his car and extinguished the fire.

        Tetsuya Ota suffered severe burns needing plastic surgery and other long term injuries causing him to retire from racing. He took track owner Toyota(was responsible for the comical lack of marshals and appropriate medical treatment at the track) and a tv broadcaster(forced the race to go ahead) to civil court and won and now Fuji raceway is one of the safest tracks on the planet due to this horrific event forcing the track owner Toyota to take corrective action.

        Suzuka track owner Honda needs to seriously think hard about overhauling the circuit layout that hasn’t changed much since that 1960’s with things like modernizing drainage, lighting(Bernie wanted Suzuka to be night race like Singapore but that did not go ahead due to the recession), earlier start times and increasing recovery roads for removing disabled vehicles. 200R where Carlos crashed due to the figure of eight layout that hasn’t changed much in almost 60 years means that recovery vehicles need to cross the track to recover vehicles..

        Poor weather conditions in mountainous Japan isn’t new but its sad to still be talking about the lack of safety precautions in 2022 especially when the last F1 driver to die racing was at this track..

      5. Gasly was acting like a spoiled pinhead the whole weekend. Partly, I’m sure, because he’s signed to Alpine. He seems honestly too stupid to be allowed to race.

      6. > recovery vehicles been sent out under green flag conditions
        double yellow flag

      7. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        10th October 2022, 13:42

        Great discussion! The SC should collect all drivers before any equipment comes out and Suzuka needs to update its safety measures. Perhaps add speed limits under sc to certain parts of the track to be on the safe side.

      8. After what happened to Jules Bianchi I honestly thought waiting for all the cars to be behind the safetycar was a prerequisite for the cranes to get out on track. I’m quite baffled it isn’t the case actually.

      9. I would add that Vettel and Latifi were also going at considerable speed @gt-racer, they were somewhat back because of having pitted too.

    5. Quick reminder people that tomorrow the FIA has another chance to look like amateurs!

    6. There shouldn’t really be a safety issue with recovery vehicles under the safety car even on a wet track or in rain. If the rain is too heavy (monsoon-ish) for cars to be sure of staying on track even under a SC, then it should be a red flag and any damaged car should be recovered after the rest have returned to the pit. The problem here was quite specific: Gasly driving too fast. These issues always involve a balance between the responsibilities of the race organisers and those of the drivers to look after their own safety and that of other people at the track. And the problem is that drivers often risk too much in these situations in order to remain competitive in the race.

      1. @david-br Gasly may have been driving relatively fast for the conditions & red-flag scenario.
        Still, the true issue was not waiting until everyone is past the accident location before sending the recovery vehicle on track, which isn’t rocket science.

        1. @jerejj I agree, I’m just saying dangerous incidents usually have multiple factors. In the Bianchi tragedy, Hamilton went through the same corner at much slower speed, while other drivers were still effectively racing under ‘double yellows.’ I’m not singling out blame or fault, only suggesting that these issues aren’t usually just down to ‘FIA’ being incompetent. The problem though is that incidents (near misses) like today’s sometimes result in over-correction. If cars can no longer be recovered by cranes under a SC, that will mean even larger periods of non-racing during races.

          1. @david-br
            It’s the FIA core job to make sure that such an unsafe situation cannot happen in the first place. Imagine if Gasly has slowed down but still aquaplaned and hit the track. In Bianchi’s accident, the main factor was that a SC could have been deployed straightaway after the Sutil incident. Since that part of the track was not driveable, the possibility of another car hitting the stationary Sutil was very likely and it happened before in F1.

            The Jules Bianchi incident was already in the making giving the way Charlie Whiting was running races. He was too arrogant to admit that the safety processes can be improved. In the German GP that year, Lewis Hamilton has slammed the race direction not to bring the SC when Sutil’s Sauber stalled in the middle of the straight.

            The marshals were working on Sutil’s car in a very dangerous section of the track with cars coming out of last corner at way over 250 kph. Hamilton said that the scene reminded him of Tom Pryce’s horrifying crash in the 1977 South African Grand Prix.

            The FIA appointed an “independent” commission composed by some former Ferrari employees who used to report to Jean Todt like Ross Brawn and Stefano Domenicali to investigate the cause of the crash and concluded that Bianchi was at fault whereas it was the FIA sheer incompetence the main factor in his death.

            1. Bianchi going way too fast is the sole reason is he the sole F1 driver to EVER be killed by a recovery vehicle.

            2. @tifoso1989 Was Whiting ‘arrogant’? Or did he just allow drivers too much leeway to adhere to his instructions, like making sure to reduce speed significantly under double yellows? I think the latter. Until car safety standards improved, drivers were simply much more cautious about risking themselves and others in risky situations (precisely because they were already taking much bigger risks even in normal racing conditions). Whiting maybe presumed too much responsibility on the part of drivers. That’s not to say the 2014 Japanese GP wasn’t mishandled. The fact is that when one car aquaplanes off at a corner after entering at too high a speed, there’s a huge probability of another car going off along the very same trajectory if they enter at the same speed. Which is what happened. So it could have been anticipated by race control – albeit within a short time span to react with, perhaps, multiple incidents being dealt with simultaneously.

        2. @jerejj

          Still, the true issue was not waiting until everyone is past the accident location before sending the recovery vehicle on track, which isn’t rocket science.

          You hit the nail on the head ! It’s also worth to mention that an entire race support room with all the data, track positions, camera angles… available has been built for the purpose of taking over some of the workload from the race direction. In this case what happened regardless of whether Gasly was driving too fast or not was a massive failure safety.

        3. Given the conditions, I don’t see the need for Gasly rushing to a very wet and slow safety car situation, KNOWING there was a hazard on track. Forget speeding on a red flag, it was too close to the incident to be a big taking point. But Gasly was going too fast for double yellows that were perfectly in place for him to go a lot slower. Racing to the back of a safety car train is a ridiculous move and the lax rules about the speed you can do need to be looked at. Especially in soaking wet conditions.

          I also didn’t see the need to get the car off the track so quickly either and certainly making sure all cars have caught up. Sainz was safely out and there was no need to be so quick, admirable as it was.

        4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
          9th October 2022, 17:18

          There has been incidents in the past where the SC passes the scene of the accident several times.

          It appears with this incident the conditions worsened and was then red flagged. Without the worsening conditions it leaves the question at what point is it deemed right for the breakdown truck to go out?

          I saw the SC go past the scene with Verstappen in tow. It does appear it was Gasly that was going too fast for double waved yellows that was the problem.

    7. It was shocking at first but when sky pundits (more importantly ex F1 racers)Herbert, Chandhok Plus Di Resta broke it down it was not as controversial as the twitter/reddit drama hype machine made out to be AND both driver and FIA are to blame.

      WHY on earth is Gasly driving at near full speed when he fully well knows there is no rush to drive to the back of the pack as it was a full SC and i assume he was made aware there was a crashed car at 200r and everyone knows there is zero room behind the barrier to remove a disabled car so a recovery vehicle needs to drive on track.
      So in retrospect Gasly was being ridiculously reckless with his speed when under SC conditions you have to be prepared to stop not drive blind at 200 Km/h.
      Maybe F1 should copy WEC and force strict speed limits under sc in select sectors to prevent drivers racing to the back of the pack. Also maybe AT should better communicate to their drivers about on track conditions and hazards.

      Why is Honda(who owns the circuit) still using the cr*ppy ancient OTT caterpillar tractors more suited to a quarry not lifting racecars with almost zero visible hazard lights? Honda built the circuit in the early 60’s and totally aware of poor racing conditions at times so why is there such disregard to the appropriate risk assessment?
      No doubt they follow all protocols with military precession at their factories so why such a casual attitude when it comes to racing?
      Komatsu has factory literally an hour up the road with more appropriate tools that are infinitely safer than using old quarry tier wheel loaders, just felt disturbing that they still use the same equipment from when Jules died 8 years ago..

      Also not many people point this out but it was not smart for Albon to park the car on track nearby to where Carlos went off with near zero visibility for over driver when he could’ve turned off onto the motorcycle chicane… it looked like he tried to rolling restart the car but he should’ve still tried to park the car in a safe position.

      Never mind the unnecessary delayed start, lack of extra lap when the clock ran out and the mental gymnastics FIA pulled to make Max WDC with full points for a sub 75% race this weekend was an all round farce.. no DOUBT Liberty media who wants to transform F1 post Bernie into WWE will love all of the extra engagement and clicks just like AD2021..

    8. They could have brought the tractor out once all cara were in the pits. It was red flag. 😑😑😑
      Although Gasly was driving way too fast, almost normal wet conditions racing speed really.

    9. Sad that even 50% of fans have become so risk averse, they’re actually “horrified” by the Gasly “incident,” which was solely the result of him driving dangerously fast and in general being one of F1’s dimmest people.

    10. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      10th October 2022, 15:45

      Out of curiosity, if Gasly didn’t go as fast as he could trying to reach the SC queue, wouldn’t it be possible that he could lose positions to drivers that pit and could end up ahead of him? After you pass the pit stops, that won’t happen but pre-pit stop, you should be driving at full speed, right?

      1. Are you seriously asking if Gasly should be given a free pass for breaking the rules and endangering lives just because he could potentially lose a position?


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