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FIA announces new F1 pit lane safety measures
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Posted By: James Allen  |  09 Jul 2013   |  8:40 pm GMT  |  223 comments

Formula 1’s governing body the FIA has put a ban on anyone other than marshals and team personnel being allowed in the pit lane during qualifying sessions and races.

That is just one of a series of measures which have been introduced with immediate effect following the incident in Sunday’s German Grand Prix when an FOM cameraman was hit by a loose tyre from Mark Webber’s Red Bull.

Paul Allen suffered broken ribs, a broken collarbone and concussion but is expected to make a full recovery.

FIA president Jean Todt has asked the World Motor Sport Council to approve the changes, which had already been planned for 2014.

One of the changes will see a reduction in the pit lane speed limit.  That will be reduced from 100kph to 80kph, expect in Australia, Monaco and Singapore where due to the track configuration the limit remains at 60kph.

All team personnel working on a car during a pit stop must wear head protection. They must then leave the pit lane as soon as work is completed.

Red Bull have been asked to submit a written report on Wednesday in relation to the incident. This will be shared with the other teams in order to help improve safety.

 

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1

Monaco 2015. During nose change on Phillip Masa’s car (about lap 5), a person not wearing any safety gear of any sort was seen talking to the pit crew. Surely this is in contravention of FIM rules

2

Sorry. meant FIA rules (I think)

3

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4

I imagine this will have a huge and detrimental effect on TV coverage of the pit lane activity going forward. Surely, as the pit activity is such a large part of the ‘show’ Bernie and all the broadcasters will be keen to come up with sort better solution than this. We’ll barely be able to see the pit stops anymore. Nor will we get the highly useful pit lane reporting, at which James used to excel so brilliantly 🙁

5

Have to say after reading the comments here I feel surprise and unease. Of course safety of all personnel is important, but this was a freak accident. No measures can eliminate danger completely out of F1 except calling off the event.

IMHO Teams should be penalised much more heavily for accidents they cause.

As for the media, I don’t see how they can do their job of scrutiny if they don’t have pitlane access, and I am surprised they voice approval for these new restrictions on their operations.

6

nothing is impossible in f1. f1 can excell in safety by extensively using sensors and designing an on going health and safety training program for all personnel in all areas of f1. safety in f1 has come a long way under prof watkins and still be taken further. if prof watkins has a similar attitude to yours i wonder how many drivers would die each year.

7

I think there should be a compulsory minimum time set for all pit-stops like they do in endurance races…

this would increase safety and reduce teams messing up a drivers race.

It’s all fair and well that teams can change a tyre in under 2 seconds, but who cares? the race should be on the track.

(not sure if this has already been mentioned)

8

there should be a health and safety training for all people in the pit lane and they should all be provided with the correct safety protection. a well trained and equipped group of people are more likely to do a better job than a group of sensible people without training and the right equipment. hamilton would suggest the same.

9

There’s only one definitive answer. Proper tyres that can last a whole race so there is no need for pit stops at all. Easy.

10

One thing they should do is ban the traffic light system that replaced the lollipop. Ever since we went to the lollipop system we have seen numerous unsafe releases per race, this never used to be the case.

They also need to actually enforce the unsafe release rules. I have seen numerous close calls (which unfortunately seem to be Ferrari a lot of the time) which haven’t even been investigated. Cars absolutely should never be running side by side in the pit lane and in those cases the released car should always yield immediately to the car already in motion. Teams seem to be very blaise in that area these days, it used to be seen as totally taboo for cars to run side by side in the pits but these days it is a regular occurence.

I’d also support an instant black flag to any car that has a wheel come off as that is an extremely serious safety incident.

It’s actually relatively simple to solve some of these safety issues. The FIA don’t need to get complicated about it.

11

How about installing load cells in the hub that have to be compressed by a correctly torqued wheel nut. Then make it so the car can’t get out of neutral without four correctly torqued nuts detected. To ensure safety the design of such a system could be a control part

12

I was about to type something similar. With the technology in Formula One, one would think it would be simple to put sensors on the wheel nuts. Disabling the clutch or the rear jack would then seem simple.

The FIA Completely missed solving the problem.

I also like the idea of limiting the number of pit crew. The pitstops are so fast now we cannot actually see what’s going on. It’s much more enjoyable to see each individual person working on the car rather than a blur of a mass of people.

13

Why is it always the Right Rear?

14

Motor racing will always be dangerous so I guess those freak accidents or incidents will trigger safety measures. They improve as they go along and will continue to do so.

So looks like across the pit lane will be packed sardines which can even be worse. Team principles wil not like it one bit for sure. Will surely miss the closed up tv images and Ted reports will no longer be possible which is rather important IMO.

Can’t they just fix a cam just above the poles holding the wheel guns wiring system? Just a thought.

15

They did, at Le Mans. The Caterham (!) entered cars had cameras mounted on the air line poles and also the rear of the prat perches.

16

The box crew has to wield a kevlar police shield in one hand. The entering and leaving of the pit lane has to be done in the correct ancient roman turtle formation.

All work on the car has to be done with all workers and the car fully covered by the shields.

So do you really think we will need a cameraman if there is nothing to see of the pit stop because of the shields?

17

I know you jest but perhaps having segregation between each garage (something capable of withstanding a wheel) which can be removed when the pit crew come out. This would effectively cordon each area and reduce the risk significantly. The only problem would be visibility for the lollipop man – though I think that could easily be resolved.

Also remove the stupid light system – this is the real issue – the light for Webber went green and that is what he looks at. At least the lollipop man has a chance to put the stick back down.

18

Do Red Bull have some sort of ‘auto release’ system (as Darren Heath suggested on his blog). The mechanic knew the wheel wasn’t secured yet the car was released. Could it be some sort of electronic connection from the wheel gun?

19

The real problem here is the pitlane itself. The pitlane as a concept has been around since the dawn of motorsport. Back then, it wouldn’t have been the frenetic place it is now. There is simply no way to make a confined space where people and racing cars coexist completely safe.

Therefore, we need to think outside the box (if you’ll pardon the pun). Pitstops are getting stupidly short and the urgency makes incidents like the Webber one more likely. So, why not wheel the cars backwards into the garage? That way, the mechanics (and cameramen) would be working in safety and the driver would be able to see if any cars were coming when he left the pitlane. Only a couple of mechanics would ever need to stand in the pitlane (to push the car in). It might not work with narrower pitlanes, but otherwise ought to be possible.

I’m clear that this is a radical idea. But sometimes radical thinking is what’s needed.

20

‘Sometimes radical thinking is what’s needed’

You’re right, but I can’t see this idea working. There are already enough incidents when a car pulls in to the right and then takes off again in a (more or less) straight line under its own power.

With your idea first the car would have to pull to the left, stop in the way of other traffic, and then be slowly wheeled in to the garage backwards. In the garage the mechanics could work safely, but they’d usually only be working for three or four seconds tops, and then some guy has to stand back out in the pit lane so that they can make sure that no other driver is coming before the driver swings out under low speed – I imagine that between the HANS device and their helmet the driver wouldn’t be able to see far enough to the left while the car is starting to turn to the right on the exit to judge for themselves…and even if all that is feasible, at the end of the day the drivers are still human and can make mistakes like everyone else.

I don’t mean to bag you Luke because I do like to see fresh thinking, but any real solution to a problem has to be based on fixing the real cause of the problem, and in this case I tend to agree with a few others in that the cause of these incidents is the mechanics being under immense pressure and rushing, which in the end always leads to unnecessary mistakes.

Regulations to slow down the stops to give the pit crew time to do their jobs right should I think alleviate a lot of these problems.

21

So, no more cameras in the pits because a wheel nut missed its mark – bravo FIA!

22

health and safety first, entertainment second.

23

Perhaps there should be a 10 mile exclusion zone around F1 circuits during Grands Prix. For safety’s sake.

24

I think RBR should be given a reprimand or at least a severe warning because how many Red Bull wheels have we seen this season bouncing down the road. China stands out where Webbers wheel nearly took out Vettel. Hamilton was right when he said last week that “things will only change when someone gets really hurt”.

25

‘China stands out where Webbers wheel nearly took out Vettel’

Webber gave it a good try, but unfortunately at that stage Red Bull still hadn’t got all the bugs out of it’s Pirelli Heat Seeking Homing Device®, now available in all good toy stores.

26

My thoughts:

1. Pit stop speeds are probably getting a bit silly now on safety grounds.

2. I think to slow them down a little there should be a reduction in wheel gun speeds and also a look at the number of team personnel allowed to work on the car for a fixed time when the car first arrives in its pit box. After which more personnel would be allowed to cover for any car issues.

3. I happen to think the fine handed to RBR is a joke! The wheel leaving Webbers car and hitting the cameraman is entirely the fault of RBR. The €30,000 fine is minimal for a team like theirs and I imagine would hardly cover the cost of the immediate medical treatment and the rehabilitation therapy that may be required in the future. The fine should have been much more. Especially when you consider this is not the first time RBR have unsafely released Webber this year.

What do you think James?

27

Definitely time to review pit stop safety

Not sure about RBR fine. I think they feel pretty bad already

There is no way they tried to sabotage Webber’s race as some have suggested, by not fixing wheel on

The mechanics simply would not take part in something like that

28

James I don’t for a minute think a team would deliberately send a car out on 3 wheels, but would any of the boys on the shop floor ever consider taking an extra second or so to create a gap between the cars?

29
Scuderia McLaren

Hope everyone took note of what James said.

30

Alleluia! Thank you James.

Not that it’s going to stop the conspiracy theorists.

31

No. It simply doesn’t work like that.

Have you ever met any F1 mechanics? They are more competitive than the drivers! They work insane hours to try to do well.

Why would they throw that up in the air to deliberately sabotage one of their drivers?

If you wanted to do that you might do it at a management level, bringing him in at the wrong time, so he exits into traffic etc. But somewhere it’s hard to prove.

But you’d never get the buy in of the lads on the shop floor. Also their professional standards would recoil at the idea of endangering their colleagues in other teams down the pit lane with a loose wheel travelling at 80 km/h

Anyone who thinks that RBR did that to Webber needs to take a huge reality check

32

[There is no way they tried to sabotage Webber’s race as some have suggested, by not fixing wheel on]

GOSH!!! how could fans ever think of that. It’s worse than hooliganism if teams are trying to cripple a teammate. And it’s real stupid cos they need points from the number two driver which is where the money is for the constructor championship.

33

So just to be clear, James, does this mean no pit stop footage during the race? It seems pretty clear that it does, but surely it can’t be? That’s chucking out a vital part of the TV spectecal?

34

That is exactly wast it means

35

We would still have remote cameras and long range shots from the pit wall.

36

James I wasn’t suggesting sabotage, just carelessness in this instance. Although you saying “the mechanics simply would not take part in something like that” made me immediately think back to Singapore “crashgate.” I’m sure we all thought Briatore, Symonds & Piquet jr would not have taken part in that either?!?

37

Management can always do things, but the boys on the shop floor – no way. Word would get out

38

how about those slilly air guns… come on, several hoses running around it has got to be a troublesome garage for pit crew.

Get rid of the houses, it has cause accidents before, where a hose gets tungle with the rear wheel of a car getting out of a pit stop hurting a neighbor mechanic…. I agree with a comment left earlier, that FIA is run by a Geriatic bunch of people that only want to get richer rather than improving the sport. my 0.02 cents.

39
Jason Blankenship

Exactly. This sport will immediately improve when Bernie Ecclestone and Jean Todt step aside. They greatly need new blood, and frankly, younger blood, to run the sport.

40

Aren’t the tyres meant to be tethered? Thats one thing that puzzles me about the incident.

A tethered tyre surely would not have made such a dangerous bid for freedom. The matter should be viewed as a grave breach of safety, in which case, Red Bulls piffling 30K Euro fine is a cruel joke.

41

The tethers only work once the wheel is properly attached in the pits – until then it’s a free for all.

Totally agree with the last part. 30K when you have (allegedly) a three hundred million budget and your boss has (again allegedly) over five billion to his name? Piffling is as good a word as any and they wouldn’t have even felt it.

I think the real penalty might be how the other teams and the F1 community in general feel about the team and their procedures, and of course (hopefully) their own conscience.

Thinking about it I’m actually surprised that I haven’t read any official statement and apology from RBR. Have they made one that I’ve missed?

42

No, the upright is tethered to the car, not the wheel.

43

The cameraman was fully aware of the risks of being in the pit lane. What needs to be looked at is why this happens and prevent any car being released until all wheels are engaged, by electronic means or otherwise. Banning media from the pit lane is not addressing the issue, and may have ultimately cost this poor chap his job as well.

44

‘May have ultimately cost this poor chap his job as well.’

Very good point, it could be a double whammy.

There’s nothing quite like looking after the safety of your employees by having them made redundant.

45

The reaction to the incident is not addressing the root cause, which was a car leaving the pit box with an incorrectly attached wheel. Not because the media are in the pitlane during a race.

What would the FIA’s reponse be if the wheel struck another teams’ mechanics. Ban mechanics from being in the pitlane???

If I remember correctly the Lotus mechanics jumped out of the way, if the Lotus mechanics were servicing a car then they would not have noticed the wheel rolling towards them and that pit crew or car would have been hit.

This measure isn’t addressing the issue, it is merely removing some people from the firing line when a wheel isn’t attached properly. With pit stop times getting faster and faster errors are going to arise and a wheel becoming detached will happen again this season and there is the potential to seriously injury anyone in the pit lane.

It is a quick response by the FIA which hasn’t been thought through properly.

A safer solution, in my opinion, would be to slow down the speed of the pit stop. At Le Mans the number of team members that can touch the car at any one time is limited. Maybe F1 should introduce that. Or bring back re-fueling that puts less pressure on the mechanics changing the wheels but does obviously introduce another variable with potentially dangerous consequences.

46

youre right about addressing the route cause but until a solution is found, developed and implimented, the ban is perfect. all the pit crew have lookouts for danger coming their way. the are fully prepared for all known possible dangers. sensors on the wheel nuts to prevent the car from engaging a gear if the wheel nut isn’t secured is a perfect solution but how long will it take to put that into action?

f1 has surely learned a new lesson. don’t forget that it was an accident. the redbull crew were simply trying to win a race. they didn’t intend to endanger anyone’s life in the process.

47

totally agree.

They should make ALL cars come to a complete STOP for a period of at least 10 seconds. (i’m just making up numbers here)

This way they can get the tyres on in 2 seconds, and have 8 seconds to check the wheel nut is on tight.

48

not a good idea, pit stop competitions add spice up the chase.

leave them as they are and health and safety train everyone in the pit lane during sessions.

49

all the technical staff are there to prepare their cars to race so they are equipped with tools and skills to deal with the dangers of the pit lane during events. the media staff are not trained for safety in the pit lane and are not suitably dressed with the right safety protection. the press are there to see things which they find interesting and dont seem to look out for danger. we saw how the mechanics reacted to the tyre and how that poor cameraman reacted. the most convenient way to protect them is to keep them out of the pit lane during events and allow them into the pit lanes after and before events.

ecclestone is right as usual.

50

Yes, we did see the mechanics jumping out of the way but if the mechanics were servicing a car then they would have had their eyes on the job of removing wheels from their car and not looking up the pit lane waiting for their car to arrive. The only reason the mechanics jumped out of the way was because they saw the wheel coming.

If the wheel had hit the medical team at the end of the pit lane would you remove them from the pit lane? You can’t just keep removing certain sectors of the people in the pitlane everytime someone gets hit by something otherwise you would end up with no-one being allowed into the pit lane.

What is preventing the FIA from providing suitable PPE and training to highlight the dangers of working in the pit lane for everyone (not just the media)?

This is not the answer and us fans will suffer as a result.

51

please take it easy on me but i thought all pit crew had lookouts to spot danger coming their way while they were on duty.

you are right about the danger training for all on duty in the pit lanes during sessions. the pit crew already are prepared for all kinds of danger in the pit lane.

52

I can see the popint you are making but if I may I’d like to point out a couple of areas where I’d disagree.

If we start with your comment about the training of the pit teams; the mechanics in the neighbouring garage could react because they’d seen the situation develop and reacted to the shouts and gesticulations from the Red Bull team. Had they been servicing one of their own cars when this happened then they would not have been in a position to react and death or very serious injury would have been a likely outcome.

The lack of reaction from the camera man was not down to lack of training but simply because he was out of earshot and had his back to the incident.

Based on this I’d agree wiuth the banning of all but team members from the area but that alone will not prevent a serious injury when this next happens. This needs to be an interim step on the way to developing (with all the teams)a safe release system

53

interesting reply but i found out that prophecy is the least paid profession as a result am not good at ifs.

what i do know however is that every pit crew has lookouts to spot danger coming their way while they are on duty.

this is the reason teams get fined for unsafe releases.

54

‘How that poor cameraman reacted’

It could just be me but I don’t recall him reacting at all.

You could train the camera guys and give them proper safety equipment, but I think the basic problem is that when you’re looking through a camera you’re ignoring everything else…especially if it’s sneaking up behind you.

I don’t think this ban is a good long term solution, but it is a very good short term solution that shows that the FIA did react to a serious incident, which is kind of what they had to do.

55

All right, all right lol! I got it!

56

random 79, i wish i was as good with ifs as you are.

there already are lookouts in the pitlane. how difficult would it be to provide an earpiece for each person in the pitlane through which an alarm can be raised of any danger or potential danger? if a patient has a cardiac arrest in hospital, all doctors are alerted and they rush to the scene. it is possible to make the pitlane a lot safer than it is now. we all saw the tyre long before its encounter with the poor cameraman. if we had a way of telling him to get out of the way would he not have got out of the way to safety?

57

Obviously I was thinking something completely different, but if a lookout system was implemented like that?

Yep, that is a good idea 🙂

58

random 79, i wish i was as good with ifs as you are.

there already are lookouts in the pitlane. how difficult would it be to provide an earpiece for each person in the pitlane through which an alarm can be raised of any danger or potential danger? if a patient has a cardiac arrest in hospital, all doctors are alerted and they rush to the scene. it is possible to make the pitlane a lot safer than it is now.

59

…and an interesting supply from you aveli, I have indeed seen zero many time on a scale 🙂

Nice idea about the lookouts, but it would likely end up being the same problem in reverse:

While the lookout is looking out for random tyres making a bid for freedom and other hazards, the cameraman might might be darting off in the opposite direction to get a closer shot of another pit stop or damage to a car leaving both guys with no one watching their six.

Besides, a lookout for every cameraman means twice as much media personnel in the pit lane, which was probably crowded enough as it was.

60

interesting reply from you.

a safety training for media would include a lookouts who would ensure that they are informed of any potential danger, giving them the comfort of looking down their camera lenses in absolute confidence that their lookouts had been fully trained to spot danger from all angles and know exactly how to react to any alarm raised by the lookouts.

as far as the cameraman is concerned, have you never seen zero marked on any scale?

61
Jason Blankenship

Best post of the thread. I agree with everything you said.

62

Agree with this, apart from refuelling.

63

Perhaps the whole pit-stop routine should be changed – how about if mechanics are not allowed to leave the garage until the car is at a stand-still in the pit-box, and then the car is not allowed to leave until all mechanics are back in the garage. Teams have got pitstops down below 3 seconds now, so they are near peak performance, this kind of change will introduce new dynamics and challenges to the stops, reduce the amount of personnel in the pit lane, and reduce the level of risk for unsafe releases. Thoughts?

64

Nice idea…not sure about the first part where the crew would have to wait for the car to stop in the box, but it would stop them coming out for dummy pit stops 🙂

65

Would require a bit of tech to be developed, nothing too hardcore, but I think it would help if the lollipop man had a remote cut for the car once it has left the stop. Changing tyres rapidly is always going to lead to errors and them falling off (yes, even if they aren’t fast degrading pirelli’s…) as happened to Mansell in 91 and Alonso in 2009. This would limit the damage as the energy involved would be reduced, and can also be used to reduce the chance of a collision if the car is released into another one.

66

In the case of Webber’s wheel it came off almost instantly, but there was already enough energy to do some damage.

Besides, there’s no way a lollipop man is going to have faster reflexes than an F1 driver – if he did the car probably wouldn’t be released in the first place.

67

The Mighty Ship the SS F1, is loosing an a

other bit of sail, the gloss is continuing

to fall of, the once a “Hot news from the

Horses mouth “will be there no more, F1 fans

must now wait till post-mortal of the race.

Universal rule, participating in any competition the onus is on the team competing

to ensure the duty of care.

Yup,FIA keeps eroding the good things in F1

soon it will be a big yawn in the weekend of F1,sad but true

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