Bernie Ecclestone has suggested that Romain Grosjean be subjected to a series of tests to determine whether he is suffering from problems with his vision following a series of start-line accidents in 2012.
Although not necessarily responsible for all of them, the Frenchman has been involved in no fewer than seven first lap accidents since returning to the top flight as GP2 Series champion, and was forced to miss the Italian Grand Prix after his part in a first corner pile-up that removed championship contenders Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton from the Belgian Grand Prix in early September.
Although Singapore passed off without incident, Grosjean again attracted the wrath of his rivals when he collected Mark Webber at turn one in Japan last weekend, although the incident did not appear to be the result of over-ambition, rather that Grosjean's attention was taken by another car as he looked for space.
While the Lotus driver escaped further censure, F1 ringmaster Ecclestone has questioned whether there may be an underlying medical reason for his involvement in so many similar incidents.
"Lotus should take him away and get all the tests done," Ecclestone was quoted by Britain's Times
newspaper in the build-up to this weekend's Korean GP, "It seems to me that he is a very fast driver, but seems to have trouble in seeing what is around him.
“A lot of what has happened to him this season has involved not being able to react to things happening in his peripheral vision. That could be the problem. If it was up to me, I would have him stand down for a grand prix, send him for every test and be sure that his eyesight was okay. It could be that simple."
Peripheral vision is the part of vision that occurs outside the main focus of gaze, although there are various areas of view included under the broader term. The loss of peripheral vision is commonly referred to as 'tunnel vision'.
Much as Ecclestone would like to see Grosjean tested for potential loss of peripheral vision, it could prove hard to determine to what extent it is a problem, as there is no way of separating what is detected by the eye from what is observed by neural processing in. It is not possible to directly observe what the brain understands, and research is largely based on perception tests carried out by requesting test subjects to focus on an object in front of them and then flashing lights at increasing distances away from the centre of vision.
All race drivers have to pass medicals that include meeting specified eyesight standards. The requirements for a national
licence include 'minimum corrected visual acuity of 6/6 with both eyes open', 'minimum binocular field should measure at least 120 degrees along the horizontal meridian with no defects within the central 20 degrees' and restrictions on those suffering double vision, colour blindness and the loss of sight in one eye, although the latter is subject to a five-year adaption period before being able to apply for a licence.