Reaction from Sochi: F1 drivers "united" - wanting answers on Bianchi tragedy
Formula 1 drivers arriving at the Sochi Autodrom ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix have been giving their reaction to the events of last...
Formula 1 drivers arriving at the Sochi Autodrom ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix have been giving their reaction to the events of last weekend in Suzuka, with a mixture of responses, including some angry drivers calling the accident "unacceptable" and demanding answers from the FIA.
Naturally, the drivers were united in declaring that their thoughts are primarily with Jules Bianchi and his family after the Frenchman’s horrific accident which ended the Japanese Grand Prix
Many expressed their sense of togetherness on the subject, despite that several drivers including Felipe Massa and Adrian Sutil are not members of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, which will meet tomorrow to discuss the Suzuka episode. "All the drivers, we’re together and we have the same thoughts: to make things better, especially for safety," said Sutil, who witnessed Bianchi's accident first hand.
All the drivers will take part in the normal FIA drivers' briefing with Race Director Charlie Whiting tomorrow afternoon and have said that they want to know what happened and what can be learned to ensure that it doesn't happen again. The question of drivers merely "lifting off" for yellow flags will certainly be on the agenda, as will the issue of whether yellow flags are enough when JCBs are working in the gravel traps. Whiting has prepared a report on the incident, which will also answer what happened with Bianchi's car which caused it to leave the track as it did and the extent to which he "lifted off" and what the flags and warning lights were saying at the time.
Felipe Massa, who made a comeback to Formula One following a serious head injury sustained at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009 and who shares a manager with Bianchi, spoke eloquently about the emotion of the past week and his motivation for the coming race.
“For me I think it was the worst race of my life,” the Williams driver said. “It’s a really bad race, worse than the race of my accident – because I didn’t remember (that).
“It’s a very difficult weekend for all of us. Maybe tomorrow it will get a little bit better because at least you are working, at least you have something to think about, some issue put inside your brain. (We will ) try to race and do the best we can for him, for his family. But anyway, it was the worse race of my life.”
The Brazilian driver admitted that events such as those of last weekend give him pause for reflection on his chosen career but he was quick to emphasise his enduring commitment to F1 racing.
“For sure you think about (stopping) but that doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do. You know you have a risk but what I like to do. It makes me happy and gives me motivation. Sometimes you think about stopping.
(Racing) gives me motivation, it gives me some happiness so yeah, sometimes you think about it but then you’re thinking more and you understand that this is my world, this is what I like to do.
Asked about the level of acceptable risk in his chosen profession, Sebastian Vettel was unequivocal.
“I think our passport says that we are all old enough to make our own decisions in life and I think generally we all have a brain that we are allowed to use so it’s our own conscious decision if we want to go racing or not,” said the world champion.
“I think we’ve expressed a love that we share for racing for the thrill, for managing the car on the limit etc. Obviously there’s always a risk that something can go wrong and I think it lies in the nature of the sport.
“If you look at the speeds involved etc, I think we’ve come a long way in terms of safety. If you look back and a lot of improvements have been made but I think, yeah, if anyone isn’t happy he’s old enough to say no.
“Surely I think we’ve been very fortunate that in our generation there have been crashes with limited outcome. Obviously last week reminded us all how apparent the risk is and how quickly things can change but surely if you look at the type of accidents we’ve had in the last couple of years, how violent they looked and fortunately nearly nothing happened. It showed that improvements have been made. Obviously that’s a great feeling but you should never lose the respect for what you do.”
Sergio Perez was outspoken in his critiscism of the events in Suzuka, saying they were “unacceptable.” Speaking in the Sochi paddock, the Force India driver said that “we will make sure that they hear us because what happened on Sunday it's totally unacceptable.
“We will go through every single detail or at least myself... many drivers will support this idea but we want to go into full detail on what happened. We gotta be together, we are together.
“I never had this in my whole career where you come into a weekend into a new circuit, such a nice place and you're not really bothered, you're not really interested in what's going on.You only care about Jules and you want to hear some news on him.
“You look on the internet you try to speak to the people in the paddock so it's not a normal weekend.
Perez also believes that the deployment of safety cars is a matter for urgent consideration, agreeing with the suggestion that they don't always appear at the right time in races.
“No they don't. They don't, and it's something definitely that we have to improve.”
Perez's team mate Adrian Sutil was an eye witness to Bianchi's crash but admitted that he had only caught a glimpse at its conclusion and believes that the FIA should be allowed to conlude its investigation before rushing to judgement.
“There’s just so much I could see. The pictures and video on the internet were very clear about what happened so there’s not much more I could say. We have to wait for the investigation. I was standing there not expecting another car to go off.
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