October 07, 2014

Bianchi Update II

We've gotten more information on Jules Bianchi's condition via the medical center in Japan.  He is still unconscious, he is indeed on a ventilator, and he suffered a "diffuse axonal injury."  According to Dr Gary Hartstein, who was part of F1's traveling medical team until 2012, this type of injury is radically different from what Michael Schumacher suffered.  In this case, "diffuse" means that there isn't a specific point-source of damage a hematoma, for example; in effect the entire brain is injured somehow because there's no obvious injury anywhere.  "Axonal" means it hurt the axon cells that actually conduct information around the brain.  He's listed as being in critical but stable condition.

So, the good news is that it appears Bianchi's helmet wasn't penetrated during the wreck.  The unfortunate news is that, as a result, nobody knows just what's wrong, exactly.  Prognosis for DAI is usually quite bad... however, readers of this blog actually are familiar with at least one person who have recovered from from this same type of injury: Richard Hammond, "Hamster", one of the presenters from Top Gear.  When he rolled the jet dragster and wound up with his head dragging along at 230mph, he suffered a DAI as well.  He woke up after five days, and had a complete recovery except for a new taste for celery.

Now, for the elephant in the room.  Very late Sunday night/early Monday morning, amateur video of Bianchi's wreck surfaced.  Shot from across the track with a pretty decent zoom lens, it shows nearly everything one could possibly want to see except for how the accident began.  Under normal circumstances, I would embed the video and leave it at that, but this is a special situation; it's graphic and unsettling and I wouldn't want anybody to watch it who didn't make the decision to do so themselves.  So instead, I'm going to link to the video at liveleak, and a very good quality gif.  Watch either one, but do understand that they should probably be considered NSFL.  I know my stomach got really tight when I first saw it, but I made the decision to do so for the readers of my F1U!s.  I was also struck by the irony that the thing that likely kept Bianchi alive was that the recovery vehicle had Sutil's Sauber "on the hook", thus moving the center of gravity forward and allowing for some amount of swivel when the Marussia hit.  Of course, if Sutil hadn't've wrecked, the recovery vehicle wouldn't have been where it was, but that's beside the point.  As it is, he had quite a bit of speed going at impact (someone over at reddit calculated it at around 95mph), so if he hit the tire barrier instead it would have been a nasty accident anyway... but not as bad as what we ended up with.

The teams have moved on to Sochi.  More news as it becomes available.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 02:55 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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1 I know you said we should be thinking positive thoughts, but I can't do it. I fear the worst.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 07, 2014 07:52 PM (+rSRq)

2 There's so much we don't know about his condition that it's so hard to say anything one way or another, but the second paragraph of the wikipedia entry for DAI makes for... depressing reading.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 07, 2014 08:43 PM (BCjxQ)

3

With both Sutil and Bianchi wrecking on the same corner, I wonder if the owners of Suzuka will change it?

I read that there was water pooled on the track, and both cars lost control by hydroplaning. That means someone didn't work out the drainage problem properly.

A different question is whether the judges should have called off the race earlier. Before Bianchi's crash reportedly a couple of the drivers were on the radio complaining about safety (Massa?).

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 07, 2014 11:19 PM (+rSRq)

4 To be fair, Massa was complaining about the conditions being too wet when everybody else was saying they could (and did!) switch to Inters.  He's never been very good in the rain, so take what he says with a grain of salt.

As far as changing the actual track because of this incident, probably, almost certainly, not.  It's been around since 1962, and I'm fairly sure there isn't much room to reprofile the turn in any case.  The pit lanes are close behind the barriers, for example.

Posted by: Wonderduck at October 08, 2014 11:08 AM (BCjxQ)

5 I don't mean changing the horizontal shape of the track so much as raising or lowering that section of it so it doesn't become a river during the rain.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at October 08, 2014 11:31 AM (+rSRq)

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