The Japanese Grand Prix was a wet and grave event in which Marussia driver Jules Bianchi was seriously injured after running off track in the wet and striking a service tractor that was removing Adrian Sutil’s stricken Sauber.
The most pressing issue is the condition of Jules and while most people would echo that sentiment, it was quite sad to see the immediate social media reaction, in real time, as the emergency personnel launched into motion in order to protect and care for Bianchi.
The Twitter feeds went from confusion to shock to anger and then accusations and blame in the span of less than 3 minutes. I’ll be honest; the mobocracy nature of social media is a real damp squib for me. The numerous tweets of concern are logical but the blaming, accusations and vitriol heaped on the series, teams, drivers, helicopters and just about every other aspect of this year’s Japanese Grand Prix left nearly every potential element of the race accused of causing the incident.
Blame for the incident ranged from the refusal to start the race earlier, the low light and visibility issues for starting so late, the lack of an immediate release of the Safety Car when Sutil’s car left the track and even the FIA’s culpability in how they handled the emergency. I understand the notion of fear, concern and emotions and how that can play a role but the lack of restraint was immeasurable.
Perhaps many of those elements will be considered and while social media immediately started hailing the multitude of “lessons to be learned” from the incident, I think we would do well to reserve our presumably cathartic tweets and posts of outrage, anger and accusations in favor of allowing all focus to be on Bianchi and his condition.
For Niki Lauda—who is no stranger to torrential rain in Japan (see 1976)—says the FIA did nothing wrong and this is a stark reminder that racing is and will always bee dangerous:
“Motor racing is dangerous,” he said. “We get used to it when nothing happens and then suddenly we are all surprised.
“But we always have to be aware that motor racing is always dangerous – and this accident today is a coming together of various different things.
“One car goes off, the truck comes out and the next car comes off and this was very unfortunate.”
Veteran driver Felipe Massa says he was screaming for the race to be stopped but another veteran, McLaren’s Jenson Button, saw it differently saying:
“I think the FIA did a really good job of controlling the situation,” he said.
“It’s so difficult. They are listening to us the whole time.
“We want to go racing, but we want do it in a safe way. By the time the spray is not too much you are almost ready for intermediate tyres already.
“I think they did a very good job to control the situation because it’s not easy for them.”
As I watched the mobocracy fire into incendiary action, I couldn’t help but think that if there were “lessons” to be “learned” from the incident, let’s at least wait until Bianchi gets to the hospital and out of surgery. Such is life, that is the nature of social media. Concerned fans angered by an injured driver and seeking resolution and causal relations in order to make sure it never happens again. A nobel charter and perhaps hashtags and tweets will finally eliminate the danger in racing through naming and shaming nearly everyone involved.
I’ll afford everyone his or her opinion but hopefully you’ll forgive me for not piling on in the quest for a person or element to blame for the accident. I’m not sure the FIA or Formula One Management needs my armchair philosophy and accusations at this point. I’ll be over here hoping for the best for Jules and his recovery.
Hat Tip: AUTOSPORT