Human error at the core of Jules Bianchi crash

The findings reports that there is no single cause. The accident may have been contributed to by a sequence of events, but it was not an isolated event. The appointed FIA panel has found that the major cause of the accident was human error, following an investigation into the fatal crash of Jules Bianchi in the Japanese Grand Prix.

Towards the end of the Japanese Grand Prix, the final corner of the Dunlop Curve, which is part of the sequence of corners on the track, abruptly narrowed, causing very difficult track conditions. The track was already dry and semi-racing conditions were present, but the mixed conditions caused by a passing weather system ahead of the area, including a typhoon, made the track extremely challenging.

Adrian Sutil, the Sauber driver, lost control of his car at the exit of the corner and hit the retaining wall. The car was damaged, but Sutil was unhurt. Marshals were present to assist in the recovery of the damaged car and to clear the track of debris. A tractor or vehicle recovery vehicle was sent out to move the car to a safe position behind the wall and to repair the barrier. This is a standard procedure for recovering a car in a position like this.

Overtaking is not allowed. If needed, come to a halt and decelerate for drivers who indicate these flags. Double yellow flags were shown in advance to caution other drivers of the impending danger and to ensure the safety of workers on the track.

Afterwards, one lap after the Sauber driver veered off track, Jules Bianchi, who had been directly in front of Sutil, returned to the scene in his Marussia MR03. The two waved yellow flags were displayed to him as Sutil’s car was being retrieved at that particular spot. Bianchi did not decelerate adequately under the two waved yellow flags, for reasons that may never be fully understood and have already been discussed in other places. It is evident that from this moment onward, a collision was highly probable, and it still could have been prevented or its impact could have been lessened.

What was the extent and impact of the Marussia’s collision? It was now a matter of uncertainty. It was inevitable that a crash would occur at the location where the recovery operation was taking place, where the car veered off the track, lost traction at the rear, and ended up in a straight heading upwards. Just like Sutil, Bianchi also lost control of the car, and moments later, the Marussia arrived on the same patch of water where he had just been caught out.

Bianchi did not lift, but it is likely that he also engaged the throttle (it is unclear from the reports if the throttle was already engaged, but it is likely and Bianchi simply did not lift). Additionally, for some unknown reason, this caused the front wheels to become locked, resulting in the inability to steer. He tried to brake, but this caused the front wheels to lock, making steering impossible. Despite having enough time to avoid the recovery vehicle, Bianchi made an effort to do so while his car was exiting the track and crossing the run-off area for 2 seconds.

The FailSafe system, known as Coordinator Torque, is designed to override the throttle and cut the engine in the event of a scenario where the rear brake wire design of the Marussia BBW MR03 system is incompatible and prevents the car from functioning properly. This safety system, called FailSafe, is present in all F1 2014 cars and ensures that the engine is cut in this exact scenario where the Marussia BBW MR03 brake system is used with settings that are incompatible and prevent the Coordinator Torque system from doing its job. The onboard computer in the cars contains an algorithm software called FailSafe, which is specifically designed to cut the engine and override the throttle in this situation.

Bianchi may have been distracted by what was happening and the fact that his front wheels were locked and he was unable to steer the car, resulting in him missing the crane. It is possible that this may have affected the impact velocity; and this may have been due to the driver not cancelling the engine torque as requested by the FailSafe.

The collision may have been preventable or its intensity lessened if the FailSafe mechanism had operated. The intensity might have potentially been lessened if Bianchi had lifted off in the last two seconds before impact, had not overcorrected the car’s steering, and had sufficiently decelerated for the double waved yellows.

The severe injuries were caused by the massive angular acceleration and deceleration of the glancing nature of the blow. The Frenchman’s helmet hit the airbox and tore off the roll hoop, causing substantial damage to his composite car chassis. The car Bianchi’s rear left wheel and engine cover were hit, resulting in little reduction in speed and substantial damage to the 6.5 metric tonne vehicle.

Bianchi subsequently passed away due to his injuries.

Marussia MR03 Following the crash there were many inaccurate stories in the media, with many comments being published that a closed cockpit could have reduced the injuries suffered by Bianchi but the report rubbishes this suggestion.

It is not feasible to mitigate the injuries suffered by Bianchi by either fitting skirts to the crane or enclosing the driver’s cockpit. The approach is not practical due to the large forces involved in the accident between a 6500kg crane striking a 700kg car at a speed of 126kph. There is simply insufficient structure on the F1 car to absorb the energy of the impact without either destroying the driver’s cell or generating non-survivable decelerations.

It is fundamentally considered wrong to make a heavy and large vehicle survivable and try to race it between impacts. It is imperative to prevent the car from hitting the working marshals and the crane nearby.

The report contradicts this viewpoint, yet other publications and websites proposed that the safety car ought to have been utilized during the removal of Sutil’s car wreckage.

The reason why Car Safety should have been deployed is not apparent, without the benefit of hindsight. Before or after Sutil’s accident, Car Safety should have been taken into consideration. If drivers fail to adhere to the requirements of double yellow flags, officials should immediately put them in physical danger, and neither competitors nor officials should be exempt from this. The actions taken following Sutil’s accident were consistent with the interpretation of regulations.

The report provided several suggestions, some of which have already been put into action.

1. A fresh rule for dual yellow flags:

Suggested additional Appendix H Article (potentially within b):.

The Clerk of the Course will impose a speed limit in any section of track where double yellow flags are being displayed.

In order to implement it in 2015, comprehensive rules and instructions for the implementation of this fresh rule should be formulated by a Working Group, comprising FIA Race Directors and Stewards, that ought to convene in various global circuit racing events.

2. Software that is crucial for safety:

An examination of safety crucial software and measures to verify its integrity will occur.

3. Track drainage:.Output: 3. Track water flow:.

The guidelines regarding circuit drainage will be reassessed to incorporate the drainage of access roads.

4. Rule of 4 hours:

Section 5.3 of the F1 Sporting Regulations declares that:

If the race gets suspended (refer to Article 41), a maximum total of four hours of race time will be included in this duration.

A regulation or guideline is proposed that night races, unless otherwise specified, should start at least 4 hours before either sunset or dusk, in order to establish the start time of an event.

Races taking place during local rainy seasons should be avoided, where possible, it is also recommended that the F1 Calendar is reviewed.

5. Super License.

It is proposed that drivers who are acquiring a Super Licence for the first time should enroll in a course to acquaint themselves with the procedures employed by F1 in managing and guaranteeing 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.

6. F1 danger assessment.

The safety defences of F1 will be thoroughly reviewed to identify any potential weaknesses that could lead to a severe accident caused by an unexpected combination of circumstances.

7. Tyres.

It is recommended that the tyre supplier makes provisions for the wet weather test and development between each F1 season, so that they are able to supply the latest developments to the event. Although the characteristics of the wet weather tyres provided by Pirelli did not influence the outcome or accident of Bianchi, it is still a significant part of the challenge for a racing driver to drive his car as fast as possible.

Moving ahead, racing should be more secure and several of the suggestions proposed by the report could not have been made prior to the incident at Suzuka. Though human mistake was mostly responsible in this instance, the report does indicate that Bianchi’s crash and ongoing struggle for survival will persistently ignite discussion within racing communities.