Cranes on track during F1 races “cannot happen anymore”, say team bosses

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Formula 1 team bosses have backed their drivers over calls to ensure recovery vehicles are not sent onto tracks during races.

Several drivers sharply criticised the decision to send vehicles including a crane onto the track during a Safety Car period at the start of yesterday’s Japanese Grand Prix. The FIA has said it will review the decision but noted “it is normal practice to recover cars under Safety Car and red flag conditions.”

However McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl, whose driver Lando Norris took to social media while yesterday’s race was suspended to criticise the use of the recovery vehicles, said the practice needs to stop.

“It’s obviously clear that something like this simply must not happen,” said Seidl. “At the same thing it’s important to discuss this with the FIA together with the drivers as well in a constructive way and then wait for analysis and make sure it doesn’t happen any more.”

Norris was one of several drivers who compared the incident to crash which claimed the life of Jules Bianchi in 2014, when he spun and hit a crane which was parked in a run-off area.

Speaking before the FIA confirmed a review will take place, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said the incident “needs a full investigation into it because obviously after the tragedy of Jules Bianchi, something like that you never want to see again.”

“So I’m sure the FIA will do a full investigation,” he added. “But safety vehicles like that should never be on the track when there’s cars running around.”

Bianchi was backed by Ferrari, whose team principal Mattia Binotto also criticised the presence of the recovery vehicles during yesterday’s race.

“Certainly having a crane on track while the car running, we said that’s very dangerous which should not happen,” he explained. “So overall I think it has been a bad situation, again it needs to be addressed and cannot happen anymore.”

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    Keith Collantine
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    27 comments on “Cranes on track during F1 races “cannot happen anymore”, say team bosses”

    1. I don’t think it is necessary to always red flag a race where a recovery vehicle is required on track, but the Safety Car should always be deployed, and race control should wait until the field is bunched up behind the Safety Car before sending a recovery vehicle out. The Safety Car just needs to drive slowly enough to pick the whole field up quickly, rather than circulating for several laps waiting for the cars to catch up as currently happens.

      The “delta” system for Safety Car periods has been problematic ever since it was introduced, and we saw that yesterday, with cars speeding past the accident zone despite being within their delta times.

      1. Totally agree, @red-andy.
        Delta times are essentially giving the competitors motivation to drive unsafely at a point during the event when they should be at their safest and most cautious of people/vehicles on the track.

        Nevertheless – yellow and red flags take precedence over any delta times and must never be disobeyed.
        I’m looking at you too, FIA – enforce your own rules properly and the competitors will finally have some respect for your authority, and for the safety of the people who make the event possible.

      2. @red-andy Since 2015, SC has always been deployed when a recovery vehicle has gone to a runoff area or track.
        The difference is that Gasly was separated from the rest after his early pit stop & race control didn’t bother waiting until he was past Sainz’s car before giving the OK message to marshals.

      3. I think we need to clarify the difference between “Safety Vehicle on track” (ie: on the tarmac), and “Safety Vehicle on circuit” (ie: on grass / gravel / escape road).
        Two very different things that should be possible to deal with appropriately, especially in good dry conditions (maybe not so in wet conditions like yesterday, but weather should be factored in).
        I also think F1 lacks severely behind other series in giving information to drivers. We frequently hear the race director in Indy Car and FE talking to all drivers, informing them of a stopped car in a particular location.
        Given information, drivers can better self regulate. Given numbers on a dash board, you’re too busy playing a game to lose minimal time at the expense of concentration and awareness.

        1. The teams don’t want the FIA to have direct radio access to the drives in the cars, though.
          Not only do they not get to manipulate that information or the handling of that information to their advantage, they also argue that the driver may miss ‘vital’ team/car/strategy/whatever information being given to them at that moment.

          Basically every other major series has Race Control giving important information and instructions directly to drivers in the cars, but F1 consistently refuses.

          As for your first part – I don’t think it’s necessary. Vehicles or personnel anywhere near the track (within the barriers) should be treated with extreme caution and maximum respect regardless.

          1. You would get the advantage of Race Control knowing exactly when the message was given though.

            Can’t think of any specific examples (Lewis at Monza in 2020 maybe) but I’m sure there have been incidents where dispensation was made because the team didn’t have time to tell the driver of something before they got to the incident on track. That problem would go away if Race Control get to talk directly to drivers when they need to as safety instructions should always trump strategy decisions by the teams.

    2. Yes I don’t get why the safety car can’t just stay at a side out of the track and enter when the leader is approaching instead of doing a lot of laps to chase the leader (like in Monza when It took three laps to be in front of the leader)

    3. Overreaction time, as usual.
      If Gasly had been driving at a speed suitable for the conditions (including the yellow flag conditions in that zone) this wouls have been exactly as eventful as Ricciardo’s retirement at Monza this year.
      Nobody sped past the recovery vehicle, there were no safety concerns, everything was fine.
      And, perhaps ironically, everyone complained about how long it took then….

      1. Absolutely

        What needs to be addressed is not having vehicles on the track but using a more sensible approach when visibility is an issue. Yesterday was one of those cases where the crane should have been held off until they threw the red and cleared the track but as usual the race director was slow in throwing the red in a situation that pretty clearly required one.

        Gasly also should have been a lot more cautious and his team should have been telling him there was a crane ahead on track well before he got there. By the time he’d got there it was way too late for him to stop or slow dow.

        I’m wondering also why recovery vehicles aren’t fitted with very bright flashing lights – if it was then from what I could see it wasn’t very bright.

        All in all, a bad situation, made worse by a lack of common sense really, something that doesn’t seem to exist within F1.

      2. Is a safety car equivalent to double waved yellow as a minimum? Gasly knew where the recovery was but decided to blast past the next round at 200km/h. Bit idiotic, endangering Marshalls aswell, why would he not have a chance to crash in exactly the same way..

        FIA to correct things and bend over backwards, Gasly to be penalized.

        1. Simply said, Gasly was only concerned for his own safety it seems, not the Marshalls.

          1. Yep, exactly.
            And then he got all indignant out of fear, immediately blaming others for his own poor choice. The sad irony is that he did exactly what Bianchi did all those years ago.
            At least he acknowledged his own mistake later on when he calmed down.

            To answer your question – A Safety Car is essentially full-circuit single yellow.
            Which is exactly why they additionally display double-waved yellows in zones of increased risk (such as this one) in addition to the SC boards and single yellows all around the circuit.
            It clearly shows that drivers need to be extremely careful in that sector, and be prepared to stop or take evasive action.

            1. You’ve missed that Gasly had around 2 seconds between the red flag being waved and coming across the tractor. Combined with his speed being within the safety car delta prior to the red flag, of course he’s going to attempt to catch up with the field so that had they pitted for wets, he might have gained positions if the race had continued and there wasn’t anything illegal happening up to that point. What else would you expect him to do, drive very slowly in poor conditions which itself could be dangerous?

              How Gasly drove up to the red flag was within the rules and asking anyone to hammer the brakes in conditions like that isn’t sensible. If the FIA don’t like it then they need to change the speed deltas under the safety car.

              Gasly’s only mistake was to speed under the reg flag after clearing the tractor – and while that might be correctly called a penalty, it’s one of the most obvious cases of gaslighting I’ve seen in the sport (and it’s worse than what transpired in Abu Dhabi last year, which itself counts as a pretty good example of the FIA gaslighting someone despite obvious failings on its part).

            2. You’ve missed that Gasly had around 2 seconds between the red flag being waved and coming across the tractor.

              I ‘missed it’ (intentionally ignored it) because it’s irrelevant. He knew there was an incident there, and he also knew there would be people there when he came around again, even if there was no machinery. Knowing that, he’d also know there would be double-yellows – and knows what that means….

              What else would you expect him to do, drive very slowly in poor conditions which itself could be dangerous?

              Yes, I would expect him to drive slowly through that zone, because the rules (plus basic decency and common sense) require him to. Driving slower is not dangerous. Who told you it was?

              How Gasly drove up to the red flag was within the rules

              I think you should read the rules.

              If the FIA don’t like it then they need to change the speed deltas under the safety car.

              The delta times aren’t relevant or applicable when there are caution flags being shown on track. Double yellows and red flags always take precedence.

              Really, @skydiverian, head over to the FIA’s website and download the F1 Sporting Regulations and the International Sporting Code. Inform yourself before you let your emotions override your sensibilities.

    4. Andy (@andyfromsandy)
      10th October 2022, 8:52

      Whenever there is a safety car it always seems to take an age to clear the track. It looks like it will take even longer now.

      It looked safe when the SC went past the scene driving as far to the right as possible and all the cars following.

    5. F1 needs to looks at more effective way to remove cars from the circuit. Monaco has nine cranes around the circuit and cars are traditionally removed very quickly. Apart from that this year I recall seeing cranes only in Zandvoort. There used to be some in Montreal (at least in final chicane and the place where Vettel/Hamilton incident happened in 2019)

      This applies especially on street and urban (I can’t think Jeddah as a street circuit really because there are no junctions or road markings there) circuits. Apart from cranes I recall sometimes Monaco marshal putting sledges under the car which makes it easy to push car away. Those kind of things should be mandatory in each marshal post. And several circuits should add cranes so cars can be lifted away more quickly.

      1. @bleu I wholly agree with you.

      2. I have been wondering the same for years. If it can be done in Monaco, it can be done anywhere. After Jules Bianci’s death I thought FIA would get some brains and mandate cranes but NOOOO, it would have been too logical. Instead lets make up some more, complicated, un-enforcable, un-clear, rules.

        1. They’ve still got to send people out to attach the car to the crane, and repair the barriers, and remove debris, etc…..

    6. “But safety vehicles like that should never be on the track when there’s cars running around.”

      It does seem that we will soon have a red flag every time a car needs to be recovered. Too many voices calling for that for the FIA to ignore.

      That will have implications and the rules need to be adapted. First of all, the question must be answered, if it is important to have full races. If yes, we need to extend the race time to factor in multiple red flag periods. Races then should also start a few hours earlier, as each red flag period will extend race time for at least half an hour.

      I keep thinking about IndyCar, where recovery vehicles immediately enter the track when a crash occurs, even at high speed circuits like Indianapolis.

    7. A lengthy red flag or two, maybe three, every race. Followed by a standing start. That’s what we want?

      Yeah, let’s not go overboard here. Sure, the poor conditions yesterday meant they probably should have waited a bit longer for the crane to get put out on track. But that’s about all that needs to change here. Gasly’s reaction is understandable, but his speeding was not so a deserved penalty for him, hope he learns from it after he’s calmed down a bit.

    8. Jelle van der Meer (@)
      10th October 2022, 10:49

      Cranes and vehicles on track should be possible but NOT in rainy & poor visibility conditions. Are we going to red flag the race each time a vehicle needs a recovery vehicle. If that is the future the tracks should put much more cranes like in Monaco around the track to be able to remove stranded cars more easily and faster in must more places.

      In my view, for dry & full visibility situations only, recovery vehicles should be allowed while the (virtual) safety car must be active, all drivers warned (via their dashboard) of vehicle on track (which turn and left/right) and while on track maximum speed for that section must be further reduced. Odd that Gasly was doing 200km/h yet being 9 seconds slower than allowed delta time in wet and poor visibility conditions.

      In case there will be more red flags and more (V)SC they also look to reduce the impact to the competitive order and avoid teams taking gambles like Haas did with Mick.
      In case of red flags no tyre changes should be allowed unless mandated by FIA, no repairs allowed or only on safety grounds with a 5 or 10 place drop in the order. Automatic 5 second extra wait time if pitting on (V)SC to avoid pure luck advantages.

    9. Nothing wrong with having a recovery vehicle on track simultaneously with racing cars as long as this happens under SC neutralization (as has been the norm since 2015).
      Race control only needs to wait until everyone has passed an accident scene before giving informing the marshal post that the recovery vehicle going out is okay, which they otherwise always do except for yesterday.
      Related to the last three posts, red-flagging for recovery’s sake would be overkill, so this shouldn’t be the resort, especially in dry conditions like most recently in Monza.

      1. I forgot to remove ‘giving.’


      fan based suzuka images about the tractor.

      1. The tweet has been deleted. Can you explain what it was showing?

    11. Given Gasly’s propensity to complain about the actions of others, it is going to be an entertaining 2023 season when he teams up with Ocon. This is gonna be fun.

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