We’ve been given a summary of the Bianchi investigation, and the 300-some-odd page report has been condensed to what looks approximately like 1.5 A4 pages.
Over 300 pages to less than 2. Holy crap. Either there are a hell of a lot of wasted words in the full text, or someone has really mastered the art of the resumé.
I can’t say much about the reasons behind not releasing the full text of the report, but it is clear that the credibility of the conclusions, such as they are, is not helped by the absence of corroborating background.
In addition, when we look at the composition of the panel, we realise that fully HALF the members have a clear and unambiguous conflict of interest in any investigation. The current positions, and indeed future careers in motorsport, of those panel members who are not dear personal friends of the FIA president depend intimately on remaining in his good graces. Mind you, I am not impugning the integrity of anyone. That’s what’s so insidious with conflicts of interest. They only have to exist to have their negative effects.
This of course rang alarm bells when the panel was formed, but courtesy, decorum and respect no doubt calmed the chuckling at the idea of a body investigating itself. I fear that chuckling was perfectly appropriate.
Let’s get a bit more specific.
The primary conclusion, that Jules was driving too fast, is, as I’ve said before, true by definition. I’m surprised at the reactions of those who feel that this is somehow unfair, unjust, or unkind. It is none of these. Young men make mistakes of judgement all the time, and some pay a grievous price for it. That is the case here. The technical details of BBW and FailSafe are just that – details.
I smiled when I read:
It is considered fundamentally wrong to try and make an impact between a racing car and a large and heavy vehicle survivable. It is imperative to prevent a car ever hitting the crane and/or the marshals working near it.
Suppose they’d said that 60 years ago about Armco? We’d not have developed the know-how that led to 6-row tire barriers with conveyor belting, and we’d certainly not have Techpro. I wonder what would’ve happened to my friend Perez in Monaco a few years ago? Actually, I KNOW what would have happened to him. Ironic, isn’t it? Somehow both goals stated in that quote seem worthy of pursuit; neither do they appear mutually exclusive.
Now it gets a bit complicated. You see, the entire summary (and therefore presumably the report itself, but we have no way of knowing that) is focused on the events leading up to the accident. There would appear to be no attempt to look at those elements of the response that are there to mitigate the consequences AFTER the event has occurred. And now I start to get rather uncomfortable.
We are told:
All rescue and medical procedures were followed, and their expediency are considered to have contributed significantly to the saving of Bianchi’s life.
The first part of this statement is patently untrue. Egregiously. The self congratulatory second part, while certainly true, is inappropriate.
Bear with me, and struggle through this excerpt from the Appendix H of the FIA’s own International Sporting Code (that concerned with “Supervision of the Road and Rescue Services”).
An evacuation under intensive care by medically equipped ambulance (equipment and presence of a doctor proficient in resuscitation on board) with an escort may, however, be carried out, provided that the receiving hospital has been approved beforehand for the treatment presumed necessary according to the casualty’s condition and that it can be reached in approximately 20 minutes (except for serious burns), regardless of the weather and road traffic conditions (except in a case of force majeure). If these conditions are not satisfied, the timed session must be interrupted.
d) Unforseen circumstances, especially the weather, may prevent the arrival, departure or return of the helicopter. In such a case, and after consultation between:
- the Chief Medical Officer;
– the Race Director; and
– the FIA Medical Delegate;
an ongoing or interrupted timed session may perhaps continue or be resumed depending on the conditions of evacuation of a casualty under intensive care to one of the hospitals mentioned in the medical questionnaire for the event and approved by the FIA Medical Delegate.
We were told at the Sochi press conference that the evacuation took 40 minutes. Twice the 20 minute upper boundary that THE FORMULA ONE MEDICAL DELEGATE HIMSELF HAD WRITTEN INTO THE REGS.
We were also told at Sochi that Jules’ condition at the end of that waterlogged siren-punctuated ambulance ride to the hospital was exactly the same as when he left the circuit. Are you kidding me?
Don’t get me wrong. I have no doubt that my Japanese colleagues were indeed able to make sure that Jules’ blood pressure, heart rate, oxygen saturation, expired carbon dioxide, etc (the EXTERNAL parameters, the ones we measure easily) were unchanged over 40 minutes.
But find the nearest neurosurgeon and ask him if the brain of a patient who’s had a head injury with immediate coma is the same after 40 minutes of transport as after 20 minutes, and he’ll look at you like you were nuts. Because you are.
Why did Dr. Saillant not address the question of EXACTLY when the Medical Delegate (his personal appointee) knew that the helicopter could not land at the receiving hospital? Under difficult circumstances this often requires near real time communication with the helicopter crew. The delegate is up in race control with nothing else to do during the race. That’s why he’s there. Why was racing not stopped? This is far from a trivial issue, and is all the more dramatic that the FIA’s own regulations would appear to have been ignored by their author, the Medical Delegate.
This is a potentially grievous error, and it is all the more shocking that the question is not even addressed. And unfortunately this is precisely the kind of result one would expect with a panel studded with insiders.