Former world champion Emerson Fittipaldi is part of a high level panel to propose new safety measures after the Japan Grand Prix crash that left French driver Jules Bianchi fighting for his life.
The 10-member group, which will also include renowned former Formula One team chief Ross Brawn, will make recommendations by early December, the International Automobile Federation (FIA) governing body said.
Bianchi’s Marussia car smashed into a recovery vehicle on the drenched Suzuka track on October 5 leaving the 25-year-old with life threatening brain injuries. Bianchi is still in intensive care in a Japanese hospital and a communique released by his team and family last week said he was in “a critical but stable” condition.
The investigation panel “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,” an FIA statement said.
The group will start work this week and present its findings at the next meeting of the World Motor Sport Council on December 3 in Doha, it added. FIA president Jean Todt announced five days after the crash that a panel would investigate the crash.
The inquiry is to be chaired by Peter Wright, president of the FIA safety commission, and include heavyweight Formula One names such as two-time drivers’ champion Fittipaldi, who still heads the FIA drivers’ commission.
Brawn helped Ferrari win several titles as technical director and stood down as Mercedes team principal at the end of last year. Former Ferrari team leader Stefano Domenicali is in the group along with former driver Alex Wurz, chief racing steward Gerd Ennser, Eduardo de Freitas, World Endurance Championship racing director, circuits commission chief Roger Peart, FIA court of appeal judge Antonio Rigozzi, and Gerard Saillant, president of the FIA medical medical commission.
The Japan Grand Prix went ahead in heavy rain after a typhoon battered part of the country. A film of the accident showed one driver Adrian Sutil aquaplane off the dry racing line, causing his Sauber to spin off the track. Bianchi appeared to do the same, but attempted to correct his slide and was pitched, nose-first into a collision with the heavy vehicle, carrying a crane to recover Sutil’s car.
Japan race director Charlie Whiting said that “not everybody slowed down” in response to yellow alert flags waved on the track. He said that Bianchi had slowed but refused to say by how much.
Whiting said the FIA was already considering ways to control cars in dangerous conditions, including an electronically controlled speed limit when yellow flags are in use. The FIA was also thinking of fitting “skirts” to all recovery vehicles to ensure it was impossible for cars to go beneath them, as Bianchi did, Whiting said.