Formula 1 had defended the decision to show extensive replays of Romain Grosjean’s accident in the Bahrain Grand Prix following criticism from Daniel Ricciardo.
Grosjean’s own team boss Gunther Steiner has also supported the coverage, saying it was important for people at home to know what had happened.
After the initial live shot showing Grosjean’s Haas car exploding after crashing at Turn 3 at the start of the Bahrain GP, nothing was broadcast until the Frenchman was seen sitting in the FIA medical car being attended to by Dr Ian Roberts.
Even though it was clear that the driver was safe there were still no replays until it was ascertained that no marshals had been injured in the accident.
Once that was confirmed the TV director filled much of the long gap before the restart with replays of the crash and Grosjean’s escape from his fiery Haas F1 car, as well as coverage of the barrier rebuilding activity at the scene, with drivers watching from the pitlane while preparing for the restart.
“I want to express my disgust and disappointment with F1,” he said.
“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.
“For me, it was entertainment and they’re playing with all of our emotions and I thought it was pretty disgusting.”
A spokesman for the F1 organisation said that established protocols had been followed, and that there was no coverage until it was clear that there were no serious injuries.
“Firstly, at F1 this isn’t about entertainment and a few procedures and protocols are in place before any decision to run a reply is made,” he said.
“Following an accident all onboards, helicopter feeds etc are cut. There is 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 – driver, marshals and doctors. 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 judgement on viewers, families and those affected.”
Asked about Ricciardo’s criticism, Steiner said that TV coverage was the best way to get across the fact that Grosjean was safe.
“You can have two opinions here,” he said.
“But my opinion is if it ended lucky, and nothing bad happened, why not show it to make sure people understand?
“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, 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 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.
“It was a bad accident, but we got lucky and everything ended OK. I wouldn’t say good, because things like this don’t end good. It was just OK.”
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