Brawn and Domenicali join FIA’s Bianchi accident investigation

Ross Brawn, Stefano Domenicali and Emerson Fittipaldi are among the members of the FIA Accident Panel which has been formed to investigate the Jules Bianchi incident in Suzuka.

As previously announced, the Panel will be led by Peter Wright, who is Chairman of the FIA Safety Commission.

The FIA said today that “the group will carry out a full review of the accident to gain a better understanding of what happened, and will propose new measures to reinforce safety at circuits, with recommendations to be made for the FIA President. The work of the group will start this week and a full presentation of its findings is to be made at the next meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on 3 December 2014 in Doha, Qatar.”

In addition to Wright the full composition of the Panel, as outlined by the FIA, is as follows:

Ross Brawn, former Team Principal of Mercedes F1 Team, Brawn Grand Prix and former Technical Director of Scuderia Ferrari

Stefano Domenicali, former Team Principal of Scuderia Ferrari

Gerd Ennser, Chief Stewards’ representative

Emerson Fittipaldi, President of the FIA Drivers’ Commission, F1 Steward

Eduardo de Freitas, WEC Race Director

Roger Peart, President of the Circuits Commission, President of the ASN of Canada, F1 Steward

Antonio Rigozzi, Advocate, Judge at the International Court of Appeal of the FIA co-opted by the teams

Gérard Saillant, President of the FIA Institute and President of the Medical Commission

Alex Wurz, President of the GPDA, drivers’ representative

 

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Hulkenberg to stay with Force India in 2015

Nico Hulkenberg will remain at Sahara Force India in 2015, the team confirmed today.

Hulkenberg rejoined the team this season after one year with Sauber, and he has been a consistent point scorer.

Everybody in the team is delighted to see Nico remain a Sahara Force India driver for next season,” said team boss Vijay Mallya. “We rate him very highly and he has done a tremendous job this year by consistently picking up crucial championship points. We know him extremely well: he’s a true racer and he knows how to motivate the team. I am convinced he is one of the best talents on the grid and I am proud that he will continue to race in the colours of Sahara Force India.”

It’s good to confirm my plans for next season,” said Hulkenberg. “This is a team I know extremely well and we’ve enjoyed a great year together with some special results. The team has big ambitions and I believe we can have a competitive package once again next year. We have a strong partner in Mercedes and everyone in the team is motivated and hungry for more success. I have a good feeling for 2015 and there is a lot to be excited about as we try to build on the results we have achieved this year.”

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Marussia responds to allegations about Bianchi’s speed

Marussia has issued a statement responding to what it calls “isolated media reports” about Jules Bianchi’s accident in Suzuka, and which referred to his speed under double waved yellow flags.

This is what the team says:

During the course of Tuesday 14 October, a number of media reports emerged suggesting:

1) that Jules Bianchi did not slow down under the double waved yellow flags shown after Adrian Sutil had spun off in the wet conditions

and

2) that the team urged Jules to go faster during the double waved yellow flag period in order to keep Marcus Ericsson behind.

The Marussia F1 Team is shocked and angered by these allegations. At a time when its driver is critically ill in hospital, and the team has made clear that its highest priority is consideration for Jules and his family, it is distressed to have to respond to deeply upsetting rumours and inaccuracies in respect of the circumstances of Jules’ accident. However, given that these allegations are entirely false, the team has no alternative but to address these.

Regarding point 1, Jules did slow down under the double waved yellow flags. That is an irrefutable fact, as proven by the telemetry data, which the team has provided to the FIA. In the FIA press conference which took place in Sochi on Friday 10 October, Charlie Whiting, the FIA’s Race Director, confirmed that the team had provided such data, that he himself had examined this data and that Jules did slow.

Regarding point 2, an audio copy of the full radio transmission between Jules and the team, and also a written transcript thereof, were provided to the FIA. It is quite clear from the transmission and the transcript that at no point during the period leading up to Jules’ accident did the team urge Jules to drive faster or make any comments suggesting that he should do so.

The team sincerely hopes that, having clarified these facts, it can now avoid any further distractions to its primary focus at this time, which is providing support for Jules and his family.

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McLaren line-up will be announced before end of season, says Boullier

McLaren boss Eric Boullier says that the team is still on course to announce its drivers for 2015 before the end of this season.

Meanwhile Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen remain in limbo until that decision is confirmed.

“I hope to sort out our decision and driver line-up before the end of the season,” said Boullier. “It’s true that it takes a bit more time than maybe we would have let’s say dealt with, but it’s still on course to be announced and sealed before the end of the season.”

Meanwhile Boullier accepts that life is difficult for the current drivers, and especially Button.

“I understand obviously that he may not feel comfortable, and obviously he’s concerned about his future. I’m in charge of McLaren Racing and we have to build the best for the team. Drivers are obviously very important in the discussion, and Jenson is more than considered to stay with us for the long term. But we are still investigating what we want to do with our driver line-up, once we have all the data in our hands.”

Boullier says the decision is not affected by recent good results from Jenson: “We know the value of Jenson, and we know he is a World Champion class driver, and he has been a World Champion already, so we don’t need him to deliver an extra job on track to let’s say save his job.”

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Bianchi still critical but stable, says Marussia

Marussia has issued a further statement on Jules Bianchi today, in conjunction with the Frenchman’s family. He remains in a critical but stable condition, and the family has made it clear that messages of support have been a great comfort.

The statement read: “The past nine days have been extremely difficult for Jules and his family. As a consequence of the accident at Suzuka, a number of medical challenges have needed to be overcome and the situation remains challenging due to the diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury Jules has sustained.

“Jules remains in a critical but stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit of Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. The Bianchi family continue to be comforted by the thoughts and prayers of Jules’ many fans and the motor sport community. In particular, the many demonstrations of support and affection during the course of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi were of enormous comfort to Jules’ parents and the relatives and friends also present at the hospital.

“The family will provide further medical updates when appropriate.”

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“The engine unfreeze is not a silver bullet,” says Ferrari boss

Ferrari boss Marco Mattiacci is adamant that F1 needs an engine ‘unfreeze’ in 2015 – and that it is a matter of principle in that the sport should be about innovation.

He also admitted that there was no guarantee that it would change the pecking order.

Mattiacci was quizzed re the unlikelihood of Mercedes changing its mind and supporting an unfreeze at the next F1 Commission meeting.

“In life is it important to try,” he said. “We are trying to do our best because we have a strong belief that innovation is at the base of the success of F1. We’re a company that produces the pinnacle of engineering, so I think it is important that innovation is at the centre of this F1. I cannot go back to my fans and say I cannot perform better in the engine, I need to wait one year. I don’t think it is a fair answer. We absolutely stick to the principles of these new regulations. We’re not asking to change, we’re asking for a fine tuning, applying the same principle.

“If we win, if it may be possible, otherwise, that’s it. Let’s arrive to the F1 Commission, then we’ll see the consequences. One step at a time.”

Questioned on the possibility of costs rising he said: “I think honestly from our point of view there is not a cost increase, and again the other argument maybe today if I had the possibility to upgrade my engines, maybe the teams I supply would have scored points, and would have extra revenues. For a small team not to have the possibility to catch up is much more dramatic than for a big team.

“I have always said the engine unfreeze is not a silver bullet, that I’m going to catch up with Mercedes. Again it’s a principle, sometimes you fight for a principle. I think the F1 I grew up [with] is about innovation and catching up with the best. We are working in order that aside of the engine unfreeze upgrade, we are working very hard to catch up, but that’s a principle we are working on.”

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Pirelli compound choice for Brazil is “very dangerous,” says Massa

Drivers have expressed concerns about Pirelli’s choice of medium and hard tyres for Interlagos, with the feeling being that they won’t provide enough grip.

“If you see the choices for the next races, they are a little bit strange,” said Fernando Alonso. “To have the medium and the hard in Brazil, is very surprising. Of course it’s their decision, we have to try to help them in any question they have.”

Felipe Massa was particularly vocal on the subject: “It’s dangerous, very dangerous. First of all Interlagos was never a track to use medium and hard, it’s a track where we can use even supersoft and soft, but in the conservative way, soft and medium. I have no idea why they chose medium and hard, this is completely unacceptable.

“It’s a track that you can have rain, it’s a track that you can be cold, it’s a track that maybe you have a condition that you need to risk by putting the dry tyres, and it’s so hard that it would be dangerous, so I don’t understand it. And they’re changing the asphalt, normally whatever track I go they change the asphalt, it gets even easier.

“I have no idea why they chose these tyres. I even spoke to the guy from Pirelli, and he said I was right.”

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