Sebastian Vettel said that he absolutely did not tolerate the error of FIA race director Michael Masi during qualifying for the Turkish Grand Prix, where the second session took place while a spare crane was still in one of the starting positions.
The crane recovered Williams Nicholas Latifi from a gravel bed in turn 8 after a wet crash at the end of the first qualifying session.
Under normal circumstances, the second session did not start until all evacuation vehicles had left the circuit, but Masi said the confusion between the marshal and the race director meant that the session started before the circuit was completed.
Double yellow flags were displayed at the scene to warn drivers to slow down, but Vettel said that such monitoring should not be possible in a modern Formula 1 car.
I think we’re all human, mistakes happen, but this mistake has zero tolerance, Vettel said. So I think we all know this very well and I hope and trust that it won’t happen again in the future. But I’m sure we’ll talk about it and find out why.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Qualifying conditions were slippery because of the wet track and the new asphalt. Cleve Mason/Getty Images
The incident had an alarming resemblance to the accident with Jules Bianchi at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, where the French rider suffered a serious head injury that led to his death nine months later.
The incident took place during a race in which the salvage vehicle was sent under a double yellow flag to take the Sauber Adriana Sutila off the gravel road, just enough for Bianchi to lose control in the rain and fall into a crane.
Acting Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc, the godchild of Bianchi, said it was shocking that such an error would repeat itself in Turkey.
As for the crane, I think we were all a bit shocked when we saw it, he said. We’ll probably talk about it together at the next briefing to try to avoid such a situation.
There’s no need to talk about what happened in the past in situations like this, I don’t think it should happen, and we’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.
This is the second time in so many race weekends that an error by the race management has led to a dangerous situation on the track.
During the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix the drivers were allowed to lean behind the safety car while the marshals were still clearing the rubbish from the track.
The end result is a series of cars that overtake the marshal at a speed close to that of the race, while the correct procedure is to see all the marshals leave the track before the cars sit behind the safety car.
Masi said that both incidents were being investigated and that lessons would be learned.
From the perspective of the FIA, we look at every incident that occurs, large or small, in or out of a meeting, and we are constantly learning from everything that is going on, he said when asked about the recent errors. We will continue to learn, and that’s no different than a team that learns other things at weekends and between weekends.
We are absolutely equal and, as I have said many times, safety is our top priority and we learn from everything, every time a car leaves the pit lane and every time we look at something else.
Masi spoke specifically about the recovery tap in Turkey: He was close enough to the gate opening and the crane was on its way. We were assured that it would be good and clear, and given all this I was more than satisfied with the local insurance on that basis.
With hindsight, you would have acted a little differently, but on the basis of the information available at the time of the interview. It was a double yellow flag anyway, no matter what a normal protocol if the machines are not on the track and this area has been further developed and is out of the round.