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FIA rules Jules Bianchi at fault for Japan GP crash

The FIA Accident Panel has tabled a 396-page report finding that Jules Bianchi was at fault for his tragic crash on lap 43 of the Japanese Grand Prix in October.

THE FIA CONVENED a special Accident Panel to investigate Bianchi’s tragic accident which has left him fighting for life since, and that Accident Panel released its findings last night suggesting he was traveling too fast to slow down and avoid crashing into the recovery crane.

On lap 43 of the Japanese Grand Prix in October, Jules Bianchi lost control of his Marussia and struck a mobile crane that was recovering Adrian Suitil’s Sauber that had crashed on Lap 42. While, the FIA Accident Panel ruled that Bianchi was at fault, it did temper its findings by suggesting that a number of key incidents contributed to the accident, “though none alone caused it”.

Beyond ‘blaming’ Bianchi suggested there were no other safety precautions, like adding a skirt to the recovery crane or enclosing the cockpit of the F1 car that could be introduced to prevent a similar accident from happening in the future.

According to the FIA Accident Panel, Bianchi failed to slow down and adhere to the double yellow flags displayed to warn of an earlier accident. More than that, the report concluded that two seconds before the impact (at 126km/h) Bianchi pressed both the brake and the throttle which caused the car’s brake-by-wire system fail to cut power as it should have with the Panel blaming the Marussia car… “The FailSafe algorithm is designed to over-ride the throttle and cut the engine, but was inhibited by the Torque Coordinator, which controls the rear Brake-by-Wire system. Bianchi’s Marussia has a unique design of BBW, which proved to be incompatible with the FailSafe settings”.

As a result, a number of new safety precautions have been recommended, including, “It is proposed that drivers acquiring a Super Licence for the first time should undertake a course to familiarise themselves with the procedures used by F1 in running and ensuring the safety of an event. It is also proposed that new licence holders pass a test to ensure that they are familiar with all the relevant regulations.

“It is part of the challenge of a racing driver to drive his car as fast as possible given the track conditions combined with the characteristics of his tyres. Although the characteristics of the wet weather tyres provided by Pirelli did not influence Bianchi’s accident or its outcome in any significant way, it is recommended that provision is made for the tyre supplier to develop and adequately test wet weather tyres between each F1 season, such that it is able to supply the latest developments to the first event.”

In addition, the Panel recommended races not be allowed to start within four hours of sunset or dusk (except for night races), that water drainage at race tracks be reviewed and that a strict speed limit under double yellow flags be imposed.

The FIA Accident Panel consisted of:
Ross Brawn, former Team Principal of Mercedes F1 Team, Brawn Grand Prix  and former Technical Director of Scuderia Ferrari
Stefano Domenicali, former Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari
Gerd Ennser, Chief Stewards’ representative
Emerson Fittipaldi, President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, F1 Steward
Eduardo de Freitas, WEC Race Director
Roger Peart, President of the Circuits Commission, President of the ASN of Canada, F1 Steward
Antonio Rigozzi, Advocate, Judge at the International Court of Appeal of the FIA co-opted by the teams
Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA Institute and President of the Medical Commission
Alex Wurz, President of the GPDA, drivers’ representative


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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober