The FIA is to look into the events surrounding Mark Webber's fiery retirement from Sunday's Grand Prix, after admitting that race control had called for the fire marshall to scramble a response to the scene of the burning Red Bull
at turn 3.
That resulted in a fire truck driving onto the track at turn 1 even as the cars were coming down the start/finish straight still at some speed, as the safety car had not yet had an opportunity to pick up and pace the race leaders.
The incident began when Adrian Sutil's Force India
spun and collided with the side of Mark Webber's car at the hairpin. The impact burst an oil radiator, and the heat then ignited the oil and caused a blaze to rapidly engulf the side and back of Webber's car as he pulled over to the side of the track.
Race director Charlie Whiting was reportedly alarmed by the scenes he was viewing on the television and CCTV footage and by the delay in local safety workers getting to the scene to assist Webber in putting out the blaze, so he asked the fire marshall working in race control to send assistance to the track staff.
The marshall did so by scrambling a fire truck - but race control did not realise that it would be sent on the race track itself, right in front of the field of cars, and before the safety car could be deployed to control the situation.
Race leader Sebastian Vettel
was the first to come across the fire truck, which he immediately realised was not the safety car that he had been expecting.
"It was not Bernd Maylander's, so it was not the safety car," said Vettel. "I think it was a BMW
or - no, sorry, it looked like a BMW. I think it was a Hyundai or Kia SUV.
"Obviously then the team said 'yellow flag'," he said. "It wasn't quite clear that it was the safety car, but then the safety car board was flashing and I lifted and obviously saw that there was another car on the track, took quite easy to make sure I got past.
"I didn't know what the incident was until I saw the smoke and so on," he added. "Obviously they said there was a crash."
"Sebastian was the first to come across it, but with the straight being so long there he thankfully had enough pre-warning to know that he was there," said Vettel's boss, Red Bull
team principal Christian Horner. "But if it had been unsighted it would have been a bit more dramatic.
"Thankfully it happened on part of the track where there was plenty of time for the drivers to react," he pointed out.