Daniel Ricciardo said he was “disgusted and disappointed” Formula 1 showed so many replays of Romain Grosjean’s sickening Bahrain Grand Prix crash, accusing the coverage of “fucking with everyone’s emotions”.
Grosjean speared into a metal barrier at the start of the race and the impact split his Haas in half and triggered a fiery explosion.
Somehow Grosjean was able to get out of the car on his own and though he will spend the night in hospital with burns on his hands, he appears to have escaped serious injury.
F1 avoided showing any footage of the accident at first while the consequences of the crash were established.
But once Grosjean was receiving medical attention and his condition was safe, various replays were deployed including Grosjean’s onboard – which cut out before the Haas hit the barrier – and a number of external shots showing the impact, the fire and Grosjean’s splintered car.
Ricciardo said after the race the crash is “all I want to talk about to be honest”, stating his happiness that Grosjean emerged without severe injuries but adding he is “disgusted and disappointed with Formula 1” for choosing to show the replays “as they did, and broadcast replays after replays after replays of the fire, his car split in half”.
“We are human beings racing and not objects” :: Sebastian Vettel
“And then, like that’s not enough, they go to his onboard,” said Ricciardo.
“Why do we need to see this? We’re competing again in an hour, his family has to keep watching that, all our families have to keep watching that. And you’re fucking with everyone’s emotions.
“It’s really unfair, it’s not entertainment. I had a lot of rage. I still do. And it was just very, very poorly handled and felt like a game, and it’s not.
“We’re lucky he’s here and it could’ve been a different story.
“To show it like it’s something from Hollywood, it’s not cool. Choose to do that tomorrow, but not today.”
An F1 spokesperson argued that this “isn’t about entertainment” and was part of applying “context” to the information viewers have witnessed and are hearing from the commentary.
They outlined the procedure F1 follows in such circumstances, starting with cutting helicopter feeds and onboard cameras and maintaining director communication between race control and the broadcast centre.
Until race control confirms the driver is OK, no footage will be shown at all. Once Grosjean was seen to have escaped serious injury, replays began but F1 says dialogue continues to be maintained between itself and race control with a view to making a “sound judgement on viewers, families and those affected”.
F1’s handling of the footage was also defended by Grosjean’s Haas team boss Guenther Steiner.
“My opinion is it ended lucky and nothing bad happened, so why not show it to make sure people understand?” said Steiner when asked by The Race for his view on the use of replays.
“I’m not an expert in TV ethics but in my opinion, a good thing was shown” :: Guenther Steiner
“Yeah it was bad, but everybody is OK. That was how we wanted to deal with it, we wanted to get the news out as soon as possible to people – ‘Romain is OK guys’ – because it’s difficult to contact all the family, friends.
“If we can send one message via TV and stuff like this, this is much more powerful.
“I think showing it and showing him jumping out, yeah it is dramatic, but it ended good. As long as things end good then fine.
“If something bad happens it shouldn’t be shown.
“I’m not an expert in TV ethics but in my opinion, a good thing was shown.
“It was a bad accident, but we got lucky. Everything ended OK, I wouldn’t say good because things like this don’t end good. It’s just OK.”
Ricciardo suggested in another post-race interview that he’d be surprised if all the other drivers didn’t feel the same way.
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel shared Ricciardo’s frustration. The Ferrari driver said he tried to see the replays as little as possible.
“I disagree with the fact that you have to show the images over and over again,” he said.
“We are human beings racing and not objects.
“I was watching the screen because I wanted to see what happens. Once I saw it, I was trying to avoid it” :: Valtteri Bottas
“I know that people like cars being on fire and crashes and it’s exciting.
“But maybe something we can learn as well is that we don’t need to repeat showing these images.”
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said he understood the curiosity but indicated a line may have been crossed with the extent of the replays shown.
“When there’s a crash, when it ends up being OK for the drivers, they always like to repeat those because I feel like people, spectators, want to see it,” said Bottas.
“But there’s a limit as well. If it had been a fraction different there would have been no way for him to get out of the car.
“There’s a limit on it. I was watching the screen because I wanted to see what happens. Once I saw it, I was trying to avoid it, but it was playing on the replay everywhere.
“Maybe it’s a question for all the people watching, the fans, if they want to see 20 repeats of that or not.
“I’m not going to answer it but I was trying to avoid it.”
While some of the top drivers to speak about the issue were aggrieved by the extent of the images replayed, leading team bosses Toto Wolff and Christian Horner were more understanding.
Mercedes chief Wolff said it was a way for F1 to control the narrative around the crash and handle it better.
“I think in the modern world you’re not able to hide anything anymore,” he said.
“If FOM is not showing it, then somebody else is going to have a mobile phone there and film it.
“You need to be transparent. Those images were frightening and graphic.
“But if you’re not transparent as an organisation you’re just taking the risk that somebody else shows stuff that is beyond your control.”
Horner said the replays would not have been so prominent if Grosjean had been significantly injured.
“Motor racing is dangerous and I’m sure that accident will be on the front page of numerous newspaper around the world and we’ll have world headlines,” said Horner.
“Formula 1 is a dangerous sport that’s why these drivers are so special – that they have the ability to get back into a car, and race flat out after an incident like that.
“That’s always been the case with Formula 1 and I think what’s very fortunate about the incident today is that the driver’s survived it relatively unscathed.
“Pre-halo, even only two or three years ago, it would have been unthinkable.”