Whiting on defensive driving, track and cockpit safety

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: FIA race director and safety delegate Charlie Whiting gives a revealing interview on driving, track and car safety standards in F1 and other top-level motorsport.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Charlie Whiting on driving standards and safety (Will Buxton)

Fascinating interview with Charlie Whiting, in particular the discussions of why Nico Rosberg’s defensive moves in Bahrain were legal, fence post safety after the death of Dan Wheldon, a new F1 crash barrier tested in Malaysia, the ongoing studies into improving cockpit protection and why Dmitry Suranovich was not penalised following Conor Daly’s horror GP3 crash in Monaco.

Villeneuve gets threats following his blast against protesters (The Globe and Mail)

[Jacques] Villeneuve would not provide details but said Friday he had received some ‘dangerous’ emails since the previous evening. People were reacting to his lengthy criticism of the student protests which he characterised as, among other things, an international embarrassment.”

Protests threaten to overshadow Canadian GP (The Telegraph)

“The ‘nude’ protest started at about 7.30pm local time, as many tourists dined al fresco in downtown Montreal. Protesters said they were naked for a number of reasons: to show the government they have been transparent in their demands to freeze tuition fees; to garner more media attention; and to discourage police from handling them roughly.”

Talentshow in Silverstone in Gefahr (Auto Motor und Sport, German)

Bernie Ecclestone is putting teams under pressure to hold the Young Drivers Test at Abu Dhabi, though most of them want to run at Silverstone.

Raikkonen expects Lotus will improve (Autosport)

“I’m probably missing a little bit of overall grip, but it was quite cool today and it should get a bit warmer. Usually that helps us to get the tyre working better.”

Low downforce, high workload in Montreal (Toro Rosso)

“Some of the updates we brought here are part of our general car development programme, thus adding even more items to check out including, on Daniel [Ricciardo’s] car only, a revised exhaust system. In the short time since free practice ended, it’s hard to give an accurate assessment of its benefits, but step one was achieved in that it ran reliably all day.”

Senna: We will be back (Sky)

“It was a very unfortunate crash where you crash with the rear first and then with the front but they have plenty of spares and we’re going to be back in shape tomorrow. We do have another new rear wing to use.”

HRT mechanic released from hospital (Reuters)

HRT technical director Toni Cuquerella: “He just got some bruises and a swollen leg. He looked worse when it happened but luckily he’s going to be back with us tonight from the hospital.”

McLaren keep their cool in Canada despite spate of F1 problems (The Guardian)

The author reckons McLaren have made “17 errors in the six races so far this season”, including its drivers. That sounds like a lot – anyone fancy working out what all 17 are? Post in the comments…

PURE: 2014 F1 Engine (ScarbsF1)

“The turbo charger is mounted at the back of the engine, which will see it placed above the clutch and set partly inside the gearbox case. The second element of the turbocharger is the compressor; this sits head of the turbine. We can only see one outlet for the compressor, but it’s possible that the casing has two outlets as per the turbine. This will allow for two intercoolers, tidier packaging and critically a better balanced inlet manifold with a pressure feed for both banks.”

Vettel reprimanded over Senna incident (FIA)

Sebastian Vettel got away with a slap on the wrist from the FIA race stewards at the Canadian Grand Prix after he collided with Bruno Senna during free practice.”

Pook takes a peek (Joe Saward)

“Pook, who now lives in Palm Springs, where he has been working on trying to put together an IndyCar street race, is rumoured to be working on a plan to get Formula 1 back to Long Beach in 2015.”

Mea culpa, or me a psychic? (F1 Kate Walker)

“So yesterday I grabbed the wrong end of the stick and wrote a piece about Sky in the UK [reference in yesterday’s round-up], when it turned out the article I was referring to had meant Sky Italia. Oops.”

Comment of the day

There were many very kind comments from readers on the 10,000th article published here yesterday. Thanks to everyone for those.

However I thought it would be big-headed of me to pick one of the for Comment of the Day. Instead, here’s Pedro Costa’s view on practice so far:

Hamilton seemed to be the fastest man today and probably could have done a high 1’14. Although we should not discount Mercedes especially Rosberg, who I think will dispute with Hamilton for pole-position. Ferrari was not bad and they can qualify with both cars in the top six and get maybe a podium in race.

A bit of disappointment with Lotus, even if their Fridays are usually low-key, they didn’t seem to have the pace. They should get better tomorrow and especially Sunday with the temperatures rising.

Force India seems to be set for their best weekend of the year.
Pedro Costa

From the forum

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Stevo!

If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailling me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

Michael Schumacher tightened his grasp on the 2002 season with his sixth win in eight race in the Canadian Grand Prix.

David Coulthard was second for McLaren ahead of Rubens Barrichello.

Image © Mercedes/Hoch Zwei

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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73 comments on “Whiting on defensive driving, track and cockpit safety”

  1. Really enlightening interview with Charlie Whiting, the man at the eye of the storm in F1. I think the point we’re at safety-wise is interesting, whereby the vast majority of accidents are not only survivable, but very possible to walk away from with only minor injuries, or none at all. Serious injury or death is now a freak occurence, to the point where something has to happen for safety advances to be made.

    Take, for example, Dale Earnhart, whose death led to the development of the HANS device, which has saved the lives or Robert Kubica and others, or Henry Surtees and Felipe Massa’s injury, which has now raised the issue of the safety of open cockpit cars. That we live in such a safe time is great, but Whiting as much as anyone is aware of the danger of complacency.

    1. The Whiting interview, as opposed to its intent, actually showed why Rosberg should have been penalized.

      I was saying back then, no matter who moved when frame-by-frame, the sheer, palpable agressivity and intimidation (aimed at a competitor) packed into Rosberg’s maneuver was un-sportsmanlike.

      Now read these excerpts from the interview:


      If we go back to those Rosberg incidents, potentially in a young driver’s mind it may have been on the limit but perhaps it’s now OK to push somebody off.

      Perception is 95% of reality.


      I’ve heard clerks of the course say to me, ‘This bloody driver said to me, well if Michael Schumacher can do that, then so can I.’

      why Nico wasn’t penalised. Because when I first saw it I said, ‘Wow, he can’t do that.’

      So interviewee and interviewer both acknowledge that such moves clearly send the wrong message to younger drivers and fans alike, yet Whiting and the stewards somehow still feel appropriate to let perpetrators off the hook based on a split-second posterior analysis.

      Would this kind of sophistry be acceptable in other sports?

      Could moves that look vicious from the outside and make everyone gasp, be cleared because a back-office team analyzed the action and announced that the guy’s leg/hand/whatever actually begin to move 12 milliseconds before the other guy’s leg/hand/whatever, so it’s OK, even though it seemed very much not OK to everyone at that instant (including a Whiting-level expert of the sport)?

    2. Indeed @lin1876 a very nice interview and good insight.

      MJ4 – What you write is nonsense, how can you punish Rosberg for the “wrong message sent” by the FIA’s lack of informing the world combined with peoples inclination to judge on appearances?

      Instead the FIA should just publish all of that extra footage and information that led the Stewards to their conclusions.

      1. If you’d gone through the interview, you would see that it was Rosberg’s (Schumacher’s etc.) move that sends the wrong message, regardless of what the replays tell on a microsecond-by-microsecond basis.

        All the excerpts, and all the reactions quoted in them (‘if Schu can do it, so can I’, ‘wow, he can’t do that’) refer to these actual moves, if you care to read them. They are not about the stewards’ decision not properly communicated. They are about the perception side of what drivers do.

  2. 17…
    1 Poor pitstop for Hamilton (?)
    2 Hamilton reckons his start was poor
    3 Gearbox penalty for Hamilton
    4 Pitstop error for Button
    5 Pitstop error for Hamilton (maybe 2?)
    6 Button collides with NK
    7 Think Hamilton had another poor pitstop
    8 Button generally off-pace
    9 Refuelling error for Hamilton
    10 Hamilton clips used wheel after pitstop
    11 Button generally off pace
    12 Hamilton has poor start
    13 Button makes one or two mistakes plus off pace
    14 Pitboard panels dropped on Hamilton

    Might be 17 in there. I lost track of the number of pitstop errors, or if they include the driver being slow an error.

    1. Monaco
      15 Not keeping Hamilton updated about Vettel

      Can’t think of any more…

    2. red bull and ferrrari errors- 0

      1. @sato113, you forget RBR not getting Webber back out in Q2 Spanish GP, he would probably be comfortable WDC leader now but for that. Still he’s not bitching about it.

      2. @sato113

        red bull and ferrrari errors- 0

        Big one for Webber as mentioned above…. sitting in the pits in Q2 Spain GP, he was also released behind (the wrong side of) a gaggle of cars, I forget which race.
        >..But you are correct in they have mainly been very minor, like Massa getting very poor strategy calls unless you just count that as him being slow and not helping himself.

        Against that, Mclaren errors have been clear for all to see and they’ve lost maybe 50 points (maybe more) because of them.

    3. Thought of another one:

      9 Refuelling error for Hamilton.

      That should be two mistakes. One, not refuelling Hamilton’s car properly, and two, not telling him to get back to the pits instead of keeping him on track…

      So that’s 16 so far… ?

      1. well not really 2. one led to the other so without the first mistake there wouldnt be a second.

        1. there still was a second one which even Whitmarsh acknowledged later

    4. My one looks like this:
      1. Telling Hamilton to alter his clutch mapping in Australia.
      2. Poor pitstop for Lewis in Australia.
      3. Button hits Karthikeyan in Malaysia.
      4. Poor pitstop for Lewis in Malaysia.
      Gearbox penalty doesn’t count as it occured organically rather than personnel error
      5. Poor pitstop for Jenson in China.
      6. Poor pitstop for Lewis in China.
      7. Poor pitstop for Lewis in Bahrain.
      8. Another poor pitstop for Lewis in Bahrain.
      9. Refueling error in Spain.
      10. ‘Force majeure’ as an excuse for human error.
      11. Hamilton knocks an old rear wheel while exiting the pits.
      12. Hamilton poor start at Monaco.
      13. Hamilton’s Monaco pit wall-car communication. Oblivious of need to push to cover other cars.
      14. Button’s Monaco strategy.
      15. Button on Heikki.

      And the more general all encompassing errors:

      16. Sam Michael – the man under whose watch the pitstops have become atrocious.

      17. Martin Whitmarsh – for engendering an atmosphere of accepted mediocrity. The meticulousness of the Dennis era has been gradually eroded over the past five years. From memory, leaving tools in Jensons car; underfilling Lewis in Canada; underfilling Lewis in Spain; a consistent streak of slow pit stops; a consistent streak of sub-par strategies. A culture of shifting blame with lame excuses declaring mischance rather than learning from each mistake. Lack of ruthlessness.

      1. Would dropping pit board numbers on Hamilton count?

        1. We don’t know who actually did that; there’s no guarantee that McLaren were the culprits. Maybe it was Red Bull, so Seb could get in front and grab another two points.

          1. I’d hardly call it an error by any means. I’m guessing that the cards weren’t placed in their slots properly, and they came loose. Even if it was a deliberate act, I very much doubt it slowed Hamilton down at all.

          2. @prisoner-monkeys yes but ham was already frustrated about his race. having an amateur mistake from the team such as dropping numbers on his head would have just p***ed him off even more.

          3. @sato113 – Was it ever confirmed that McLaren were the ones losing the numbers from their boards? I seem to recall Hamilton telling the team that “someone” was dropping numbers, alerting them to the problem so that they could let the offending team know, given that Hamilton couldn’t exactly radio whoever it was.

          4. It wasn’t confirmed who it was, as in the individual, but I though it was as good as confirmed that it was his own team. The BBC were strongly suggesting it was his own team on the red button later.

        2. Only if they were sequential.

    5. @matt90 – Even though Button won in Australia, Martin Whitmarsh admitted that the car was so under-fuelled that Button had to enter an “extreme fuel-saving mode” on lap 8 just to make it to the end of the race.

      1. I forgot about that. A blunder of sorts I suppose, but because his car was that fast and able to run at such a fast pace regardless might go some way to negate that as being one of the 17.

    6. @matt90 I don’t think there was a pit error for Lewis in Australia, Vettel simply got ahead thanks to the safety car.

      Also, two pit stop errors in Bahrain.

      1. Yeah, I think I imagined the slow pitstop happening as well as the safety car stop. Probably because I forgot about Bahrain completely and knew I was missing pitstop errors somewhere.

        1. @matt90 I remember it being a double pit stop for McLaren – just checked and Hamilton’s pit stop was 6 tenths slower than Jenson’s (which was the fastest pit stop of the race, excluding Ferrari), but it wasn’t decisive.

          Simply a case of safety car coming down and everyone slowing down, meaning pit stop time loss decreases heavily. That allowed Vettel to comfortably jump Lewis.

          1. Safety car coming out, rather.

          2. @enigma I meant that I thought I imagined it being his other pit stop that race. I know he only lost out to Vettel through bad luck.

          3. @matt90 Ah, got it wrong – sorry!

    7. You forgot the one of the biggest blunders. 2 pitstop blunders on the left-rear in Bahrain for Hamilton

  3. “[Jacques] Villeneuve would not provide details but said Friday he had received some ‘dangerous’ emails since the previous evening. People were reacting to his lengthy criticism of the student protests which he characterised as, among other things, an international embarrassment.”

    Well, what was Controversial Jacques expecting? When you stick your neck out, sometimes the axe falls.

    1. I somehow expect him to already have a good idea of what his frank remarks tend to loosen in people, but maybe this was just a bit more, well aimed at persons @prisoner-monkeys?

  4. Having bumped into the “naked” protesters on the way to dinner last night, I can honestly say I didn’t understand it a bit. Some interesting pictures though. A ton more security today on the way to my seat inside the circuit. The primary entry checkpoint has been moved all the way across the bridge to the city side. To be fair the worst part of the day wasn’t lewd protesters or pushy security but the heavy deluge that monsooned the track just after P2 completed. Wet shoes for tomorrow!

    1. Can’t help but wonder if the nude protestors kept themselves neat and tidy

    2. Just how hard did you “bump” into them.?

      1. I think some users here are trying to make McLaren look worse than they’ve actually been looking this season so far, yes Vettel benefited from the Safety Car because he was passed the sector where the yellow flags were, enabled to do another lap at full speed, not from a poor pit-stop for Hamilton. Oddly, McLaren did a great job in pitting both Button & Hamilton respectively at the same & getting them out on time. Perhaps like @alexf1man said, it was possibly one of McLaren’s rivals, most likely Red Bull but I highly doubt something intentional of that calibur would be done.

        McLaren told Hamilton to change the clutch settings during the formation lap in Australia? Well that’s the first time I’ve heard such thing. Furthermore, well we only know in Monaco that Hamilton was suffering from papers from pit-boards coming at him whilst on the pit-straight, I think it was easy to assume that it was McLaren behind this because of their previous history in making the simplest of mistakes, most notably this season obviously, honestly I jumped on the blame McLaren wagon instantly, but regardless we don’t actually who was causing the issue for Hamilton, perhaps like @alexf1man said, it was possibly one of McLaren’s rivals, most likely Red Bull but I highly doubt something intentional of that calibur would be done.

        The point is that obviously, these silly, simple ‘monumental cockups’ from an elite team in Motorsport are hampering their world-class drivers very dearly in both championships, even without the ‘cockups’, they’re still doing slow pit-stops that are over 4 seconds whilst their rivals are doing pit-stops potentially just under 3 seconds.

  5. James (@goodyear92)
    9th June 2012, 3:34

    Ok I’ll have a guess at those errors.

    1. Australia – Lewis told to change clutch setting, resulting in slow start.
    2. Malaysia – Jenson hitting Narain.
    3. Malaysia – Poor pitstop for Lewis
    4. Malaysia – Poor pitstop number two for Lewis, this time due to tape on the brake ducts.
    5. China – Poor pitstop for Jenson Button
    6. Bahrain – Poor pitstop for Lewis
    7. Bahrain – Poor pitstop number two for Lewis.
    8. Spain – Jenson fails to make Q3
    9. Spain – Under fueling Lewis’ car resulting in him being DSQ from qualifying.
    10. Monaco – Jenson fails to make Q3
    11. Monaco – Lewis told to change clutch setting, resulting in slow start.
    12. Monaco – General lack of communication from pits, resulting in a loss of position for Lewis.
    13. Monaco – Jenson hits Heikki and retires.
    I can’t think of anymore definite errors from drivers or team, just thinks that are a consequence of bad luck.

    1. try not to include driver errors. the lists are long enough with mclaren stupidity in the pits alone!

      1. But…..

        McLaren have made “17 errors in the six races so far this season”, including its drivers.


        1. yeah but i still dont think we should look at driver errors. they happen anyway, but the team should really be ontop of things.

      2. Generally, McLaren’s pit-stops have been very slow, even if you take away the notable issues they’ve been having.

  6. I’m still not so certain about the sound of those new engines – the similar v6 turbo IndyCar engines sound pretty boring to me. I know its the course of the future ( to go electric, smaller, less fuel…) but high revs are just so fun!

    1. Interesting that a little start-up like “PURE” can build an F1 engine on spec, but according to most of you “the cost of engine development would bankrupt the teams”!

      1. @hohum – I think that’s an excuse put forward by people who oppose the 2014 engines because they think they will sound terrible/are too small/are too green/whatever reason they have for disliking them.

      2. I thought the same @hohum, after all so far we have only heard what the manufacturers are asking for their solutions, no word on PURE’s price. Could well be they either wait for a maximum set by the FIA, or just give teams a nice brochure with a unobtrusive comment, that 12-14 million for the whole set will do nicely @hohum!

        I was also wondering about wether PURE will offer their engines to sportscar racing teams, after the FIA and AKO have enabled such engines from 2013 onwards.

        1. @bascb, I think that last point is a great one – it greatly increases the potential market for PURE even if the established F1 engine providers aren’t interested in AKO at this time.

        2. @bascb,Yes a good point, extra marketing possibilities and possibly a less restrictive fuel profile will allow them to run full power at lower revs for endurance racing.
          @prisoner-monkeys, I was referring to engine development in general, not just the new engine, but point taken, some people just don’t like change, and depending on when they started following F1 they have different outlooks.

    2. I think Formula Renault 3.5 run V6 engines and they sound alright, so I’m praying the F1 engines sound something like that. Really not looking forward to losing the current tune of the V8s.

      And on that note, did anyone else notice they’d moved the camera from the outside of the entry to the final chicane back down the straight a bit? It’s now before the braking zone so the cars come past on the limiter in 7th and it was giving me goosebumps! Easily the best F1 sound I’ve heard since the V10s.

      1. @damonsmedley, I wonder if there is a recording of a BRM H16 out there somewhere ?

  7. “Pook, who now lives in Palm Springs, where he has been working on trying to put together an IndyCar street race, is rumoured to be working on a plan to get Formula 1 back to Long Beach in 2015.”

    I don’t think a third race in America is viable just yet. At the very least, Long Beach would want to wait until Austin and New Jersey have had their races before committing one way or the other.

    1. I would expect the same. It does show though, that there are several projects being worked on that could step up when these 2 events do work out, thats a good sign.

      1. @bascb – Saward suggests that if the planned races in Argentina and Mexico come to fruition, then there’s a better chance that a race could take place at Long Beach.

        1. Its quite possible, with these races making watching in the America’s a bit less of a nightshift only experience, it should be possible to get extra fans.

  8. “On this day in F1

    Lewis Hamilton scored his first F1 victory five years ago today.

    He won a dramatic Canadian Grand Prix which was interrupted by a shocking crash involving Robert Kubica, who was fortunate to escape serious injury.

    Nick Heidfeld finished second ahead of Alexander Wurz.
    2007 Canadian Grand Prix review – Hamilton wins in Canadian carnage”

    This should be on tomorrow’s page, otherwise the race would’ve taken place on a Saturday.

    Maybe you could include the 2002 Canadian Grand Prix instead.

    1. Yep. Five years plus two February-29ths.

  9. TERS sounds vaguely like anti-lag to me… I wonder if it will produce a similar sound?

    1. @satchelcharge – TERS has nothing to do with anti-lag. It’s a waste heat recovery unit, and is designed to harvest the energy given off by the engine in the form of heat.

      1. “In some cases the team will reuse the TERS energy into the main KERS boost (directly or via a battery) or reuse the TERS energy back into the turbo.” This is what makes me think “vaguely anti-lag.” Can you elaborate on your view, or share with me what you think that bold part could manifest as? You’ve really done nothing more than explain the TERS acronym, I’m not quite that thick.

      2. Reusing the TERS energy back into the turbo is done exactly for what @satchelcharge mentions, namely to shorten the turbo lag because it keeps the turbo spinning.

        1. @bascb, but how exactly do they convert the heat into electricity, a steam turbine sounds unlikely on a F1 engine.

          1. The turbo is not much more than a compressor that gets spinning by using hot exhaust gasses, or thermal energy, (indeed much like a turbine does in an electricity plant), to have higher density air go into the cylinders.

  10. Now I did make a bit of fun of JV criticizing everyone for criticizing everything, but to send him threats …

    This really seems to be completely over the top for something like a $ 250 hike in tuition fees.

    1. @bascb – I think it had more to do with the way JV criticised them, rather than the fact that he crticised them in the first place. He likened them to spoiled children and claimed that their plans to block the Montreal Metro on Sunday could be considered domestic terrorism.

      1. Probably PM, still its more of a good example how soon people are enraged nowadays than a measured reaction.
        Even if I do think JV sounded a bit too much like many from Bahrain telling the world everything was fine and the protesters were only badly behaving kids.

    2. Is it really only $250? I at least thought it was going up by a large percentage.

      1. Well, 10% is quite a big percentage raise for some.
        But it does mean, that Canada is still amongst the cheaper places in the developed world.

  11. Not ever so impressed with Charlie in recent years, and a move towards narrowing down the rules into absolute, set in stone tenants (presumably to make rule enforcement more transparent, consistent and resistant to legal appeals) has really stymied the mindset of the drivers to race with their guts and their hearts. I feel people are afraid to make difficult judgements that might upset people, so “well, its in the rules. Just.”

  12. The Charlie Whiting interview is brilliant. It’s good to see that he is a realist and appreciates that there is only so much you can do with regards to safety. I found the parts about looking into new types of fencing and the proposed roll hoop/tyres deflector particularly interesting. I’d forgotten Will mentioned he was having a chat with him so thanks for the link @keithcollantine

    Also Scarb’s piece on the PURE development, wow. I’ve always found trade-offs between various components in F1 fascinating and I can’t wait to see this develop further.

    Top quality round-up!

  13. Richie Stanaway will miss the rest of the Formula Renault 3.5 season after his dreadful rash at Spa last weekend

    Must be a pretty bad rash then!

  14. Both Rosberg moves do defend his position against Lewis and Alonso were at Sakhir were wrong and I don’t need Mr Todt to validate my judgment.

  15. 2014 is going to be a horrible year because F1 will stop meaning what it does to me now. Drivers having to drive at a speed the tyres can handle, new engines means drivers having to fuel save for most if not all of the race, V6 engines and then on top of that this stupid idea of front roll hoops or enclosed cockpits won’t go away. May as well charge £1 a ride and stick it in a fairground because it’ll be about as exciting as the dodgems.

    1. I know what you mean. It’s starting to feel as if some of the changes are intentionally targeted to annoy me. It just feels that whilst someone, somewhere feels they have the best intentions for the sport by doing this or that, the implications for the spectacle are lost.

  16. Once again Jacques lets his mouth go off about something that he has no knowledge of. As a foreigner I find the protests nothing short of inspirational.

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