Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari, Monza, 2019

Vettel: Hubert and Bianchi deaths are a “wake up” call for motorsport

2019 Belgian Grand Prix

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The deaths of Anthoine Hubert and Jules Bianchi in the past five seasons show motorsport must continue to pursue higher safety standards, Sebastian Vettel has said today.

The Ferrari driver said the sport must not jump to conclusions about the causes of Hubert’s crash during last weekend’s Formula 2 sprint race at Spa before the FIA’s investigation is complete.

“I think what happened couldn’t be any worse,” said Vettel during today’s FIA press conference when asked whether the run-off area at the crash scene, Raidillon, should be altered. “It will be examined in a very detailed way which is I think correct and also what one would expect.

“But I think to draw any conclusions now is probably not right. I think we need to have a full picture of a lot of elements. The ones you mentioned are part of those but there are others.”

However Vettel said he wants the sport to continue racing at the track. “I’m a fan of holding races in Spa because it’s a great track and has a great history,” he said.

“A lot of the corners are very unique. But for sure after what happened we have to have a very close look and take some time to understand exactly what happened before we draw any conclusions.”

Several drivers were involved in Hubert’s crash including Juan Manuel Correa, who suffered leg and back injuries and is in intensive care. “As I understand a bit of a chain of happenings or situations that led to the final accident,” said Vettel.

“I think we all had our moment on Saturday and obviously Sunday coming to the race track and driving the race. To some extent it’s part of motorsport. It is dangerous, it’s part of the thrill.

“But certainly obviously the last years have been a wake-up with the passing of Jules and now Anthoine. It shows that there is still things, even if some people think it’s too safe and boring, I think there are still things we can do better, we must improve, we must work on.

“Because I’d rather have boring Formula 1 championships to the end of ever and bring them back. So I think there’s no question about that.”

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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18 comments on “Vettel: Hubert and Bianchi deaths are a “wake up” call for motorsport”

  1. I think we need to have a full picture of a lot of elements. The ones you mentioned are part of those but there are others.

    What were the elements mentioned by the journalist asking the question?

    I’d rather have boring Formula 1 championships to the end of ever and bring him back.

    Yeah, I can get behind this.

  2. Well to some extent the Bianchi accident showed that there are freak accidents you just can’t prepare for, and also don’t speed under yellow. At least the latter since then is policed way more.

    1. in suzuka* it was a deadly combination of the use of dangerous recovery vehicles (which had been used at the track for years before 2014) and the regular flouting of the yellow flag rules going unpunished. without one of those elements at play, it is probable bianchi would still be alive. both of these ‘failures’ were systemic and ongoing and both have been addressed since (recovery vehicles cannot go on track without a safety car or VSC), but of course these are easy fixes in hindsight. proactive safety measures are much harder to implement (cf. the uproar about how the HALO looked…now no one even mentions it).

      it’s interesting to talk about preparedness, but for bianchi’s accident, if the yellow flag rules had been adhered to (and that would mean they should have been policed properly in the years before 2014), he probably wouldn’t have gone off track. so, in a way, there did not need to a safety innovation like the VSC because the existing rules were (probably) enough, only if they had been correctly policed.

      *(i don’t feel qualified/knowledgeable enough to go into the fact the helicopter was unavailable. if you read what gary hartstein wrote (and indeed sid watkins’ autobiography), the fact the race was still going on with the helicopter on the ground is pretty astonishing and there are serious questions about that. this ‘failure’ should be added to the others as things which, on their own, would not have resulted in a tragedy and, additionally, were exposed that day for areas the sport could tighten up on safety.)

      1. But accidents will happen. Look at the LEC crash in Germany. When HAM crashed on the same spot LEC was only meters away, walking unprotected on the runoff. That could have been a serious accident. So still drivers, even experienced ones, drive to fast under Yellow.

        1. Wet races need looking at from scratch as you have a situation where drivers can be driving around on the wrong tyres with no grip. Slowing down just compounds the issue as the slick tyres lose even more temperature and pressure dropping the ride height of the car and losing grip. I think in such situations where you have cars on dry tyres on a wet track it should be a red flag to clear any accidents. They should then allow a tyre switch to the appropriate tyre for all cars still in the race and restart from either standing or rolling start depending on conditions.

      2. @frood19
        Can people please stop mentioning “dangerous recovery vehicles” as an issue when Bianchi was mere inches from hitting actual marshals instead. The type of recovery vehicle had nothing to do with that terrible accident being a terrible accident. The FIA has showed they dont mind at all cars going at dangerous speeds with unprotected humans on the track and their stance hasnt changed at all since Bianchi.

        There have been multiple near misses where pure luck has saved them from a crash just like Hubert so there is nothing “freaky” about that accident. Cars smacking into each other at full speed will happen again and no the thong doesnt solve any of those two issues.

        1. @rethla yeah, that’s a good point. at grand prix, more marshalls have died in the last 20 years than F1 drivers. I think my point still stands that if the yellow flag rules had been properly enforced in the races and years leading up to suzuka 2014, bianchi would not (or would have been far less likely to) have gone off at that point. you can have marshalls on the track and theoretically it could be covered with double waved yellows (“slow down and be prepared to stop” is the instruction, I think) but of course common practice at the time was to make a cursory lift and blast through essentially unslowed, let alone prepared to stop the car.

          the point about the dangerous vehicle is that, had it been a crane positioned off-track (a la monaco) or something the didn’t allow an F1 car to submarine underneath it, that crash would probably not have been fatal.

          1. @frood19
            I fully agree about the double yellows, that alone is what caused the Bianchi accident and absolute nothing has been done about it. FIA has just kept the hivemind press occupied with the “Halo” instead and they bought it fully.

    2. I’m saddened that the FIA’s victim blaming passing the buck bianchi report has become the norm when in fact it was their own failure to put out the sc when there was a freaking tractor on the runoff of one of the fastest corners of the sport that caused bianchi’s death.

      The data showed he did lift off and because ld the river of water across the track, the fact he lifted off and the resultant downforce loss might have been the reason he lost control over the water in the first place.

      What we do know is sutil in the sauber had an identical accident the lap before (the reason there was a tractor out in the first place ) and jumped out of his car perfectly fine.
      The only thing that differed between jules accident and Adrian’s was the presence of the tractor under racing conditions because the FIA were more worried about losing the finish of the race due to fading light than they were driver safety
      (They also played fast and loose with the sauber again at hockenheim earlier in the year expecting marshals to push a stalled car from the exit of a blind final corner under green flag conditions, a ridiculous gamble with human lives and once again showing how the race directors value their precious purism over keeping the races unartifiical over human life
      The official line from charlie after that race was he didn’t think it would be fair on nico to put out a sc since lewis has fresher tyres behind him and Rosberg would lose the gap he had built up…nothing to do with the danger of a car stopped on the racing line at all. Ridiculous)

      Sorry for the long post but I cant allow a poor dead driver’s legacy to be continually blamed.
      The fia shifted the blame onto jules and added too little too late changes like the vsc to avoid taking responsibility for their own inaction and it has never sat well with me.

  3. “But certainly obviously the last years have been a wake-up with the passing of Jules and now Anthoine. It shows that there is still things, even if some people think it’s too safe and boring, I think there are still things we can do better, we must improve, we must work on.

    “Because I’d rather have boring Formula 1 championships to the end of ever and bring them back. So I think there’s no question about that.”

    Here here.

  4. It has been decided that gravel will be added to the run off area in at the exit of Raidillon even though the investigation is still unfinished.

    1. Unfortunately, the strip of tarmac on the right where Hubert was struck by the oncoming car of Juan Manuel Correa is located on the track’s endurance racing pit lane exit, so covering that area with gravel is not an option.

      https://f1i.com/news/353011-spa-to-replace-raidillon-tarmac-run-off-with-gravel-trap.html

      1. They need to bring rules in to state that a driver will be punished if they go off the track (by a cars-width) and keep their foot buried. If there was gravel, Correa would have slowed down more and would have stayed on the track but instead, he went wide and floored it. I don’t blame him – unless the rules stop drivers from doing this, they’ll always be focused on getting to the finish as fast as possible.

        They have to stop cars from going well off the track and keeping their foot down as though they are still on the track. Once you’re a cars-width off, you have to drive as though it’s waved yellows. Lift and re-join the track as early as safely possible.

        1. @petebaldwin
          As we saw in this crash “lift and re-join” aint a safe thing to do on a race track, its especially bad in a blind corner.

  5. I am sick and tired of people who think that we can have RISK-FREE motor racing. It is an oxymoron. Fast cars will always carry energy levels that, when confronted with obstacles, generate massive amounts of G’s due to barupt deceleration. It is that simple. Physics 101.

    Why do Vettel, Lewis and all the other drivers think they are paid tens of millions of euros, dollars, pounds, etc? panem et circenses. They are a component of the “circus”, entertainment for the masses. It is entertaining because, in part, there is a component of risk. You want driver risk-free racing? Try remote controlled or autonomous racing cars.

    No sane F1 fan wants to see a driver hurt or killed, but, foolish attempts to make racing risk-free are just misguided.

    1. Correct. Imagine F1 putting on 21 French GPs per year. No thanks.

  6. No need to think it can be risk-free but perfection has to be the ultimate goal.

    No one in the top F1 feeder series has died in the past 24 years, so the safety is pretty good already. But clearly always room for improvement, and the run off area certainly will be discussed here quite a lot.

  7. I don’t want boring F1 championships to the end of forever. Better the sport winds down than make that it’s USP.

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