Formula 1

Jules Bianchi's speed main factor in Suzuka crash claims FIA report

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Jules Bianchi's speed has been deemed the main factor in his crash at the Japanese Grand Prix nearly two months ago.

In a report released by an FIA panel of ten members including former Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, former Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali and double world champion Emerson Fittipaldi, it was concluded the Frenchman had failed to slow down sufficiently in the yellow flag zone where Adrian Sutil's Sauber was being recovered and lost control in the wet conditions at Suzuka hitting the back of the recovery tractor.

Crash timeline 

In a review of the timeline prior to Bianchi's crash, the report said that the worsening conditions as well as water draining back onto the drying racing line through the Dunlop curve was the cause for Sutil to lose control on lap 42, hitting the barrier on the outside.

With double waved yellows now in force, meaning slow down and be prepared to stop because men are on circuit, Bianchi approached the same zone a lap later and at a similar point also lost control of his Marussia.

Initially the car was oversteering up the hill but an overcorrection of the slide by Bianchi meant the front veered to the outside of the track (in other words a tankslapper) a little earlier than the Sauber meaning the Marussia went head on into the recovery vehicle with Jules' head hitting the sloped underside of the JCB. The speed at the moment of impact was 126kph (79mph).

The report has also suggested that a fail-safe mechanism that is supposed to cut the engine when a driver presses both the throttle and the brakes did not work on the Marussia.

Race stewards cleared 

The report also cleared stewards and race director Charlie Whiting of any wrongdoing despite some questioning whether the Safety Car should have been deployed due to the worsening conditions and a lack of run-off area on the outside of the corner.

"The actions taken following Sutil’s accident were consistent with the regulations, and their interpretation following 384 incidents in the preceding eight years," the report read.

"Without the benefit of hindsight, there is no apparent reason why the Safety Car should have been deployed either before or after Sutil’s accident."

There was, however, a recommendation to introduce a speed limit through all yellow flag zones - something the FIA is to introduce with the Virtual Safety Car (VSC) in 2015.


Another recommendation included a rule that means all races, excluding those at night, should start at least four hours before sunset.

This was another area that was criticised at the time of the accident as the race started only two-and-a-quarter hours before sunset despite a four-hour window that the two hours of racing can be completed in.

Indeed some drivers pointed at the poor light as possibly a contributing factor, however, the introduction could cause changes at more than just the Suzuka race.

Australia and Malaysia's start times were moved to 5pm and 4pm respectively in recent years in an attempt to be more fan-friendly, given the early morning start in Europe, but should this rule be introduced they would have to change.

A more Asia-related issue that the report mentions is the running of races in rainy seasons, of course something like a Typhoon, which was approaching Japan on the day of the race, can not be predicted, however, in the monsoonal climates of Brazil and Malaysia again a review could be had into whether their dates should be moved.

Pirelli wet tyre test

Finally, while the panel did not find the Pirelli wet tyres to be at fault in Bianchi's crash, there was a call for a wet-weather tyre test to ensure the Italian supplier's rubber is the absolute best it can be.

Indeed while its true the tyres were not at fault, the amount of mileage Bianchi had completed on the set of intermediates at the time of the crash meant they had lost some of the their groove-depth so therefore would not have been able to clear the standing water as efficiently as a new tyre would have.


Of course, while the findings of the report can't change what happened, as Bianchi remains unconscious in a Nice hospital, it is hoped these recommendations can try to prevent another such incident from happening again.

For now, F1 continues to think about and pray for Jules Bianchi in the hope that he can make a full recovery as the sport continues to learn from one of the most upsetting accidents in recent history.

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