Sidepod mirrors banned from next race

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Would regular mirrors have helped Alonso avoid Button at Melbourne?
Would regular mirrors have helped Alonso avoid Button at Melbourne?

Sidepod-mounted wing mirrors are to be banned from the Chinese Grand Prix, according to Autosport.

The teams will be required on safety grounds to fit the mirrors in a position where drivers can see them more easily following complaints over sidepod-mounted mirrors being too hard to see due to vibrations. Six teams used the mirrors during the Australian Grand Prix.

In Australia Pedro de la Rosa was reprimanded for holding up Sebastien Buemi during third practice. De la Rosa was among the drivers who complained about poor rearward visibility.

Fernando Alonso’s collision with Jenson Button at the first corner of the race might also have been avoided had Alonso had a better view behind him.

It’s the second tweaking of the technical rules we’ve seen from the FIA since the season began. After the first race at Bahrain several teams were instructed to modify their diffusers which the FIA felt did not comply fully with the rules.

Sidepod mirrors have become increasingly common since the mid-2000s. Ferrari, Red Bull, Force India, Sauber, Williams and HRT all used them during Sunday’s race at Melbourne. McLaren also tested sidepod mirrors in practice but took them off the MP4-25 in time for qualifying.

See pictures of the sidepod mirrors on the cars here: Australian Grand Prix in pictures

Image (C) Ferrari spa

Author information

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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111 comments on “Sidepod mirrors banned from next race”

  1. Minecraft griefer
    1st April 2010, 14:10

    Finally,……..

    1. just terminate with every idea from a non brit team anything against mclaren is banned but the f duct

      1. Untrue! What goes around comes around, afterall, this is more about safety than Mclaren getting the ol’ one over Ferrari.

      2. Have you not seen these mirrors vibrate while watching a race? Did you not see Vettel’s outboard mirror tear off in Singapore last year?

        Also, if you are talking about Ferrari preference, then how about we bring up Ferrari’s rule veto rights that they had for years. How about the $100 million fine McLaren received?

        1. MigueLP- This is (very obviously) for safety purposes, not about FIA bias towards Mclaren.

          Jameson- Ferrari didn’t even bother to use the veto rights, for example in 2003 and 2005 when rules were brought in to Ferrari’s performance advantage.

          1. *brought in to cut Ferrari’s performance advantage.

          2. u right im just sick of the press Jesson Button bla bla bla … Mclaren … what a race… f1 isnt boring… michael … webber… f1 is just bussiness it goes beyond our beliefs safety of course may damage the bussiness so lets promote our selfs with a safety proposition tose mirrors anyway arent very useful either for drivers or for aero purposes i just dont believe that alonso touched butts wheel because of thhe mirrors

  2. THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT MARTIN BRUNDEL WAS COMPLAINING ABOUT AFTER ALONSO COLLIDED WITH BUTTON.. “IT’S THOSE STUPID MIRRORS”

    SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE THE BBC PUNDITS ARE CONTRIBUTING A LOT MORE TO THE WORLD OF F1 THAN WE THINK

    NEXT – RED BULL’S ADJUSTABLE FLOOR GETS BANNED AND WE HAVE A FAIR QUALIFYING SESSION?

    1. The supposed grey area in the regs is there for all to see. Just because Red Bull saw it first doesn’t make qualifying unfair – kudos to them for getting the jump.

    2. Can you turn off your Caps Lock please?

      1. Sensitive eyes Keith? Online etiquette, ha ha! I agree that the proper way to type is without caps locked, but maybe he WAS yelling! I actually like caps locked because its usually easier to read. Funny everyone else in the world seems to be so sensitive. I think I was born 200 years late.

    3. Fully agree LondonRacer, but do you have to shout?

    4. It is funny how someone puts much EMPHASIS on what the BBC pundits say. Too right those tiny mirrors got to go, but you watch the race right? You don’t need anyone telling you what you can see. Ah! Yes, the caps lock, please.

      1. The mirrors are the correct size, that’s not the issue – it’s their location. Out wide and supported a long way away from the actual mirror surface results in vibrations, making them useless as devices to see behind.

        If size is the issue they would make them bigger, not ban outboard mirrors…

        1. Ferrari started using the mirrors to increase visibility as I recall. Its been a while since I read the article but I’m sure that was the point. Wider mirrors are better for the drivers, but Ferrari originally had them mounted on the sidepods I believe so that they didn’t wiggle quite so much. I think that this mid season rule change is a bit daft however. If I’m making a rule, I make sure to allow innovation and not handcuff the teams so much. If they move too much, then shouldn’t they also ban Sauber from having a front wing for the rest of the season? It seems to be moving so much it comes off! The correct way to handle the rule change would be to come up with a maximum flex under load. In this way, if these teams want to continue to use the mirrors in such a way they will have to reinforce it better.
          IMO the look is much cleaner than the old school way of sidepod or chasis mounting. However, it seems that everyone wants the cars to look like its 1991 again. Lame.

    5. the brits are ruling AND TERMINATING THE OPPONENTS f1 maybe f1 should be called British F1 world championship and THE COLLISON WAS JUST A SMALL TOUCH ON A VERY DIFFICULT CORNER AS EVERYBODY KNOWS evry year someone crashes there and JB WON HE WAS LUCKY BUT HE WON YOU CANT ALWAYS WIN LUCKY SO DESTROY THE COMPETITION

    6. I AM SAYING SOMETHING WHICH IS OF MODERATE INTEREST BUT I HAVE AN OVER-INFLATED OPINION OF MY OWN SELF-IMPORTANCE WHICH HAS LED TO ME BECOMING BLIND THUS LOSING SIGHT OF THE “CAPS-LOCK” KEY!

      1. Saved for future reference.

      2. there is nothing wrong with that. mind your own business.

      3. Terry Fabulous
        1st April 2010, 22:11

        Maybe he was sitting a long way from the keyboard when he typed and needed to yell so it got heard?

        1. Perhaps, He was using `Blink Technology` and He couldn`t find the Caps Lock.

  3. I believe that the banning of sidepod mirrors are for safety reasons, and what about the F-duct?
    are we waiting for a McLaren or a Sauber to crash in a corner with the wing accidentally stalled?

    1. Ferrari fan huh?

      1. never been a Ferrari fan!
        by the way it is something that can happen when you have aerodynamic movable parts; in fact it is already happened (70s or 80s, somebody help me) and can happen again especially with teams like Virgin, HRT bringing such devices on their cars and with no testing at all!

        1. You may have been thinking of the early ’70’s (’72?) and the movable wings. They were eventually barred as of Spain (Montjuich?).

          Another CABC (or is it CBAC? lol) inovation for Lotus.

          1. its actually ACBC. lol

      2. I dont understand why people are so bitter about other teams having a technological advantage in certain areas. I’m a Ferrari fan, but it’s great to see that even with ever tighter regulations teams like McLaren and Red Bull are still finding ways to steal the march on their opponents with clever innovations. After all, isn’t that one of the main attractions of F1?

        1. Totally agree. I find the development aspect exciting. It is one of the reasons why we have a contructor’s title, no?

        2. I can see it from both sides of the table here: part of F1 has always been the innovation side of it and doing whatever you can to go faster and that’s great.

          On the other hand, if one team figures something out that makes such a major difference to lap times that it makes results almost predictable, it can make the actual spectacle of the races a bit boring – especially if it’s not the team you “support” ;)

        3. I completely agree with you, but we must understand what is a clever solution; for example:
          renault’s mass damper was a clever solution: it was safe and efficient, but it had influence on the aerodynamics of the car and was declared illegal (because it was movable!)
          Double diffuser was a clever solution,
          front wing bridge was a clever solution and many other examples can be done.
          Now the f-duct is a clever solution?
          In performance obviusly: it allows to set up a car with maximum downforce and at the same time have low drag, but to manually stall or not a wing is it safe? switch on or switch off aerodynamics does’nt seem to be the best thing in terms of safety.

          1. I don’t see why theres a safety issue here. The sheer simplicity of the system means that the only thing that can go wrong is that the pipe could get blocked, this is seriously unlikely to happen in the area that gets blocked by the driver so if it did go wrong it would get stuck without being able to stall NOT without downforce.

            The only moving part is the driver, so I don’t see it going wrong really.

          2. Are we sure it’s switch on/switch off? We don’t know how the thing works all we’ve seen are hypothesis about how it work. That’s why most of the major teams are not rushing to install a device. They understand that McClaren took eighteen months to develop the device so they can’t just stick something on a car and expect similar results.

        4. one more vote for DanThorn!

        5. There is on aspect of it that makes me think that Mclaren itself was in doubt whether it is a legal device or not: The mechanism to activate it. If you think some innovation you made is kosher, you’d probably make the drivers operate it with their hands or feet. When you make them operate it with thier knees, you are really trying to make it somewhat invisible and hope the officials will miss it.

          1. I’d like to think their hands and feet are busy doing other things to be honest

          2. Yeah like that big duct going into the rear wing is “invisble” …

          3. What exactly is their left foot busy with when they are driving on a straight? Or, will pressing a button or pulling a lever with one of their hands (in the straight) reduce their capacitiy to drive? Perhaps the next device Mclaren come up with will have the drivers operating it by switching the weight of their bodies to the right cheek of their butockses as not to impair their driving skills.
            Patrickl – The duct is not invisible but I bet Mclaren would have prefered to keep its funtion and method of operation hidden. One could argue that they intended to keep it hidden from the competition rather than the officials, but I believe it was both.

    2. Too right, but not about crashing, but about ‘moveable’ parts. Something has to move to open something else, right? And as they say, no moveable part is allowed (except wheel shaft obviously).

      1. I think that’s the genius of it though, it doesn’t have any moving parts. The driver is the moving part, and you can’t stop him moving.

        Also it won’t be accidently stalled because the driver will have to lower his knee to brake for the corner, opening the duct, unstalling the wing. Not that I think it makes enough difference to cause an accident.

        That’s my take on it anyway.

    3. Good idea.

      Throttle pedal too – the outcome if a driver accidentally forgot to release it would be unthinkable.

  4. About time indeed!

    I wasn’t expecting anything before 2011 though, so its a pleasant surprise that they seem to have brought it forward.

  5. inc0mmunicado
    1st April 2010, 14:42

    They’ll be a part of the bargeboard’s now…

  6. Five Red Lights
    1st April 2010, 14:43

    The most disturbing point in that article is that HRT use them…. don’t they need to look at them 86% of the race?
    Glad they’re gone, the cars will look way better without them too

  7. Is this an april fools joke? (seems to me it is)

    1. I think it is. No articles leading up to this decision.

    2. Prisoner Monkeys
      1st April 2010, 22:19

      No, it’s not. Outboard mirrors were treated as aerodynamic aids first and driver aids second. They only offered a pretty field of vision.

  8. Finally… The day has come! My endless plead has been granted! Thank God. It has been answered beautifully… Now this is what real F1 mirrors are supposed to be. Say, right now I wouldn’t really hate shark fins compared to the outboard mirrors. One has been answered, hopefully more aerodynamic reduction to some real minimal would get the shark fins disappear. Hooray to this great news!

  9. This is an april fools joke. You can’t make such a major change in design in such a short period of time.

    1. That is not true. McLaren tested them over the weekend, but removed them for the race. So they say.

      1. Would it be possible for McLaren to run them as a test to compare both types of wings especially for the purpose of testig the benefit of this ban.

        (This would mean Withmarsh as FOTA president would offer this test as part of a compromise buit between FOTA, FIA and the GDPA – with Schumacher pushing for this with Withing as well)

    2. Yeah they had them on in FP3 and off in qualifying.

      1. Does anyone have a picture of that practice?

    3. If it´s an April Fools joke, it´s a pretty terrible one.

  10. Considering sidepod mirrors have been around for a few years now I wonder why they have decided to ban them now after a few races into the season rather than at the end of the season?

    As far as I remember people like Brundle have been commenting that they should be banned for ages, and although I can’t remember a specific incident I am sure they have been blamed for coming togethers before. So what has changed?

  11. At last… allowing sidepod mounted mirrors simply allowed people a way around the rules that were intended to ban all the extraneous gubbins that had grown up around the bodywork (barge boards, turning vanes, flicks, winglets, etc)… it is quite right that they’ve got rid of this unsafe and detrimental loophole.

    The situation with whatever it is that Red Bull are doing is really muddy. Remember tuned mass dampers ? (http://www.f1fanatic.co.uk/2007/05/31/banned-tuned-mass-dampers/)
    They were banned in 2007 under article 3.15 of the Formula One Technical Regulations banning “moveable aerodynamic devices”. If tuned mass dampers are “moveable aerodynamic devices” then surely something which adjusts ride height is as well ?

    1. I still cant believe the FIA banned the mass dampers. That is exactly the kind of innovation that F1 should encourage, and it was NOT an aerodynamic device at all! What a farce…

      1. Agreed, I was so shocked at the downright, blatant, inexplicable lack of consensus with the regulations. An aerodynamic device which doesn’t make contact with the air? My monocle fell into my tea I was so flabbergasted.

        1. A Renault engineer stated that keeping the car steady offered a slight aerodynamic benefit. FIA then abused that statement to say that the moving bodywork offered a aerodynamic beneft and thus was illegal.

          Insane of course, but that’s what you get when politics get involved in applying rules.

          1. yeah … this is how we get to the polished, say-nothing, bla-bla interviews :-( like you have the right to remain silent, everything you say can be used against you :-( sad …

  12. Good. Well done FiA. Not an April Fools joke. Vettel mentioned it at end of his press conference today in Malaysia, hoping it wouldn’t impact performance too much. Massa though is in favour of them, saying he had no issues using sidepod mirrors and didn’t really want the change. The GPDA were anxious about this after Melbourne, with Barrichello admitting that vibration meant the pod mounted mirrors were not fit for purpose. Rubens drives for one of the teams affected by this ruling, but even he is in favour of ban.

    Mirrors are a necessary part of safety and good racing. If the mirrors are so far out that they cease to become a natural part of the drivers peripheral vision, then they won’t get used as often, damaging the quality of the driving we get to see. Alonso first corner incident at Melbourne is a classic example of that.

    1. Well done FiA.

      There’s a phrase you don’t hear often…

      1. agree. But you can see the different approach now. The cancer was called mosley.

        1. So let’s hope Mosley does not pop up as the brand new F1 Comissioner!

    2. Think Rubens said a few days back that Hamilton wasn’t bothered by them either. It’s a great change nonetheless

      1. Have McLaren ever actually raced with outboard mirrors, as the article states they have tested them in practice but I can’t remember if any of their cars have had them on during a GP.

    3. Vettel wasn’t part of the press conference today!

      Autosport did a Q&A with vettel and their interview mentioned the mirrors.

  13. I don’t remember how long they have had sidepods mirrors…years! And now they discover they’re not effective. In Italy we say “Meglio tardi che mai” (late is better than never), but it is somehow amazing how long it took to understand that those mirrors are uneffective.

  14. I am thinking:
    FIA could not find a way to ban McL F duct
    The other teams cannot modify the monocoque to implement the F duct, because of the regulation.
    Now they have to attach the mirror on the monocoque.
    Would this open an opportunity for the other teams to modify the monocoque (to “attach” the side mirrors) and build a kind of F duct on the mirror holder?
    FIA save face and the other teams can exploit this opportunity.

    1. they could not ban the f duct because its nothing to do with safety

  15. Errr… am I the only one who knows this is an April Fool’s joke?!

    1. Maybe it is eh!
      I just red that the first person to talk about it was Barrichello….

    2. Well I figured it could very well be (an incredibly lame) april fools joke, but that doesn’t mean we can’t argue if we would agree or disagree with the idea.

    3. This would be the best set up for the worst April Fool’s joke ever–the GPDA mentioned several days ago that they wanted the outboard mirrors banned.

      http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/82475

  16. So its the ones shown in the picture above that are banned?

    1. Exactly.

      1. are the boards banned as well, or just the position of the rear view mirrors.

  17. Finally. Those things should have been banned long before now! Hopefully the FIA will go further and mandate making them bigger than they are now too.

    And if this in an April Fool’s joke, I’m coming after you Keith, for getting my hopes up :P

  18. Suspiciously Keith, you are the only person reporting this at the moment!

    If it is true, its a great move!

    1. You’re obviously not looking hard enough. It was plastered all over autosport and at least two other online sites before Keith published his article.

    2. The link to the Autosport story is in the first line…

      1. Ooops! Missed that one! My bad. (I googled it independently from a comment someone made in a previous article of yours Keith).

      2. Whoops! Bloody insomnia sending me blind!

  19. i dont know if many who have commented have done any open wheel racing but i can say from experiance that they dont assist much if at all

  20. Right on! I hated those mirrors.
    I wish the small vertical wings that supported them were also banned.

    On a side note:
    I adored the little teardrop shaped mirrors they used in IndyCars in early/mid 90s:
    http://www.speedcenter.com/features/pix/sc_f0404_00gary.jpg

  21. “Fernando Alonso’s collision with Jenson Button at the first corner of the race might also have been avoided had Alonso had a better view behind him.”

    If button would have actually been behind Alonso it probably wouldn’t have been a problem. In this case Button was alongside Alonso and that’s where these mirrors have such a big blind spot.

    On the other hand Alonso also claims he never saw Schumacher during qualifying. So he must have some trouble seeing what’s behind him too.

  22. It makes you wonder how long any of the drivers actually get to sit in the car and fiddle with things before and during ‘testing’ – let alone practice times.
    If the mirrors are not being useful, why is it only McLaren who realised it and moved them?
    Either the drivers haven’t been complaining or the engineers haven’t been listening! :-)

  23. Note the date.
    Note the lack of sources in the Autosport blurb.

    1. Note the fact that there is no need to be so cynical.

      Note the fact the story appears on a good thirty websites.

  24. If this isnt an April Fools Joke, why has it taken so long? Drivers have been moaning about them for years.

    1. It is the FIA were dealing with here, they are more bothered about other none racing parts like the point systems or start times lol

  25. The simplest, and best bit of safety-oriented rule making in a long while, next year they should make larger mirrors mandatory. The ‘I didn’t see him’ defence (mostly honestly meant I’m sure) has been trotted out far too often over the years.

  26. richard hughes
    1st April 2010, 17:59

    this is the best decision the FIA have ever made :)

  27. It’s about time they banned those mirrors as there only put there for areodynamics

  28. :D

    Joke Detector is beeping here….

    oh, let’s see the date… yes, it is the first day of April!

    1. Instead of FIA being a joke with their decisions, their decision is a joke!?!

  29. The technical regulations papers on that FIA website haven’t been updated yet. I hope this comes true.

  30. If Noble & co at Autosport have reported this as an April fool, then yep, was a good one, but judging by the majority of responses here, the joke’s on the FiA for NOT have fixed this.

    Me? I’m willing to be a mug. I think the mirrors belong inboard on the monocoque. Vibrating mirrors that you have to turn you head to find is detrimental to safety and quality – and we were hearing that from Rubens after last weekend, well before April 1st…

    Fingers crossed, but remain hopeful.

  31. why on earth would this be an april fool’s joke? it’s not a joke!

  32. Happy 1st April everyone!

  33. Hmm, Me suspects that the answer lies in copyright credit for the opening picture of Ferrari at Spa. But if this an `Aprils Fish` as the French say, its hit upon a very important point, that a side pod/base of monocouqe stationed mirror is useless and a danger. On a side impact they would be liable to whiplash and then snapping.

  34. They’d of stuck the mirrors on the rear wings if they thought it would have gained them a tenth :)

  35. Mark from Canada
    2nd April 2010, 2:46

    This is a very good move by the FIA. The teams have reduced the mirrors usefulness to an absolute minimum, and their primary function now is to help aerodynamically by sticking them on the top of long devices ahead of the sidepods.

    I was certainly skeptical about Jean Todt, but this kind of change is a good one for the sport. If he’s behind it, then it’s a very optimistic sign. I don’t want qualifying and races spoiled simply because drivers can’t see who’s behind them. Especially with the largest grid in years.

    It’s a great move, and I’m hopeful the season continues to improve. Looks like rain for Malaysia!

    Mark
    P1-EH

  36. I think these sidepod mirrors were introduced as an excuse for teams to use barge boards.

    These mirrors are supported by ‘poles’ which go down to the floor of the car and are flat in shape at an angle the barge boards were.

    Finally these have been banned on safety grounds, but I think they should have been illegal anyway.

  37. P.S:- I thought all winglets etc were banned, watching this season nearly all the teams have these virtical barge board things next to their sidepods. Some of them have mirrors on, some do not.

    Surely they are not allowed them?!

    1. You’re right – in theory, appendages like the ones on the sidepods were supposed to be banned last year.

      But the problem is, how do you write a rule like that? You need to define what is and isn’t allowed somehow.

      The FIA technical regulations use commonly defined reference points on the car – e.g., the floor – to define zones where constructions like winglets etc… can’t be built. They also limit things like wing sizes.

      However in order to retain some sidepod flow conditioners the designers have moved the location of the sidepods so they can still construct these winglets outside of the excluded areas.

      The result is some winglets remain, albeit less sophisticated than the ones we saw at the end of 2008, before the new rules came in.

      Hope I explained that in a way that makes some sense!

  38. Mark from Canada
    2nd April 2010, 3:55

    I just heard on the BBC that the vertical bargeboards can stay, but the mirrors will move inboard. That’s odd, since I thought the only reason they were allowed those bargeboards was because they were ‘mirror mounts’

    1. The FIA defined certain area’s where aerodynamic surfaces are not allowed. All the flaps and wings that you see now are placed outside of these areas.

      F1Technical had an article about the 2009 regulations. I’m assuming that this is still largely valid.

      http://www.f1technical.net/features/11634

  39. F1 fan in USA
    2nd April 2010, 6:22

    so their justification for changing this rule is because button and alonso collided on the first corner? Thats strange, because i thought button won that race, and alonso finished 4th. didnt seem to bother them too much did it?

  40. Maybe next year around this time we should discuss headlights for F1 cars during the night races.

  41. Just heard on the Radio 5 preview for Malaysia that the team’s now have until Barcelona to implement their new mirror placements. Apparently they don’t have time while on the fly-aways, even though they bring new wings and ducts to seemingly every race…

  42. In a world of minature cameras, one wonders why they cannot find room for a small digital display protected from sunlight such that small cameras could be fitted in the optimum spot for rearward vision and do away with mirrors.
    Mirrors of course cannot breakdown as cameras can but in industrial environments of heat, dirt and vibration in my experience they have proven to be highly reliable.

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