The appearance of a tow truck on the Suzuka circuit following Carlos Sainz’s crash on the first lap of the Japanese GP prompted drivers to immediately call for it not to happen again in the future, with many citing Jules Bianchi’s horrific crash at 2014 which tragically led to his death in July 2015.
Since the Suzuka race, F1 drivers have been discussing the crane amongst themselves and individually with FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem .
But the tow truck discussion will take on a more formal context at the drivers’ briefing, which will be attended by FIA race directors Niels Wittich and Eduardo Freitas .
“I think we have all made this point clear with the FIA,” said Charles Leclerc. “No, we don’t want to see that. In 2014 we lost Jules to a similar accident.”
“And we have been very clear with the FIA that we don’t want that. And I think they have understood that,” the Ferrari man continued.
The director of the F1 Drivers’ Association (GPDA) , George Russell, indicated that the FIA has to find solutions to make the use of cranes safer.
“All the drivers have raised their concerns, mainly with each other so far,” he said when asked by Motorsport.com about the recent discussions. “I think most of us have also been in contact with Mohammed and heard his views.”
“And we’re going to sit down this Friday at the drivers’ briefing and hear what the FIA, from the race director’s perspective, has to say.”
“But I think we all agree that that was absolutely not the right thing to do. We should never get to that stage. And then I think we have to come to an agreement between the drivers if we ever get a tow truck on the track again.”
“If so, what are the circumstances? Maybe it can only be on one straight, or we’re not allowed to weave or maybe there has to be a speed limit in that mini sector. Maybe there has to be radio communications to say there is something in the circuit at that point.
“So yes, we have to work together to find a better solution.”
After what happened in Japan a fortnight ago, Russell acknowledged that the reaction of the FIA (which will publish its investigation on the subject of the crane) has been positive.
“I am not going to quote anything on behalf of Mohammed,” he clarified. “But everyone recognizes that definitely shouldn’t have happened. And I guess now it’s up to us to try to understand why it happened.”
“Obviously there are a lot of things that go into making those decisions. Obviously language barriers are one of them, between the stewards and the FIA. And as I said, we just have to understand and listen to their side of the story. I’m sure they already know our version.”
When Fernando Alonso was asked, the two-time champion said: “I read that the FIA was preparing something to explain it to us as well. So yeah, we’ll see. I didn’t see the crane at all in any of the laps I did. I just saw the Carlos’ car on the second lap”.
“Visibility looks very different on TV, to be honest. Then I watched the race and you could see more or less, but in the car it’s very difficult to explain how little you see.
Returning to Russell, when asked how the communication with Ben Sulayem is, he added: “I think personally my relationship with Mohammed is very strong. And we are in communication every two weeks, whenever there is an issue.”
“But we are certainly working to achieve greater transparency, whether it is in terms of the cost limit or the destination of the fines and their distribution.”
“We’ve been assured of transparency. And I think that’s important for the growth of the sport, and more than ever now, with this cost cap issue. We just want to have that transparency, so we can all move forward.”