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FIA must shift priorities to avoid F1 revolt after Suzuka scandal

FIA must shift priorities to avoid F1 revolt after Suzuka scandal

FIA must shift priorities to avoid F1 revolt after Suzuka scandal

FIA must shift priorities to avoid F1 revolt after Suzuka scandal

Horrific reminders of the 2014 Jules Bianchi crash at Suzuka that claimed the life of the talented Frenchman were triggered in an unacceptable incident at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Pierre Gasly was left incandescent after passing a recovery vehicle in treacherous conditions at exactly the same circuit as his countryman lost his life eight years ago.

But despite all of the safety learnings that came from that dark day, somehow the circuit officials and FIA race control allowed a more dangerous situation to arise.

This feels like the last straw for an FIA officiating group that has been in the limelight more than seems permissible this season.

Recovery vehicle makes mockery of FIA safety push

Aside from the fact we could have been reporting on a fatal incident on Sunday, which in itself is, of course, enough to be livid over, the situation has gone against everything the governing body has strived for in its ideology all season.

The most obvious is the jewellery saga that still managed to rear its head again in Singapore.

Drivers, despite being grown human beings who choose whether to race in such a dangerous sport, putting their lives on the line week in, week out to do what they love, were told they could not wear any jewellery when driving for safety reasons.

This came despite former drivers, including Romain Grosjean, suggesting metallic objects had actually protected them in fires.

'Underwear-gate' was also mocked when the clampdown arrived - again on safety grounds - with even diplomat-of-the-grid Sebastian Vettel taking aim with a humourous protest.

It is baffling, therefore, there can be such a tight restraint on safety when the FIA want to impose a feeling of power over its competitors, yet there is a complete disregard to welfare when it comes to the on-track action.

In fairness, the marshals could have acted rogue, which has happened in previous seasons across various different scenarios. But where was the communication from race control to teams and drivers to warn of the vehicle on track?

There was also a marshal near the crane acting as ballast on Carlos Sainz's Ferrari. Where was the thought for his well-being?

FIA risking revolt

The issues did not stop with the recovery vehicle, though.

After a long rain delay, the race got back underway with three laps behind the safety car.

Two laps into that period, drivers in the midfield reported a lack of visibility and that the FIA should take more time before restarting the race proper.

So, of course, the signal instantly came to restart the race immediately.

What we did get was a dramatic 45-minute sprint to the end and the track condition itself was good enough for racing.

But what is the point of asking for advice from drivers with the experience of Valtteri Bottas and Daniel Ricciardo and then blatantly ignoring them?

Post-race, rarely do you see a driver as heated as Gasly. Yes, he is not entirely innocent as he should not have been travelling at the speed he was when passing the scene of Sainz's crash.

But he was absolutely correct with his remarks because the pain of losing Bianchi - the only F1 driver to lose his life in a race since Ayrton Senna in 1994 - remains raw for many on the grid.

Sergio Perez labelled the incident F1's lowest moment in years, the Mexican "angry" at the danger the drivers were placed in.

There will be pushback from the drivers on this, and rightly so.

A thorough investigation has been launched by the FIA but the fact is this isn't the first time this has happened in recent memory either - a week before in Singapore drivers passed a tractor in wet-dry conditions.

Where are the FIA's priorities? If it is jewellery and underwear and not on-track safety, then F1 faces a scandal.

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