FORMER world champion Jacques Villeneuve has called for Formula One to tighten up safety rules following the crash that left Marussia driver Jules Bianchi in a critical condition.
Frenchman Bianchi, who suffered severe head injuries when his car ploughed into a recovery vehicle during Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix, was still “critical but stable” yesterday, 24 hours after undergoing emergency surgery.
Villeneuve, who won the drivers’ championship in 1997, believes a safety car should always be sent out – preventing drivers from racing temporarily – in the event of a crash in order to prevent freak collisions with trucks removing stricken cars from trackside.
“The rules have to be changed concerning the safety car,” said the Canadian. “When I was racing, and afterwards, I was always saying that any time there is an accident there should be a safety car.
“There should not be room for judgement. If someone has to go out to pick up a car stranded on the track, it’s simple. Accident? Safety car, and that’s it. It should have been like that for years.”
The recovery vehicle hit by Bianchi was trackside at Suzuka because Sauber’s Adrian Sutil had aquaplaned one lap earlier, causing him to spin off and hit a tyre wall.
Marussia yesterday issued a statement asking fans for patience and thanking them for messages of support for Bianchi, who was schooled at Ferrari and is in his second season as an F1 driver.
“With regard to the communication of information concerning Jules’ medical condition, we will respect, and be guided by, the wishes of the Bianchi family. Together with Jules’ care, they will remain our highest priority,” the team said.
“Therefore, we would ask for patience and understanding with regard to further medical updates, which will be communicated in conjunction with the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi, where Jules is being treated, when they feel it is appropriate.
“Representatives of the Marussia F1 Team and Scuderia Ferrari will remain at the hospital to support Jules and the Bianchi family.”