F1 has defended the broadcasting decisions made in the wake of Romain Grosjean’s horrific crash after Daniel Ricciardo slammed TV coverage of the incident as “disgusting”.
Grosjean suffered burns to his hands and is recovering in hospital after the shocking crash at the Bahrain Grand Prix, which saw his car split in half and burst into flames as it hammered into the safety barriers at 225km/h.
The race was stopped before being restarted later and Ricciardo was furious the terrifying crash received so much airtime.
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The Aussie driver said it was a “cold blooded” decision to show replays of Grosjean leaping out of his car as it was engulfed by flames, accusing F1 of showing no regard for the Haas star’s family.
“The way the incident of Grosjean was broadcast over and over, the replays over and over, it was completely disrespectful and inconsiderate for his family, for all of our families watching,” Ricciardo told Dutch broadcaster Ziggo.
“We’re going to go race again in an hour and every time we look on the TV it’s a ball of fire and his car’s cut in half.
“I mean we can see that tomorrow, we don’t need to see it today.
“For me, it was entertainment and they’re playing with all of our emotions and I thought it was pretty disgusting.”
However, F1 defended its handling of the crash, rejecting the notion it placed entertainment value first and saying all protocols were followed.
Speaking to Motorsport.com, a spokesman for the governing body confirmed no replays were broadcast until it was clear Grosjean was safe and no marshals were injured.
“Firstly, at F1 this isn’t about entertainment and a few procedures and protocols are in place before any decision to run a replay is made,” the spokesman said. “Following an accident, all onboards, helicopter feeds etc are cut. There are direct comms between race control and the broadcast centre.
“No footage is shown until there is confirmation that the driver is OK. On this occasion at this point F1 showed Romain with the ambulance, helmet off and walking with aid.
“No replays of an accident are shown until there is approval and confirmation from race control/FIA that all persons are safe. Replays then started.
“The context of what a viewer sees and hears with the commentary is important, with them talking about the safety of Romain, the halo, FIA safety improvements, and updates from the medical centre.
“There is constant dialogue between F1, FIA /race control, and sound judgment on viewers, families and those affected.”
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Ricciardo said he would be disappointed if other drivers didn’t share his view, while Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said after the race the sport is still wrestling with the dilemma of being transparent with fans in troubling moments.
“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,” he said.
Responding to Ricciardo’s criticism, Grosjean’s boss at Haas, Gunther Steiner, said he was OK with replays being shown once it was established the Frenchman was safe.
“You can have two opinions here, but my opinion is if it ended lucky, and nothing bad happened, why not show it to make sure people understand?” Steiner said.
“Yeah it was bad, but everybody is OK. That was how to deal with it. We wanted to get the news out as soon as possible to the people, Romain is OK guys, just because it’s difficult to contact family, friends, people who know us, people of the team. If we sent one message via TV and something like this, it’s much more powerful.
“I think showing it and showing him jumping out, yeah, it looks a little bit and it is dramatic, but it ended good. So long as it ends good, I’m fine.
“For sure, 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.”
Grosjean has provided updates on his condition from hospital, posting videos and photos on Instagram thanking people for their kind messages and reassuring everyone he is doing fine.
The 34-year-old is expected to be discharged from hospital on Wednesday (AEDT) but will sit out next weekend’s grand prix, also in Bahrain.