There has been no shortage of hot issues in Formula 1 over the past fortnight, and while the budget cap drama still has some way to go, the controversy over the handling of the coronavirus-hit Japanese Grand Prix rain finally reaches its climax.
The F1 world was stunned by the sight of Pierre Gasly speeding past a recovery vehicle in very low visibility. Several other drivers were shocked as they passed within yards of the truck as they followed the safety car in dangerous conditions.
While the FIA was first on the defensive, outrage from drivers in particular, but teams and fans more generally, prompted the governing body to act, and this week it confirmed it had completed a detailed investigation into what had gone wrong in his management of the race. in terrible weather.
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It is promised to publish the report soon.
More important, however, will be the reaction of the drivers at this weekend’s race, when on Friday evening they have their usual meeting with the race director. Their mood after this briefing will tell if they are happy with the results and proposed changes.
In happier news, American legend Mario Andretti will be honored to rename a corner at Circuit of the Americas this week in a fitting tribute to one of America’s most iconic racers.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Grand Prix is making its own track changes, albeit temporarily, which will significantly alter the character of the circuit.
FIA ADMITS ERRORS IN JAPANESE GP SAFETY CALAMITY
The FIA has pledged to publish the findings of its review into the Japanese Grand Prix “in the coming days” after finding problems with the way the race was run.
The first grand prix at Suzuka in three years was marred by several apparent breaches of the rules, the most serious of which was race control sending a recovery truck and tractor onto the circuit during a safety car period despite extremely poor visibility. bad and despite the fact that Pierre Gasly has not yet caught up with the back of the pack after an unscheduled pit stop.
Gasly was apoplectic to have passed the truck at 200 kilometers per hour, as he was entitled to do by the rules. It later transpired that neither he nor his team had been informed that the truck was on the right track. Usually, race control waits until all the cars are grouped together behind the safety car before sending recovery vehicles and marshals onto the circuit.
Drivers were reported to be particularly furious because the issue of on-track circuit vehicles was raised on the Friday before the Japanese Grand Prix after a similar issue in slippery conditions in Singapore a week earlier, although visibility was not a problem in this race. since the rain had stopped falling and most of the standing water had already drained away.
In a statement released after the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council meeting on Wednesday, the governing body said it had completed its post-race investigation and identified several issues.
Drivers SMOKE in wild tractor incident! | 01:25
“As reported immediately after the race, the FIA undertook a thorough analysis of the incidents that occurred during the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka,” he said. “Procedural problems have been identified and will be corrected in the short and medium term.
“The results will be made public in the coming days.”
Key questions the sport needs answered include how race control apparently missed Gasly was still on track when he decided to deploy the safety car and why the session wasn’t simply flagged red before sending out the recovery tractor as the decision was made to suspend the session seconds before Gasly passed the crash site.
The role of the FIA’s much-publicized virtual race control room in Geneva should also come under scrutiny, given that these are the types of things one would expect to see while the race director might be busy. liaising with teams, course clerk and other course officials.
At the same meeting of the World Motor Sport Council, the FIA also made changes to the technical regulations to strengthen the roll bars after Zhou Guanyu’s massive crash at the British Grand Prix, as well as to put in place larger mirrors to improve visibility.
Clarification of the grid penalty rules following the confusion after qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix was also agreed.
CIRCUIT OF THE AMERICAS TO RENAME CORNER IN HONOR OF ANDRETTI
The Circuit of the Americas will rename its final corner in honor of Mario Andretti at a ceremony to be held on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s United States Grand Prix.
Circuit owners will officially name Turn 20 “The Andretti” after the last American to win the Formula 1 world title and lead one of the most important dynasties in world motorsport.
Andretti won 12 career victories and the Formula 1 world championship in 1978, but he also had huge success in the United States, including three Champ Car titles, an IndyCar championship and the Indianapolis 500 in 1969.
It also took a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1995.
It’s a deserved honor for the American racing legend, who officially opened the circuit on October 21, 2012, when he rode the freshly finished track in the Lotus 79 in which he won the 1978 world championship.
The Circuit of the Americas has established itself as the home of Formula 1 and international motorsport in the United States.
This year marks the track’s 10th anniversary and, as part of the celebrations, Andretti will be performing demonstration laps in a 2013 McLaren car on Saturday and Sunday. Last week the 82-year-old overtook Laguna Seca in the same car, fulfilling a promise made by McLaren CEO Zak Brown on the grid at the Miami Grand Prix earlier this season.
Andretti still hopes his son Michael can secure a Formula 1 team entry in 2024 under the Andretti Global brand, which recently set up a new headquarters in Indiana.
SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX DRAMATICALLY SHORTENS NEXT SEASON
The Singapore Grand Prix will be held on a significantly shorter track for the next four events as part of the final sector public works.
The ‘float’ section of the track, which currently runs 16-19, will be inaccessible until at least the end of 2026, during which time the giant floating barge, which is currently a concert and event venue, will be redeveloped into a permanent public square and promenade with a gallery and sports facilities.
This part of the circuit is best known for being the site of one of Formula 1’s most controversial episodes in 2008, when Nelson Piquet Jr was ordered to crash his car to strategically benefit Renault teammate Fernando Alonso, who won the race.
Removing all four corners will significantly speed up one of the slowest average laps on the calendar despite shortening the circuit by just 145 meters from 5.073 kilometers to 4.928 kilometers.
In place of the current sequence of 90 degree corners, there will be a 380 meter long straight which effectively starts from tight turn 14, greatly increasing the approach speed to the old turn 20, which will be the new turn 16.
Circuit organizers estimate qualifying times will drop to 1 minute 27 seconds, although their simulations were run with the previous generation of cars, which were better suited to slow city circuits.
Qualifying in 2019, when the old car was last used in Singapore, was 1 minute 36.217 seconds. The fastest time this year – in FP2, the fastest dry session – was 1 minute 42.587 seconds.
The new layout changes the character of the track, putting more emphasis on straight-line speed and potentially increasing the chances of overtaking in a race normally characterized by processional racing. Fewer slow corners will also show the weaknesses of this generation of car less sharply.
The race will increase by two laps, up to 63 laps, to account for the reduced distance. Even so, the overall race time is expected to shrink to closer to 90 minutes, a marked change for a race that regularly runs near the two-hour maximum limit, as it has this year.
Changes to the track layout are always subject to FIA homologation and approval.