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Red Bull change pit stop procedure after German Grand Prix pit lane incident
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Posted By: James Allen  |  11 Jul 2013   |  6:35 pm GMT  |  90 comments

World champions Red Bull have changed their pit stop procedure after a loose rear wheel came off Mark Webber’s car in the pit lane during last Sunday’s German Grand Prix and injured an FOM television cameraman.

Paul Allen suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone and concussion but is expected to make a full recovery. Following the incident at the Nurburgring, Red Bull carried out an investigation.

The report, which was sent to governing body the FIA and the 10 other teams on the grid, revealed that Webber’s car was released prematurely because a “go” signal was sent accidentally by the right rear wheel man.

The right rear nut cross-threaded as the wheel went on. When the mechanic removed the nut to put another on, his wheel gun slipped in his hand and accidentally depressed a trigger that sent the “go” signal to the man on the front jack.

As a result, the car was cleared to leave the pits even though the rear wheel was not attached. The team said they would revise the wheel gun’s design to ensure the “go” signal could not be sent by accident.

The front jack man will also be instructed to hold the car in the event of any problem and only release it when given a signal that all wheels have been fitted and fastened in place. Red Bull’s pit stop current system has been in place for more than a year.

Red Bull’s procedural changes follow the FIA’s clampdown on the people who are allowed in the pit lane during a race weekend.

A ban has been put on anyone other than marshals and team personnel being allowed in the pit lane during qualifying session and the race.

And on Thursday, the BBC reported that rights holder FOM has told broadcasters that their personnel, including pit lane reporters and camera crews, will not be allowed in the pit lane during any session on “safety” grounds. Written journalists and photographers will still be permitted.

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90 Comments
  1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

    James,
    1. Can broadcasters keep a ROBOT in the pit lane?

    2. Can they get a TV-camara on a DRONE flying over the pit lane?

    3. Is Paul ALLEN your brother or relative?

    1. Anne says:

      Yes, they should allow C3PO and R2D2 in the pit lane

      :)

      1. hero_was_senna says:

        That’s just ridiculous, C3PO is camper than Elton John at a Liberace concert and R2D2 is a bin.
        Surely the only robot should be a T1000 or the classic Terminator…. I’ll be back! ;)

    2. Scott says:

      At the great Bathurst 1000 race (where I believe the in-car camera was invented) for V8Supercars in Australia, they’ve been using a camera on a wire for many years that flies the entire length of the pit lane. The question is: Is F1 Fan-Based enough to allow such a thing.

      1. Peruvian says:

        FIA is run by Dinosaurs… they are stuck in the 50s and unable to change their ways.
        A good example is what you are saying, cameras in a cable car, another one is to get rid of the air guns and air hoses, can’t they use battery power tools like a modern human does?.

      2. roberto marquez says:

        I am not sure if a battery tool has enough torque to do the job, maybe James could comment on this.

      3. Edmund says:

        Pneumatic wheel guns simply have much better performance both in terms of speed and power, they are not dated. For the same amount of torque they produce, an electric wheel gun would have to have a massive motor and battery which would be extremely unwieldy.

      4. DMBK says:

        Silverstone had one in the old pits a few years ago, think it was back in the ITV days. Don’t know why it got dropped!

      5. Tom says:

        V8 Supercars is real motor-sport.

        Not some over-priced marketing advertisement tool with primadonnas driving around to delta times…

        F1 20 years ago was the pinnacle of Motor sport, now its just commercialized rubbish.

      6. Mathew says:

        V8′s is the biggest prima-donna sport there is, its a spec driven formula just the same as NASCAR, its been to the detriment to motorsport in this country ( Aus ), since its inception, and the greedy little people who run it, just the same as F1.

        The same as F1, track owners are left scratching around for a living due to insane licensing fees, trackside facilities still reside in the 80′s, at best, and the same as F1, its now taking government funds to stage events.

        V8′s, a real motor-sport, it isn’t.

      7. Yak says:

        F1 already uses cameras on wires in places I think. That said, a camera on a wire going up and down pit lane isn’t going to be able to grab the same kind of shot as a bloke who’s right down next to the cars. It’s no different in V8SCs. They might run cameras on wires and whatever else, but they’ve also got camera folk and Larko running up and down pit lane and in and out of garages, seemingly with more freedom than their F1 counterparts have (or, ’til recently had). And on occasion, guys with cameras get run over.

        Then again, V8SCs isn’t exactly the pinnacle of regulatory excellence.

  2. Random 79 says:

    ‘The front jack man will also be instructed to hold the car in the event of any problem and only release it when given a signal that all wheels have been fitted and fastened in place’

    Was this not the case before? No wonder they have had problems…

    1. George says:

      Yeah I didn’t realise they were this automated, no wonder it seems so obvious to us viewers when something goes wrong but they don’t notice.

    2. John Baker says:

      That is absolute gold!

      1. Random 79 says:

        Cheers, I’m taking it to the 2014 Comment Olympics ;)

  3. Lee says:

    In future the new procedure will call for a minimum of 4 wheels to be firmly attached to the car replacing the previous arrangement where 3 was deemed acceptable.

    A spokesperson for RBR said “we feel that as tyres have become so crucial in F1 this season maximising the number attached to the car can only improve our performance.”

    A spokesman for the cameramen everywhere welcomed the change.

    1. Tornillo Amarillo says:

      Please be serious…

    2. Joshua says:

      Best comment i have read in ages

    3. Andrew Woodruff says:

      I heard that after trying the rear wheel left-right switch trick, Red Bull decided the Pirellis were so bad they might get more performance by leaving one off altogether.

      1. snailtrail says:

        Actually just before this wheel incident Vettel was on the team radio complaining that they were going to be short on tyres and could the team remove one from Webbers car

    4. Andrew C says:

      Funny enough, I also heard that, in addition to the spokespersons announcement, Horner gave these instructions below to the RBR crew earlier today:

      First shalt thou take out the Holy Wheel Gun.
      Then shalt thou count to four, no more, no less. Four shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be four. Five shalt thou not count, neither count thou three, excepting that thou then proceed to four. Five is right out. Once the number four, being the fourth number, be reached, then signal thou thy Holy Hand of completion towards thy jack man, who, being ready in my sight, shall remove the jack.

      1. David says:

        Excellent. But couldn’t you have worked a parrot in somewhere.
        David

      2. RodgerT says:

        “One, two, three, five”
        “Four Sire.”
        “Right, four.”
        (Releases jack)

    5. IP says:

      *snicker* +1

    6. Paul C says:

      I know that in recent years RBR have been more and more paranoid of rivals and god forbid F1 fans looking closely at their cars. And blocked the views of photographers and TV crews. Even so was it really necessary to fire a wheel from one of their cars towards a camera man??? On a positive note does this mean that we won’t be hearing so much from Ted Kravitz during the races if he can’t access the pit lane? ;-)

      The paragraph above is not meant to be taken too seriously and I wish Mr Allen a speedy recovery.

      1. SteveH says:

        Excellent, another human agrees with my Ted views. Thanks Paul!

      2. Paul C says:

        It’s only since his move to sky that he’s annoyed me so. Perhaps it’s more to do with the sky coverage in general? I’ve yet to work out Ant Davidsons value to their coverage. Also do they really need both Hill and Herbert? Crofty needs to calm down!!
        Saying that the bbc coverage isn’t perfect either. Although I like DC I still think he’s too close to RBR for my liking. Will never be a fan of theirs! Can you tell? Lol

      3. Clear View says:

        Me too, it’s the only thing that Sky need to address, they need a Gary Anderson type with hands on F1 engineering experience who really know the technical side at a far deeper level than anyone who hasn’t done the job can’t quite grasp.

        Ted you are the weekest link

        Good Bye

      4. JoeP says:

        Well I disagree re. Ted Kravitz and enjoy his reporting greatly.

    7. John Baker says:

      You should be in PR!

  4. MarkedOne8 says:

    ‘The front jack man will also be instructed to hold the car in the event of any problem and only release it when given a signal that all wheels have been fitted and fastened in place’

    This is just stupid bunch of words no matter who wrote them. I think it is logical and obvious. I think no front-jack man in world want to release the car without all tyres fitter OK. No? Also, what does this text is supposed to mean? I’m sure that front jack man wouln’t release the car in case he did know that the incident is about to happen.

    1. Brace says:

      Hahaha, yeah I was thinking that too. :)

    2. roberto marquez says:

      No matter how good the peripheral capacity to see has the front jack man ,is impossible for him to check four spots in 3 seconds, for that reason they make it automatic.And if he has to check incoming cars I wonder no more accidents have happened.

  5. sandman says:

    I wonder with all these changes, what will be the effect on pit strategies. Surely it benefits the lotus which can do 1 stop less.

  6. Monktonnik says:

    But what about Ted Kravitz?

    1. Wade Parmino says:

      It would seem he is out of a job.

  7. Kezz says:

    I don’t understand.

    If your holding a video camera your banned
    If your holding a photo camera your OK?

    If your holding a mic your banned
    If your holding a pen your OK?

    Am I missing something here?

    Or is all this just OTT and not thought out.

    Kezz

    1. Tim says:

      There allowed on the pit wall not on the pit lane.

    2. Dan says:

      It’s a good point.

      Obviously, as fans we enjoy the insight and access that we get from people like Ted Kravitz, so it’s a shame we might lose some of this.

      Maybe this has been comeing for a while though. Brundle has said on more than one occasion recently that the grid gets more crowded with each race.

      A couple of roving pit reporters back in the day may have been easily accomodated, but multiply that by RTL, SkyF1, SkyF1 Italy, Sky F1 Germany, BBC, Sky Sports News, Speed, ESPN … you get the picture, it makes for a very crowded pit lane.

      At some point enough is enough. But it would be a shame to completely lose this aspect of the TV coverage

      1. JoeP says:

        Except that the “grid” is not the “pit lane” — you realize this, no? SO what’s the comparison?…

      2. Dan says:

        Quite simply it follows that if each station has its own set of personnel doing “grid walks” then probable that they also have roving pit lane reporters an analysts.

        Perhaps foreign JA on F1 readers could confirm. I’m aware of Sky F1′s team (Kravitz, Pinkham et al) and the BBC’s (Gary Andersob). Do Sky Italia, Speed TV, ESPN and the rest have their equivalents.

        At any rate, the point remains the grid and the pitlane are much busier places than they once were.

  8. PB says:

    Ridiculous to say the least…no reporting then from the pitlane..

    F1 is an unsafe sport as a whole…i hope the next step isn’t to ban it altogether

  9. gudien says:

    Mistakes will be made as every competitive F-1 team has had it’s share of these pit lane incidents. Time wasted in the pits vs. on the race track is what it’s all about.

  10. Mitchel says:

    +1.

    Even though it wasn’t Webber’s fault, the mistake by the team definitely warranted a disqualification. I was so puzzled when he continued, as I immediately thought of the incident in ’90 (I think) where Mansell lost a wheel and was disqualified for reversing in the pitlane.

    1. hero_was_senna says:

      Portugal 1989. Black flagged and then took Senna out of the race

      1. justafan says:

        Wasn’t that rather Senna driving straight through Mansell?

    2. Miguel says:

      Mansell reversed in the pitlane, which is illegal. Webber switched off the engine and was pulled back, which is legal.

      1. monsterFG says:

        Hows that legal and masa’s Singapore pit lane mess is illegal, same thing just not about tyres, they arent allowed to pushed or wheeled back unless they chaange the rule since 2008. Remember Masa’s pit crew went to im and did work on the car where he stoped as he wasnt allowed t be pushed back per rules. Double standard perhaps as always.

    3. The Real JC says:

      Of course he continued without disqualification. He didn’t reverse the car, so there’s no problem there. He didn’t leave the pit lane, so the team were able to retrieve the car. It’s been that way for donkey’s years. No confusion required…

    4. SteveH says:

      Webber didn’t reverse in the pit lane. He was told to shut his engine off, then the pit crew pushed him back to the pit, which is legal.

    5. DMBK says:

      Mansell was disqualified due to the mechanics refitting the wheel while he was in the pitlane. They didn’t wheel him back into his pit box IIRC.

    6. Scuderia McLaren says:

      It’s just yet more Webber favouritism from the FIA. It never ends for him. If it were Vettel, there’d be a 10spot penalty next race.

  11. ian says:

    I would have thought anything that increases safety is a step forward and the ever increasing pressure on the pit crews to stop fighting for the fastest time a good idea,shame it will detract from the millions who watch on the box

  12. Seized Up says:

    RBR have had a *few* of these incidents this year…
    Pre race testing and a couple of “offs” for MW. Beginning to look like there’s a pattern + systematic origin of failure.

    On an unrelated note, are automated pit stop releases legal and what measures can the FIA take to ensure the teams comply?

    1. Random 79 says:

      ‘are automated pit stop releases legal’

      For now I think they are, but next week who knows…

      I know the teams are super, super competitive and the pit crew tries to operate at maximum efficiency, but in a 1½ – 2 hour race would it really hurt that much to take an extra half a second to make sure that all the bits are attached?

  13. El Mago says:

    Can anyone explain why Red Bull has not been punished for this grave incident?

    1. kfzmeister says:

      $30,000 not enough?

      1. Tony says:

        $30,000 not enough? No, no way, far too little, it is less than others have been fined when nobody was hurt. Small change for them anyway, they should have lost constructor’s points instead of $s.

      2. Jonathan says:

        no! it is nothing more than a drop in the ocean. It took $100m to make a slight difference to McLaren.

        Money has very little meaning at these levels. The penalty really should be a serious loss constructors points.

      3. Richard says:

        As I have said before, if you think 30k is alot for RB, then even the last years HRT would have been a superior car to the Red Bull

    2. Random 79 says:

      They have been: A 30k fine and an explanation.

      Hideous I know.

    3. David C says:

      They were fined 30K which is similar to all other times a wheel was not properly attached to an F1 car. I think in future there should be a bigger penalty but that should be decided before any future incidents.

  14. JohnBt says:

    Back to the traditional lollipop man? He can see.

  15. Allan says:

    The main problem is that everyone is trying to get things done as fast as they can, and with that comes bigger pressure on team personnel to get the job done….hence bigger risks.

    Perhaps not the best solution but what about imposing a minimum pit stop time of no less than 3 secs? That’s more than enough time to get all 4 wheels safely on…reduces the pressure somewhat and therefore the risks as well.

    By the way, if all or most teams are able to pit in a similar amount of time then it would reduce any advantage of ‘overtaking in the pit lane’ and leave the actual overtaking and racing out on the tracks. Overtaking should be done by the drivers, not the guys changing the wheels.

    1. Dylan says:

      Stupidest thing I’ve heard. If you want that why not just give them tyres that last the whole race? No need for pit stops then.

      Part of the appeal of F1 is everyone working together, the drivers, the cars and the crew.

    2. KARTRACE says:

      5 seconds as minimum. Anyone could be safe at those “speeds”.

      1. rad_g says:

        And 10mph pit lane speed limit.

    3. JoeP says:

      Rather than impose minimum times for pitstops or other ineffective measures, there should be massive, huge, backbreaking fines and points losses and civil liability imposed on teams guilty of such gross negligence as sending a car out of the box w/o a wheel attached. anyone w/ any understanding of the science of organizational behavior knows that would be a much more effective deterrent, in a competitive environment, than the half-measuress and knee-jerks discussed and implemented this week…

  16. Ryan Eckford says:

    I want to know what you personally think about these changes, James?

  17. kfzmeister says:

    Not only does Mark not get the best and latest parts on his car, but also the second string mechanics team.

    1. David C says:

      It’s the same guys who do the pitstops for each car

    2. SteveH says:

      Are you referring to the car prep mechanics or the pit crew? The same crew changes Webber’s and Vettel’s wheels. Do you see them shuttling in a separate crew for Webber? Have you ever seen a stacked pit stop?

      If you’re referring to the garage mechanics (who are also the pit crew) I certainly can’t agree that there is a ‘second string’. These guys are dedicated, professional, work very long hours, wouldn’t screw one of the drivers, and are proud of their work. There is no such thing as ‘second string’ mechanics in F1.

  18. Random 79 says:

    James, have you heard any word about RBR offering to pay for Paul’s medical bills or compensation, or is that all covered under the FIA and taken out of the 30k fine?

  19. franed says:

    “And on Thursday, the BBC reported that rights holder FOM has told broadcasters that their personnel, including pit lane reporters and camera crews, will not be allowed in the pit lane during any session on “safety” grounds. Written journalists and photographers will still be permitted.”

    What utter rubbish!

    James you know people in the BBC please tell them to go to official sources for the news, not Bernie’s press office. The FIA make the rules, they said this the day before Benson’s piece.

    “Following a pit lane incident at last weekend’s German Grand Prix, the FIA has decided to take steps to increase F1 safety and is to institute an immediate ban on anyone other than event marshals and team personnel being present in pit lane during races and grand prix qualifying sessions. Access for approved media will be confined to the pit wall.
    http://www.fia.com/fia-reinforces-f1-safety

  20. Seifenkistler says:

    Camera crews no, photographers yes?

    So the danger is not the camera, but the need to focus on the speaker is the risc, cameraman standing with back to the action?

    Cameras can be real small and it should be possible to display the camerascreen information in the visor of a helmet. So the cameraman can still see a possible danger.

    Each movie camera can do photos, and each photo camera movies.
    Shouldn’t there be a meeting with cameramen, photographers, FIA, camera companies to discuss a setup for a camera which minimizes risc? Then do a license or something like this for what will be allowed in the pitlane.

  21. Vince says:

    Has anyone with influence yet proposed that one could enforce a minimum time period that a car must be stationary in any pitstop? Say 10 seconds.

    This would have the following pros and cons:

    Pros:

    1. No rush, so unlikely any wheel would not be properly seated. Speed leads to mistakes.
    2. Removes the possibility that an ultra fast pitstop allows a car to overtake another in the pits. Leave the overtaking on the track. Some will see this as a con.
    3. A car that requires a front wing change will be penalised less. Especially important when the break was some other driver’s fault. Only valid if the pitstop is in the tyre change window.
    4. Gives team more time to make other changes properly, e.g. wing adjustments, change steering wheel etc. Leads to fewer retirements, and better racing since cars wing can be adjusted throughout the race to take less fuel weight into account.
    5. Cheaper, since fewer personel could do the same work as before.
    6. Removes the conspiracy theory that some teams favour one driver over the other.

    Cons:
    1. Some will say that pitstops should be competitive, and add to the spectacle.

  22. Michael Cassie says:

    The FIA seem to be trying to show some attempt at making it safer, but what if it was another team member who had been collected by the wheel, would that have been ok? No, didn’t think so…. Why not reduce the amount of people who can be used during a pitstop and give a minimum time of say 6 secs, that way instead of the mob that descends upon the car at every pitstop there are less people so the lollipop man might see the wheelman’s hand signals as well as any other signals the equipment might give him. This would affect every team to the same degree.
    It won’t stop accidents totally but if teams know that they have 6 secs minimum to do a pitstop they have a far greater time to ensure everything is done correctly. I mean wow a whole 6 secs to change wheels, that’s a lifetime isn’t it!

  23. KARTRACE says:

    Interestingly everything that goes wrong at RBR Infinity usually happens on Marks car. How strange ?

    1. SteveS says:

      What’s interesting is that people keep repeating this ridiculous claim when a few seconds of investigation would reveal that it is not true. THAT is strange.

    2. Yak says:

      Evidently you have a very short memory.

      1. monsterFG says:

        +1 Yak, all the wrongs are reserved for M. Webber for some reason.

  24. Mark Murphy says:

    The easiest way to make the pit stops safer is to limit the number of people that service the car. The 20-22 people is a crazy number. The indycar model is probably the best way to go.

  25. GT_Racer says:

    I know of more than a few people, Including FOM cameramen who work in the pits who are unhappy about the new pit restrictions.

    Seen lots of comments about using drones & wire-cams.
    I know that FOM have tested remote drone’s but I believe there are restrictions to where these cameras can be used & thats why there not widely used in MotorSport coverage.
    The problem with Wire-Cam’s in the pits is that you can only put them where you can fit the equipment. You need 2 cranes at either end of the cable & if there’s nowhere to put them at either end of the pit lane then you can’t use them.
    Same with rail-cam’s, If there’s nowhere to mount them securely on the pit buildings then you can’t use those either.

    Halmet-cam’s on team members & other wireless cameras on pit equipment is possible but you could not have that many because your limited on how much bandwidth can be put through the RF systems.
    This is the same reason only 9 in-car cameras can be active at any single time, Thats the max you can get through the system before you start losing both picture & signal quality.

    The reason FOM still used manned cameras in the pit lane is because thats what gets you the best shots, Other may get more interesting shots but they will never be as good as someone down on the ground holding a camera & thats why thats still what you see 99% of the time.

    1. GT_Racer says:

      To add, The problem with the new restrictions is that were now going to have less information available from the pit lane.
      In practice were no longer going to be able to see shots of new upgrades & people like Ted Kravitz & Gary Anderson are not going to be able to show or tell us about whats going on down there & thats going to see a drop in quality of the practice broadcast which is where we always got told & shown those sort of things.

      If a car has damage & its not on the pit-wall side, Were not going to get any decent shots of it so again thats a negative for the coverage.

      Will Buxton has written a good article about this-
      http://willthef1journo.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/how-the-pitlane-tv-ban-will-affect-f1-fans/

  26. Emanuel says:

    I have read many stupid comments in the past, but I astounded by such a load of people who haven’t have the slightest idea of what they are talking about, yet make judgemental comments of what has become an art form in F1.
    The length of a pit stop does matter a lot actually. And obviously one guy is not able to see and judge correctly what 19 other guys are doing in just mere 2 seconds. Hence the teams came up with an automated system that displays to the front jack guy if the corners are ready or not. He just looks at those lights and when they are all there he releases the car, which means the back guy drops it as well and the driver goes.
    Changing the gun design to not trigger the ready signal by accident, makes a lot of sense to me. One as explaination of what happened and as the correct answer for going into the future.

  27. M3 says:

    Or we could just make cameramen wear helmets

    1. Random 79 says:

      Couldn’t hurt, but the problem in this particular case is that the tyre hit Paul square in the back.

      In that instance all the helmets in the world aren’t going to stopped someone being knocked for a six.

  28. James C says:

    Seems to be human nature to fix the symptom and not the problem. Crossing threading screws is the real problem, RB should focus on designing nuts that are less prone to cross threading.

  29. David C says:

    Great to see them making steps to improve safety, let’s hope the new system works and we have no more accidents, at least they have the upcoming test to practice.

  30. Steve W says:

    This is becoming scary… Just like the tire fiasco at Silverstone, the teams will go to any length possible to save time. Everyone “says” safety is their top priority, but it really isn’t – that sub 2-second pit stop is really the top priority…

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