Twenty years after the death of Ayrton Senna, Formula One awoke yesterday from a sleepless night in Suzuka to face a barrage of questions on Grand Prix safety

Twenty years after the death of Ayrton Senna, Formula One awoke yesterday from a sleepless night in Suzuka to face a barrage of questions on Grand Prix safety.

In the wake of Jules Bianchi's life-threatening accident in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix, it was the most intense scrutiny the sport has faced since 1994 when Austrian Roland Ratzenberger and Brazilian Senna lost their lives on successive days at the San Marino Grand Prix. The questions were clear: Why was a motorised safety crane deployed in an exposed run-off area in torrential rain while the cars continued racing?

Why was the race not red-flagged and halted immediately after Adrian Sutil's initial crash at the place where Bianchi also aquaplaned off the circuit?

And, given the advance forecasts of dreadful weather arriving with Typhoon Phanfone, why was the race schedule not advanced to avoid the storms that made the track so treacherous?

The answers were reluctant and unclear, as drivers and pundits avoided pinning the blame on the organisers.

Jackie Stewart and Niki Lauda, both three-time champions and who survived huge accidents, and Max Mosley, former president of the International Motoring Federation (FIA), said the ruling body and race organisers had done all they could and should not be blamed.

Mosley described Bianchi's crash as a "freak accident" and told Sky Sports News that he "cannot fault any of the people involved". He explained that advancing the race start was not a solution because it was unclear precisely when bad weather would arrive.

Williams driver Valtteri Bottas joined the call for an explanation of why a recovery vehicle was on the circuit in a dangerous place.

"It's easy to say afterwards but it's worth a good look to see if we can learn from it," he said.

Another question must be asked: Why do F1 cars not have cockpits to protect drivers from head injuries?

Car safety has progressed rapidly since 1994, enabling drivers to survive unharmed in accidents that would previously have been serious or fatal, but open cockpits mean drivers' heads remain unprotected.

As the F1 circus heads to Sochi for Sunday's inaugural Russian Grand Prix, Bianchi's fight for life should stimulate a new look at the introduction of cockpits and an overhaul of the safety procedures for racing in torrential rain.