By David G. Firestone
I’ve been avoiding this for as long as I can, but I have to address the Jules Bianchi situation. It’s sad that Bianchi died on track during the Japanese Grand Prix last year, but the circumstances surrounding how he died sends my blood to a boil. It also, sadly, confirmed something I knew about F1, but more on that in a bit
On the day of the Japanese Grand Prix, held at Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, Japan, Typhoon Phanfone, a class 1 typhoon, made landfall in Japan. The conditions at the scheduled start time were horrific, yet the race was allowed to start. The weather was so bad, it marked the first time two red flags were shown in a Formula 1 race since the 1990 Belgian Grand Prix. The race was shortened to 44 laps, instead of the scheduled 53 laps. On lap 43, Bianchi lost control of his car, and slammed into a crane moving Adrian Sutil’s car off track. Bianchi was unconscious after the crash, was taken to hospital, and never woke up.
It was a sad situation, but what I, and a lot of other fans are wondering is…WHY WAS THE RACE ALLOWED TO START IN THE FIRST PLACE? Any fan with a functioning brain could see that conditions weren’t ideal for any kind of race, much less Formula 1. Yet, for reasons that have yet to be given a valid explanation, the race started on time. The weather was an obvious issue for the entire race, even red flagged on lap 2 and flat out being called on lap 44. To repeat, A TYPHOON WAS CAUSING SERIOUS WEATHER ISSUES AND THE RACE WAS ALLOWED TO START!
The reason given by the promoters is that they didn’t want to disappoint the fans who had attended the race. Basically, the promoters didn’t want to deal with the fallout from canceling the race at the last minute. Well in doing that, a driver died, and the fallout was much worse. It was clear from the start that money was the driving issue. Driver safety be dammed, there is money to make. I don’t give a shit if Emperor Akihito and Prime Minister Shinzō Abe are in the crowd, when it comes to racing driver safety should be top priority, but on that day, bad PR and lost money were the bigger concern, and again, I hope it was worth it.
The whole situation also confirms what I’ve known about Bernie Ecclestone for a long time, and that is, he is out of touch with reality, to the point he makes Roger Goodell and Gary Bettman look good. He comes across as a grumpy old man, who refuses to believe anything, except what he wants to, no matter what. He had the authority to cancel the race because of the weather, and the safety hazards it produced. It was obvious from the decisions made, he didn’t care about anything except the money lost, and PR issues from canceling the race. His complete lack of leadership in this situation makes it clear he should not be in charge of F1.
What makes this even more rage inducing is that not one of the individuals has admitted his responsibility for their decisions. Not one person has the guts to do so. If I were a member of the Bianchi family, I would be pulling my hair out and screaming in rage! I can only hope that drastic changes are made to the organizational structure of F1, and soon!