After the chequered flag in Japan and after crowning this year’s F1 World Champion, there was another story got a LOT of attention. Drivers up and down the grid were furious at the FIA for allowing a recovery vehicle on track under such wet conditions with poor visibility.
Pierre Gasly was very vocal and said he feared for his life after surprisingly encountering a recovery tractor on the circuit in the same location Carlos Sainz had crashed a lap earlier.
With many questioning why the vehicle was there, especially given that it was at the same Suzuka circuit in which Jules Bianchi suffered a crash that eventually prove fatal after he collided with a vehicle in 2014, the FIA said they’d be investigating the scenario.
“Even though it is common practice to deploy recovery vehicles once a race has been neutralised, the review panel discussed whether the entry of the recovery vehicle at Suzuka to retrieve the stricken Ferrari of Carlos Sainz was premature given the prevailing conditions,” the FIA statement read.
“The review panel acknowledged that having recovery cranes on track at Suzuka during the weather conditions is a sensitive matter in view of the tragic incidents of the past. The panel determined that in hindsight, as the weather conditions were changing, it would have been prudent to have delayed the deployment of the recovery vehicles on track.”
WHAT WILL CHANGE FROM NOW ON?
Teams will be told via the official messaging system AND communicated via the FIA intercom system that a recovery vehicle is on track. It’s down to teams to tell their drivers of this happening.
There will also be the development of a live virtual safety car and safety car monitoring window to display the status of all cars, on track, behind SC, and in the pits, to be used by Race Control and the ROC.
Within Race Control, there will be a procedure update to define the allocation of tasks under a SC or VSC.
There’s also going to be the “delegation of monitoring of cars entering the pitlane under SC conditions and the consequent length of the SC train”, which has been done specifically after Gasly was far behind the pack for starting at the back and then making a pitstop.
This will also be discussed by the drivers and Race Director during this weekend’s Drivers’ Briefing, so they know what procedures are being introduced. The FIA also want to remind the drivers of the rules relating to Safety Cars and Red Flags.
There’s also going to be the introduction of a “dynamic VSC” function that will change the delta speed required for the driver to follow before and in the sectors where there is an incident. “This would aid the drivers to know where incidents have been declared,” the FIA suggested.
The list keeps going, but for good reason! There’ll also be a review of the penalties for drivers who don’t respect things like yellow and double-yellow flags, as well as VSC and SC conditions.
There’s also going to be a look at how the advertising boards are built, located and what materials are used to stop them from ending up on track – something which happened in Japan and resulted in Gasly driving along with a Rolex board stuck to the front of his AlphaTauri.
Niels Wittich will also remain as Race Director for the remaining four races, with the idea of a rotating Race Director being binned for the rest of this season.
Do you think these changes will help make F1 safer? Let us know in the comments.