Formula 1’s governing body the FIA will implement a series of changes to their procedures following the rain-hit Japanese Grand Prix.
Several drivers voiced their frustration that a crane was sent out on track in wet conditions to recover Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari following a first-lap crash.
Speaking on Thursday in Austin before the report was published, Charles Leclerc said: “I think we all made that point clear with the FIA – we don’t want to see that. In 2014, we’ve obviously lost Jules [Bianchi] for a similar crash and we’ve been very clear with the FIA that we don’t want that and I think they understood… We always have discussions after the races and of course this was a part of the discussions.”
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The FIA triggered a review into the incident and other actions that took place, with President Mohammed Ben Sulayem meeting with several drivers, including Grand Prix Drivers’ Association Director George Russell and Pierre Gasly, who drove past the crane while it was on track.
The FIA said that while they focused on the safe recovery of the Ferrari, Gasly’s AlphaTauri – which had pitted after hitting an advertising hoarding that had drifted onto track after Sainz’s impact – was not “immediately detected”.
Gasly re-joined the track and drove to the Safety Car delta time in a bid to catch the pack. As he approached the incident at Turn 12, marshals were working with a crane on track.
“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,” said the FIA in a statement.
“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.”
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Ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix, the following measures will be implemented.
- The FIA will message teams via the official messaging system to notify them that a recovery vehicle is on track. The team is then obliged to tell their drivers.
- A live VSC/Safety Car monitoring window will be developed. This will display the status of all cars on track, behind the Safety Car and in the pits.
- The governing body will “better define the allocation of tasks across the Race Control team”, such as the role of monitoring cars entering the pit lane under Safety Car conditions.
- The FIA Race Director will speak to the drivers during their regular post-Friday practice briefing.
- A new function will allow a change in 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.
- There will be a review of penalty precedents for drivers not respecting the rules relating to yellow, double yellow, VSC and SC conditions will take place.
- An assessment of the current application of advertising boards, their construction, location and materials used to avoid the potential for them to being torn off and thrown on track, will take place.
In addition, Niels Wittich will permanently take on the role of Race Director for the final four remaining races in 2022, rather than sharing the position with Eduardo Freitas, who was in charge at Suzuka.
The FIA also said they will clarify the wording of the regulations regarding the race time limit and points distribution during the next review of the Sporting Regulations, after there was some confusion at Suzuka.