Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel found little reason to absolve the FIA of the mistake it made in Saturday’s Q2 qualifying segment in Turkey when drivers were sent out while a crane remained in operation on the track.
The recovery vehicle was in the process of evacuating the stranded Williams of Nicholas Latifi at Istanbul Park’s Turn 8.
The Q2 wet session which had previously been halted resumed, but the crane had not yet been placed out of harm’s way. Drivers were warned to approach the corner with caution by double waved yellow flags.
FIA race director Michael Masi later explained that the session had been given the green light because race control had been informed that the recovery vehicle would be gone by the time cars reached Turn 8.
Unfortunately that was not the case, and Vettel – a director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association – said that he intended to address the issue at the next drivers’ briefing.
“I think we are all humans, and mistakes happen,” said Vettel. “But this mistake has a zero tolerance.
“I think we’re all well aware and I’m very confident that it will not happen in the future again. But we will for sure talk about this and disclose the reasons why.”
Vettel’s Ferrari teammate Charles Leclerc echoed the German’s view.
“For the crane, obviously, I think we have all been a bit shocked to see that,” he said. “And we’ll probably speak together at the next briefing to avoid these types of situations.
“There is no need to say what happened in the past with these sorts of situations. So yeah, I think it shouldn’t happen, and we need to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”
The incident obviously sparked memories of the tragic fate that befell Jules Bianchi at Suzuka in 2014, when the Marussia driver veered off course in the rain and collided with a mobile crane that was removing another car.
Despite the drivers’ criticism of the FIA’s call, Masi declared himself “fully comfortable” with the decision to resume the session based on the information available at the time.
“It was quite close to the barrier opening, and the crane was on its way,” said Masi. “We were given assurances that it would be well and truly clear. And looking at everything, I was more than comfortable with the local assurances on that basis.
“With the benefit of hindsight, you would do something different. But based on it all, and the available information at the time, that was the call that we made.”
Read also: Drivers baffled by recovery vehicle on track at start of Q2
Masi nevertheless recognized the need for the procedure to be reviewed in order to avoid a similar mistake in the future.
“From an FIA perspective, we review every incident that takes place,” said the Australian. “Be it minor, major, in between or otherwise, at any point in time during a session, outside of a session, and continually learn from everything that takes place.
“So from that handbook, we will continue to learn. It’s no different to a team learning about different elements over a weekend and in between.
“We are absolutely no different. And from our end, as I’ve said many times, safety is our number one priority and you learn from everything, every time a car rolls out of pit lane, every time you look at something different.”
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