Niki Lauda believes the FIA took the right safety precautions during the running of the Japanese Grand Prix despite Jules Bianchi's accident.
Bianchi was taken to hospital after he spun off at Turn 7 and hit a movable crane which was recovering Adrian Sutil's Sauber. Sutil had aquaplaned off the circuit amid increasing rain and himself said the safety car should have been deployed as a result
. However, while Lauda acknowledged the grand prix could have started earlier he believes the way the FIA handled the race was correct.
“At the start with the safety car there was nothing wrong,” Lauda said. “You can't say anything was done wrong. It was started in the most sensible way, and this is what they did.”
Asked if the safety car should have been deployed after Sutil's accident, Lauda said he felt the decision at the time was the right one.
“It's very difficult to answer because the Sutil accident was way off the line. Under normal circumstances we would not discuss it. The car was picked up right away and the corner that you park the car was very close, so I think from this point of view the decision was right. But if you ask me now, in the end it was wrong.”
And Lauda also said it would be wrong to criticise the race organisers for not moving the start of the race earlier with heavy rain forecast as Typhoon Phanfone approached.
“To say after the race it would have been better is fine, but in the end the rain was not the real issue of the race. There were safety cars [used] and the race was run safe more or less to the end. So it could have been run to the end without the accident, so the darkness I don't think was an issue here.”
Lauda added that he felt the right precautions had been taken to ensure driver safety throughout the race, saying Bianchi's incident was the result of a combination of circumstances.
“Motor racing is dangerous. We get used to it if something happens and then suddenly we are all surprised. We always have to be aware that motor racing is very dangerous and this accident today is the coming together of various different things; one car goes off, the truck comes out and then the next car goes off, so this is very unfortunate.”