Ferrari using pit lights again in 2010

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Ferrari will use their infamous pit stop traffic lights once again in 2010.

The lights, which were blamed for Felipe Massa’s botched pit stop at Singapore in 2008, are being reintroduced an effort to speed up their pit stops.

The team said:

The team has developed a new "traffic light" system, more sophisticated and safer than the one used previously. Therefore this is an additional option for releasing a driver back into the race.

Massa’s early exit from the pits with his refuelling hose still attached cost him a potential win at Singapore and could have changed the outcome of the championship. Ferrari suspended use of the lights after the blunder and brought back a traditional lollipop.

Like Renault, Ferrari are also using special wheel nuts to speed up their tyre changes, which are expected to take less than three seconds in 2010 now that in-race refuelling has been banned.

Pit stops in 2010

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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79 comments on “Ferrari using pit lights again in 2010”

  1. excellent… no refuelling but still plenty of pit stop hilarity to come…

    1. Maybe but the hilarity was as a result of the refuelling combined with the lights.

      1. The hilarity was caused by someone pressing a button too soon.

        1. This time Massa will leave the pits with a wheelman still grabbing onto the tyre.

          1. If the wheelman is still holding the tire, the car will be off the ground. If the light turns green when the car is off the ground and the wheelman has the gun to the rear wheel nut and the driver hits the gas…..well….wow….

        2. That’s true, but the wheels were already on by this point.

          1. Yes, the wheels are on, but unlike last year with refueling, if the car is released before the crew is ready, the last person touching the car will be the wheel-nut-gun guy and the gun will be attached to the car. If three of them are finished and the light (or lollipop) is released too soon, the wheel will begin spinning when the gun is still attached to the wheel…..

        3. look..

          …leave Button out of this will you… ?

    1. or even ‘oh dear’!

      1. Second that!

  2. Mclaren have something like this too for this season don’t they?

  3. “The team has developed a new “traffic light” system, more sophisticated and safer than the one used previously.”

    What’s safer than having an experienced mechanic standing in front of the car with a lollypop? This will end in tears… again.

    1. if it’s linked to the wheels actually being on the ground again, then it could work. and then again maybe not, because there’s also traffic.

      another question: what about the front man?
      is it mandatory to have someone at the front of the car?
      I would design someting where the front man only lifts the car, but that later on the car can be dropped down from the side of the car. I mean, the last ‘thing’ preventing the car to get away, will be the front man, won’t it?
      he used to be able to walk away, because they were still refuelling the car, but this season…

      Oh boy, what a season!

      1. Front man will not be able to do anything if the rear wheels are on the ground. But to the driver that is pretty obvious. I could see the car driving off without a wheel gun removed (with the round wheel nut I would think the gun will fall straight off), but what I can see is the car drives off without the rear jack properly detached and rip it out of the hand of the rear guy.. Biggest worry this year with no refueling I believe will be traffic.

  4. Didn’t Schumacher used to have a mirror on the lollipop when he was at Ferrari, so he could see how the tyre changes were going?

    If he brought that back with Mercedes, Nico could use the mirror to check his hair.

    1. I give you 10 points.

      1. This year it’s 25 points… Need to stay on top of the new regulations.. tsk tsk…

    2. reply of the day! :D

    3. American_F1_Fan
      12th March 2010, 21:27

      I think I just peed myself. That was hilarious!

  5. Recent history has shown that either using a lollipop or traffic light system can cause problems at pit stops. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few teams opted for the traffic light system if they think it is quicker and they have sorted all the potential problems out.

  6. I thought the system had actually been banned?

    Can’t say I’m too happy about any team using it. F1 still needs a human element, and I don’t see the benefit of this coming anywhere close to justifying allowing these lights. Or maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic?

    1. The lights were never automatic though, they only released the driver once the person controlling the lights deemed that everyone had finished their work, and it was safe to go, exactly the role the lollipop man had, just with different equipment.

      If it’s done properly, I don’t see why it can’t work.

  7. UneedAFinn2Win
    10th March 2010, 15:05

    Probably a system where the lights go when the “nut gun” stops rotating, thats what I’d design anyway

    1. Images of Grommet and an electric drill in ‘A grand Day Out’ spring to mind!

    2. What about when the nut doesn’t go on properly and the guy with the nut gun stops temporarily to fix it…..don’t see that working well.

  8. Silliness. The traffic light system, arguably, cost Massa the world title. I don’t understand this decision.

    1. Don’t worry. I’m sure they’ve made it foolproof this time.

      1. Famous last words…

      2. The problem is whenever somebody makes something foolproof, people go and make better fools.

  9. This will end in tears

    1. then pit stops will have to take 10 seconds or more like a pitlane speed limit for the wheelmen

  10. Well this makes up for their rantings at new teams, they introduce an element of comic relieve themselves.

    Possibly Ferrari want to show a certain ex-employee the red light, when he wants to stop at their pit crew!

    Or they think their cars will be so good, they must add an element of risk to make the other teams able to win races as well.
    Or maybe it is just to make sure Alonso gets in front of Massa, just in case Massa doesn’t follow team orders?

  11. Not good. Not just because of the mechanics but because of the oncoming traffic situation. Imagine the mechanic pressing the button gets his judgement wrong and releases the car into oncoming traffic. With a lollipop, the mechanic can put the lollipop back down again and the driver will see this right away. With the lights, once the driver sees green then he’s off and there’s nothing obstructing his path if the light turns to red again.

    1. wrong. if the driver is looking at the lollipop that closely, he can also look at the lights. There have been multiple times where the lollipop man puts it down and the driver goes right through it (it usually slides along his visor on the helmet) and with the acceleration these cars have, the car is at least 20 feet out….

      1. The difference is that the lights are usually above the driver’s straight line of sight, so if they turn back to red then the driver will not be looking at them. Also, many times in the past bringing the lollipop down quick enough has been good enough to stop the drivers entering the outside lane in the pits, and if not, then to at least alert him of the danger. That won’t happen with the lights.

        1. the lights are further away than the lollipop. there have been plenty of incidents where the lollipop man was at fault, lowered the lollipop at the last second and the car still sped away – Kovalinen when he doused Kimi with the gas coming out of the fuel line still attached to the car is the most recent that I can think of….

  12. With a lollipop, the mechanic can put the lollipop back down again and the driver will see this right away.

    That very scenario happened to one of the GP2 Asia drivers at Bahrain last week – think it was Oliver Turvey.

    1. This could easily be implemented with a red and green button on the controller, to allow the controlling person to switch back to red if he makes a mistake. The light change would perhaps be even quicker than trying to slam down the lollipop.

      1. but what if the driver already started the car and isn’t paying attention or isn’t in the visual range of the traffic light system anymore?

        1. Jarred Walmsley
          10th March 2010, 18:27

          Well if thats the case then whats to stop him from paying attention to the lollypop and only realising it when he gets whacked on the head?

          1. at least he can notice being whacked on a head with lollipop – lights can blink all the colors of specter and driver has already driven away.

      1. Eje Gustafsson
        11th March 2010, 16:49

        With a light system driver wouldn’t know something was wrong until he was all the way down the pit and they got him on the radio. Might even made it out on the track in this case since there was no big hose flailing. He was still slow on the stop IMO. Didn’t sound that he lifted until he was almost out in the lane.

  13. I seem to be the only person who thought the traffic light system Ferrari developed was quite good.

    Obviously I don’t like to see mechanics get hurt like in the fiasco with Massa in Singapore, but wasn’t this still down to human error?

    Perhaps Ferrari forgot to build in the option for the crew to change their minds if they get it wrong (by switching back to a red light) and this was the major fault. However that surely has been fixed, and expanding on that… what’s to stop them from say, linking the light’s with the clutch and brakes on the car to forcibly prevent the driver from exiting his box if the mechanics see something that’s not right?

    I think this system has the potential to be even safer than the lollipop man if used in the right way.

    1. I’m not sure, but I think that the rules forbid any means of remote-controlling the car from the pits.

  14. If I recall correctly the original system was connected to the pneumatic guns they use for tyre change and fueling line. Ideally the light would go green at the same time as all the guns would disconnect from the wheel-nuts. Singapore blunder happened because they switched to manual and chief mechanic was trigger happy.

    It could end in tears all over again but it could earn them a few tenths…

  15. A possible future of the pit stop could feature a heads up display in drivers helmet – I know there were a few tests with HUD in helmet but nobody raced with such system…

  16. Mistakes happen with lollipops, mistakes happen with lights, mistakes happen.

    1. Exactly.

  17. I think this is a bit dangerous. The chances of making a mistake in a 2-3 second pit stop must be more likely as it’s more frantic. Plus there is the danger of a wheel coming off in the pit lane or on the track (like Alonso at Hungary).

    1. This is dangerous. No doubt about it.

  18. I don’t want the light to control the pit stop,instead the lollipop guy is a better option.It should be mandatory.

  19. The Dutch Bear
    10th March 2010, 17:22

    Ferrari doesn’t have a good history with pitstops. It’s all goes very well or they do it very Italian,Italian means chaotic here. They did well during the Schumacher era, but that was because Schumacher and Todt managed to get the chaos out of the Italians. Since they have gone, however..

  20. DamionShadows
    10th March 2010, 17:29

    Hey Keith, you should have included a poll asking “How many people will Ferrari run over this season?”

  21. Last year, drivers could watch their mirrors in a pitstop.This year, they can’t even blink.

    1. There are probably going to be some incidents in the pits.
      Rookie drivers, short pitstop times and even more side-pod mirrors making it hard to see anything.

  22. I think I saw something like the ferrari system at Mercedes GP during testing. Brawn is the guy to get this working though (especially with Schumacher in the car).

  23. Really. What’s the point of this. Who makes these decisions. Probably 0.1 sec at best with the threat of the whole race going to pot.

    Ross Brawn wouldn’t have stood for this!

  24. This isn’t even news. Its almost the season opener and this is what we’re discussing Keith?
    Ferrari hatred is weakness. Support your team and get on with it.
    As far as safety goes, the lights do make sense because its one less body that could get hurt. Releasing the driver early could happen (and has) regardless of where that decision maker is (in front of the car or next to it). … this being the case; shut up about the traffic light already. boo-hoo with tea and scrumpets or what have you.

    1. I’d agree with you, had it not been for the system costing Massa the championship in 2008.

      So yes, I think worthy of a news post.

    2. No one forces anyone to read EVERYTHING on this site.

      you’re not interested, don’t read it, don’t post.

      Keith does an excellent job of providing for his core audience, which is F1 FANATICS, not people interested in just cars crashing and drivers going fast.

      And given the history of this piece of “technology”, I think its re-introduction is certainly newsworthy for this audience.

      Get off it.

      Love your work Keith.

      1. For starters GB, where in any thread have I ever said that I just want fast drivers to crash? To the contrary, I have posted primarily in the interest of safety. I will assume that’s what you intended. psshhh.

        As far as Keith’s work goes, I find it to be highly engaging and quality; in short, I appreciate him. This does not mean that I have to nod in agreement over every little thing. No writer wants all claps and no critique- knowing several myself I know this to be the case.
        My point was that this is the eleventh hour and I find it comes at an odd time. I also find it spurious; especially after the Ferrari/new team debacle. There is no reason to make Ferrari look worse than they already do themselves. My suggestion would be that instead of an article about Ferrari’s legal light system that is in its development phases, (and my end up replacing all lollipops) why not an article about these new wheel nuts that are supposed to speed up pitstops? …Maybe even with pictures! There are many other things that I would rather discuss now we are down to a few days. The lights should have come up a month or so ago.

    3. I haven’t got anything against Ferrari.

      They’re going back to a system which has failed them in the past. It’s a story.

      1. The lollipop has never failed them?

      2. ah, you do a little =)! Okay, its a story, but it feels more like an attack.

  25. They should do away with lollipops and lights, and have a policeman directing traffic in the pitlane. They usually make a good job of that !

  26. Their is always the danger that a driver will incorrectly predict the timing of the green light. After several practice runs that go well, any driver will instinctively try to anticipate the light sequence timing. Imagine that you are at a set of traffic lights that are at red, then go to red-amber, but then take an age to go to green. Where will you be before they go green?

  27. With all the If’s, But’s and Maybe’s in this Thread, maybe Ferrari should have an orange light…meaning “be prepared to stop or go, we’re not sure, wish I had a lollipop…or an ice cream…where did they disappear to? Ah, thats right, Kimi took them..Oh, yeah, go when you like, I don’t know anything!!!”

    The only way this works better than human intervention is if it is an automated system that knows all 4 wheels are on and tightened, the jacks are clear of the car and there is no traffic approaching…bit far fetched, but this is F1, so hey, maybe they’ve got exactly that.???

  28. Right here is a glaring difference between Massa and Schumacher. What would Michael have said if Ferrari were going to bring back a system that cost him a world title? He would have vetoed it in a heartbeat. Flex your muscle, Felipe. What a twerp.

  29. From reading this it looks like Ferrari may not be the only ones using traffic lights thus year:

    Other teams have gone for a fully automated traffic light system

  30. Reading that it sound like a real team sport,(something like curling, where there are different roles, but all important ;-)) special trainers etc. for the pit crew.

    Maybe FOM should have some pit crew tournament during the thursday or on sunday morning. Do it in a place where the public can watch. With the best team getting some prize money (welcome for all cars without sponsorship) and maybe a medal.

  31. People point out how Ferrari sent Massa on his way with the fuel hose still attached. Did you guys miss Kovalainen doing exactly the same at Interlagos last season?

    If done correctly, a (semi) automated light system could be better than a lollipop guy.

    One guy holds a button down when traffic is coming in the fast lane. Then for each wheel you have a sensor that determines if the wheel is on ok (instead of sticking your hand up, you press a button). If all 5 say it’s ok then the light goes green.

    That should be a lot safer than one guy trying to oversee all 5 inputs at the same time and inevitably missing one now and then.

  32. Frankly, I don’t see why this system should make the pitstops any more dangerous than they already are. As for the the dilemma of clean releases they could easily incorporate a number of solutions into the system. For example;

    The automated signal instructs the light to turn GREEN when all four wheels are safely grounded.

    However to cover against the danger of oncoming traffic, human judgement is essential.

    For this purpose, a mechanic could be positioned where the lollipop man originally stood. He would operate a button which overrides the automated signal to display RED for the entire duration that it is pressed.

    This guy would hence have no other role than to observe the relative position of rival cars in the pitlane, and hold down a button till it is safe to release the car.

  33. I understood, that this is just what some of the teams plan on doing (i think in the article by FI).

  34. If first you don’t succeed…

    I believe Honda had a traffic light system too – but never used in a race. The idea was for safety, it would immobilise the car.

  35. Is this necessary when teams are looking at cost cutting…

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