As Formula 1 is getting settled in Sochi for the very first Russian Grand Prix, the difficult task of competing in the race must be mentally and emotionally challenging for the Marussia team.
Just three days ago, driver Jules Bianchi suffered a violent crash and is in critical but stable condition. Marussia announced today that their GP3 will not participate this weekend but that the decision was made in advance of the Japanese Grand Prix.
We’ve called, here and here, for a reduction in the rhetoric, tirades and anger that has permeated the social media and press since the incident. The accusations, innuendos, internet-assembled diagnosis of brain injuries and calls for FIA heads is simply white noise and the nonsensical mobocracy of social media. It’s exhausting and boorish.
Just a nuance of the type of thing that concerns me is a recent article offering a veiled face-slap by AUTOSPORT regarding F1 car canopies. In the article, and headline, it implies that F1 teams shunned the concept of a canopy back in 2013 because it looked ugly. That may be the initial reaction to the concept that the FIA placed before the teams but I think it betrays some of the concern the teams most likely had over driver extrication, visibility and other issues beyond mere aesthetics. Regardless of how the article unpacks the issues around a canopy, the headline merely suggest the avoidance of a implied life-saving safety measure over the puerile reaction of it being ugly.
A recent BBC Sport article shares former F1 driver and frequent steward Derek Warwick’s comments asking for F1 to avoid knee-jerk reactions. In this article, the author says, quite matter-of-fact, that the FIA rejected a move to introduce closed canopies and goes on to say that “amid renewed calls”, meaning someone is calling for closed canopies. It is a hyperlink and when following it you discover they link an ESPN story involving Williams head of vehicle performance, Rob Smedley.
In this article Smedley comments on the concept of a closed cockpit device but he isn’t necessarily advocating it so much as merely explaining that the sport looked at it and that it isn’t a closed topic. That’s hardly “renewed calls” for a canopy in F1. In fact, I’d argue that he may have been asked about it, not simply offered it on his own but I don’t know that, it’s just a guess.
Stepping into the realm of obvious, there is no way to know if a canopy would have prevented any injury in the Bianchi crash. Having seen the entire left side and roll cage sheared off of the car, I suspect the canopy would have been amongst the debris on the ground as well.
Again, I would humbly ask for everyone to reduce the rhetoric and sly innuendos. Saying that there are demands that the sport use canopies is simply not a fact, it’s an opinion that someone would like to see happen. Who’s calling for it in F1? Is Charlie Whiting calling for it? Is Jean Todt? Who’s “calling” for it? Or are we merely discussing it again because of the accident. There is a big difference.
Ultimately I can assure that 95% of the invective and rhetoric is coming from people so far removed from the daily job of motorsport safety that it becomes patronizing to read all these comments. No one is better positioned to research, report and design safety measures for motorsport than the FIA who have been saving lives for decades with regulatory and race oversight.
Despite all of its wondrous miracles, starting a hashtag justice campaign on social media and asking for the head of Charlie Whiting is simply a complete betrayal of logic, reason and patience. Just stop it!
Have some respect for those men and women who work for the FIA and have spent a majority of their adult life saving lives, studying motorsport and working with people far smarter than us to solve potential safety concerns.
While we’re at it, Googling DAI brain injuries and becoming a brain surgeon in the span of 15 minutes in order to offer prognosis on Jules Bianchi is also irritating so stop it. Inform people on what DAI is? Sure, suggesting outcomes and diagnosis is just silly.
Web searches will never replace a lifetime of experience spent at a discipline such as motorsport safety regulations and oversight or brain surgery.