The FIA has revealed surprising new findings of its investigation into Carlos Sainz’s recent FP3 accident at Sochi, and come to a conclusion that is markedly different to that first thought.
Sainz’s car was believed to have submarined under the TecPro barrier due to its low nose design.
However, the FIA’s frame-by-frame analysis of the crash – revealed to the press in Austin on Saturday night – shows that the TecPro barrier had done its job before rebounding on to the top of his Toro Rosso.
This ‘bounce-back’ movement – not a submarining motion – is what trapped Sainz in his car, hampering his extraction by marshals.
Laurent Mekies, FIA safety director, confirmed that the impact with the TecPro barrier was 153kph – “probably the highest speed impact this year” – a frontal crash with a “40g-ish peak”.
The car decelerated from 153kph to zero in four metres.
“It was quite an extreme stop, and it is quite an outstanding performance that both the car and barriers allowed the driver to walk away from the crash,” said Mekies.
“From the video analysis, you see the barrier rising between 0.167s and 200milliseconds, at the very end of the impact when the car was stopped.
“It does this when it is rebounding from the Armco, which is a very important thing for us to improve and solve because it gave quite a few concerns for the rescue team.
“But it was quite a different situation compared to a car submarining beneath the barrier. It is obviously quite a different conclusion compared to what was initially felt, giving us quite a challenge to resolve how to avoid that rebounding phase, but it is also giving us confidence into the barrier and car performance in the crash.”
Wurz: crash data is “mindblowing”
GPDA chairman Alex Wurz also gave his reaction to the findings, stating that the “numbers were quite mindblowing when you consider that Carlos raced the next day”.
“The bottom line is that it’s really impressive and is thanks to all the intense work that has been done," Wurz added. "We are not stopping; F1 is always striving for safer solutions.
“The issue that came up about him being under the barrier, this is something that will definitely be dealt with, and we were reassured of this and the drivers understand everything.
"All the protocol, the crisis and risk management, was done in a very satisfying way, and the all the drivers agreed and accepted this [in the drivers’ briefing] yesterday.”