Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2013

Cameraman taken to hospital after pit lane incident

2013 German Grand Prix

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Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2013The FIA has confirmed British cameraman Paul Allen has been taken to hospital after being struck by a wheel during the German Grand Prix.

A statement released by the sport’s governing body said: “During the German Grand Prix, an FOM cameraman in pit lane was struck by a loose wheel. Paul Allen was hit on the left hand side.

“Remaining conscious, he was treated at the circuit medical centre and then transported by helicopter to Koblenz Hospital.

“The Briton has been kept there, under observation. Further information from the hospital will be provided as soon as it becomes available.”

Allen was hit by a wheel which came off Mark Webber’s Red Bull when he made his first pit stop during the race. The team are under investigation for releasing Webber’s car unsafely from the pit box.

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Keith Collantine
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49 comments on “Cameraman taken to hospital after pit lane incident”

  1. Magnificent Geoffrey (@magnificent-geoffrey)
    7th July 2013, 15:15

    Once of the most sickening sights I’ve seen in F1 for a while. We should consider ourselves VERY lucky that we haven’t seen anyone more seriously injured in these last two weekends with all the shockingly dangerous stuff that’s been occurring during races.

    Let’s hope for a swift recovery. Red Bull need to have a very serious look at their pit procedures – that’s the second time this year that they’ve sent a car off with a loose wheel in the pits…

    1. Traverse (@)
      7th July 2013, 15:40

      Maybe cameramen shouldn’t be in the pit area. Surely they can film pitstops from the balcony above? This was an accident waiting to happen.

      1. Maybe cameramen shouldn’t be in the pit area

        I think this is not the point , the tyre could have caught a mechanic or someone that works in the pit and then what we will say ?? that mechanic should not be in the pit ???

        1. @tifoso1989 The point here is reducing the number of people in the pitlane, and honestly there is no real reason why there should be that many cameramen among the mechanics.

          1. @guilherme If you think that this was bad, take a look at Le Mans pits: a lot more people – cameramen, photographers, pit reporters, and not to mention 55 cars. Now that is a mess.

      2. @hellotraverse They could also install those automatic cameras running on wires along the pitlane. They have those at the hairpin at Hockenheimring and in the pitlane at Interlagos, and they work really well.

        But that got me thinking: if the tyre that fell off was the rear left one, it could have ended up in some team’s pitwall too, and there is no protection for the engineers sitting there. I’d say that is a very likely scenario that should be seriously looked at.

        1. @guilherme I think head protection for pit wall members will be mandatory next year. I remember reading it, probably on this site, but I may be wrong.

          1. I think that incident was quite funny! Even with all the technology they have, they can’t even put on a wheel! LOL WHEN HE FELL DOWN!

            Cameraman: Oh look! A wheel coming towards me! I better film it for people watching in 3D! OUCH! That hurt! I hope I gave the viewers a great 3D moment! I did break my COLLARBONE BUT WHO CARES??!!!

          2. @fixy Fair enough, but that would look quite amusing, with all pitwall members using helmets… wouldn’t it be easier to move them to inside the pit building.

          3. @michaelf1

            Wow, that’s a sort of tasteless joke don’t you think? The cameraman wasn’t facing the loose tyre that was coming his way, couldn’t hear it and had very little time to react (even if he had been aware).

            He had absolutely no protection for the impact and was very lucky to not be more seriously injured, even death might have not been far. There’s nothing funny with any of this…

          4. Traverse (@)
            7th July 2013, 20:54

            My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw it live. I’m pleasantly surprised that he isn’t hurt as the impact looked brutal. The €30,000 fine that RBR have to pay should be forwarded to the cameraman.

          5. Traverse (@)
            7th July 2013, 20:57

            *My heart literally skipped a beat when I saw it live. I’m pleasantly surprised that he isn’t critically hurt as the impact looked brutal. The €30,000 fine that RBR have to pay should be forwarded to the cameraman.

          6. @Michael– If you thought that incident was so funny, then you are a sociopath. That cameraman was risking his life so fans of formula one could watch the race without being there in person. If you were as committed to f1 as that cameraman, it would have been you hit from behind by a tire. And that’s not funny. I bet you laugh when old ladies slip on the ice too.

  2. I hope Red Bull get a severe penalty from this, not just a fine but something to actually make them look at their pit procedures rather than being able to brush off a fine of some sort.

    1. There isn’t too much wrong in their procedure. It’s just miscommunication. I’ve seen Mclaren did that, I’ve seen Mercedes did that. Only difference is the wheel came off in the pit lane this time.

      The only problem I found wrong is the rear jack man, he shouldnt release the jack so early. And I don’t know how the new traffic light is operated, is it auto or controlled by a former “lollipop man”? If it’s a lollipop man controlled light then he shouldn’t give the signal.

      But other than that, the wheel man done his job right, Webber saw the signal to go too. I don’t think there is anything horribly wrong in their procedure.

    2. Agreed. Too much of this and the unsafe releases too, needs to more than a fine.

    3. Watch this in slow mo –

      what was the mechanic trying to say motioning to the others? to take off the wheel again? it is not clear at all, the lollipop guy clearly interpreted it as “release him already.” quite clearly the internal communication is at fault here.

      oh, and the impact is brutal. there is nothing remotely funny about it. the cameraman was facing away and couldn’t see the wheel coming.

  3. Now I find myself tuning into F1 races for comic relief.

    I perfectly understand that all of these are dangerous circumstances, but between to popping tyres last week and the rolling tyre and car this week, I have been fairly amused.

    But, on the other hand, the FIA must buck up. Are these just chance incidents, or do it mean F1 safety not up to par anymore?

    1. clearly it is not. drivers protesting tire situation? заааб they should think about safety regs with the FIA.

  4. I second that @magnificent-geoffrey and at first I thought he’s easily broken a vertebrae. I’ve seen Rugby tackles softer than that which have lead to fractures, even spinal damage. Just watching the way he wasn’t moving the lower part of his body made me very concerned.
    Very, very surprised it wasn’t worse than it was. They do need cameramen in the pitlane but perhaps they should be suited up similarly like the pit crew with atleast a helmet!

  5. Lucky indeed. I’m sure Red Bull are going to be fined heavily for making this blunder again this year. Looks like, we may end up seeing more changes in the pit lane regulations in the coming years. They could even place some static cameras in many crucial spots. Many popular sports equip skycam in their stadiums and perhaps, this could be a good opportunity to explore that option.

    1. but that’s not the point, is it? what if that was a mechanic facing away? a helmet wouldn’t save him, as the wheel hit the cameramen in the back. ok, say FIA will remove cameramen from pits. what next? are they gonna wait when a wheel will hit someone else? and then remove said personnel as well? is that a proper solution? the problem is the unsafe release, and more specifically the release of cars with unfit wheels. something should be done about THAT first and foremost.

  6. Jared404 (@)
    7th July 2013, 15:27

    Perhaps they need less people working on the car when it pits so that the lolly-pop man can see what 4 people are up to and not the crowd that is there at the moment.

  7. Dion (@infinitygc)
    7th July 2013, 15:40

    The worst thing is, I can already see this in one of those terrible “Funniest home videos”-shows, taken completely out of context ofcourse.

  8. Most terrifying thing i have ever seen in an F1 race. I thought the wheel hit his head, which is always fatal.

    Firstly, bring in the lolly pop man.
    and then punish RBR severely. Just a fine wont do.

  9. happy to know he is okay . I find Red bull can be as efficient as Mclaren when it comes to Webber.

  10. There absolutely should be very harsh penalty for this kind of mistake – black flag and huge financial penalty for the team. Pursuing tenths in stops is not worth causing potential danger to health and life of people in pit lane.

    1. @armchairexpert Black flag?! What, are we back to Max Mosley’s days now? I’m sorry but that would have been over the top considering the precedent for this sort of incident. Red Bull should have a punishment of some sort, but black-flagging the team? I’m sorry but that sounds like a punishment only an anti-RBR person would like to see.

      Furthermore, that would have achieved nothing, the mechanic was trying to fix the wheel – he had his hand in it when Webber drove out – so clearly he didn’t give the go for the car to go out. The problem is that the teams have replaced the lollipop man by an automatic lights system, but every team does that, and problems have happened with quite a few teams over the years. Singling out Red Bull for that seems kinda like a vendetta of some sort.

      I’d say, let only the absolute minimum people required to work on the car into the pitlane, and mandate an actuall lollipop man instead of a automatic lights system, and punish the teams more harshly, not the drivers – they have absolutely no fault.

      1. Aditya (@adityafakhri)
        7th July 2013, 17:02

        it’s not about anti RBR sentiment, it’s all about safety.
        do you remember Hungarian GP 2009 when Renault nearly got race bans? (Alonso’s wheels going off). it didn’t hurt anyone. and now the RBR case. it brings a victim.
        the automatic light system wasn’t really automatic I suspect, there’s always parameters that would make sure things are okay. RBR really needs to clear this out.

        1. @adityafakhri That’s exactly why I said “are we back to Max Mosley’s days now”. That penalty was unfair then, and it would be unfair now.

          1. @guilherme
            Difference was that they knew the wheel was loose and they didn’t tell him to stop.

          2. @mike-dee Fine, if Renault’s infraction was worse then, I don’t see why Red Bull would deserve a similar penalty! :P

  11. another proof that the safest place during a f1 race, is inside the car. Now the camera men must menace with a boycott for the next gp, and if you ask me with more right than the drivers, sorry prima donnas i meant.

    1. Not sure it would help much being sat in a car when hit by this tyre!

  12. I hope that he recovers. A lot of you want to see the whole team punished for this accident, but the truth is that it was not the whole team who made the error. From the replays that I have seen it was lollipop man. He had a rush of adrenaline and released Mark because he thought all mechanics had finished. He obviously didn’t pay attention to what was going on. I do not believe you can punish the whole team for an incident like that.
    I am sure the Red Bull mechanics feel guilty enough as it is.

    1. Firstly, it’s impractical for the governing body to punish a single mechanic on a team. Is he going to pay the fine on his own? That’s a massive disincentive to even work as an F1 mechanic. Generally, as an employee, the company absorbs liability for your actions related to your work, and it should be no different here. The team hires, trains, and maintains employment of the mechanics. Those mechanics are their responsibility, and it’s their liability. If the lollypop man in this case (though I believe they use a light system so no classic lollypop man) made the mistake, it’s up to the team to pay the fine and then decide internally the fate of that mechanic. Same reason a team can’t have something go wrong with the car and say “well this individual mechanic made a mistake causing the gearbox to fail, so we’d like a do-over or for him to pay damages” or “our driver crashed out but everyone else on our team did perfectly so we should get some constructors points.” Not to mention, the root cause of this mistake is that RBR is pushing for faster and faster pit stops, just scraping sub-2 second stops. They know mistakes are more likely to happen when they push their mechanics to perform near the limit, and they own the resulting liability for that.

      Interestingly, it can go both ways for drivers because, in a sense, they’re both part of a team (and drive for Constructor’s championship points) and also perform as an individual athlete (WDC). It doesn’t work that way for mechanics.

  13. Initial reports are that he’s fortunately not too badly hurt, Cracked ribs & a broken shoulder.
    Paul’s been at FOM for a long time & has spent a lot of time working the pit lane.

    Regarding camera operators in the pit lane, Precautions are taken to ensure the best possible safety for the guys. There is a safety line infront of the garages which there told to stay behind when infront of a car going down the pit lane & there usually told not to turn there back to oncoming traffic (Surprised Paul seemed to do this considering his vast experience). They are allowed to cross the pit lane to go over to the pit wall but take the same precautions the team members do in terms of watching for cars entering the lane (Helped by the buzzer).

    To be honest I don’t think anything really has to change, Other than to re-emphasize how to stay as safe as possible when roaming the pits.
    The fact this is the 1st time an FOM camera operator has ever been injured in the lane shows that these precautions work 99.9% of the time. What happened today was just a very unfortunate accident.

    I’ve worked the pit lane & it can be pretty chaotic place at times, But as long as everyone is paying attention & using common sense there is usually no problems.

  14. Unless something is done to stop/prevent it, this sort of problem will keep happening in this mad dash for shorter pit stops.

    Could it be possible to implement a safety system that simply prevents the car from starting if one of the tyres hasn’t been properly secured to the hub? I’m not engineer, so I have no idea how it could be done, but I’m thinking of some sort of hub sensor that prevents the car from shifting into gear (or otherwise prevents the car from starting) if it detects a fault.

  15. Webber’s OnBoard from when he lost the wheel in the pits, Note the traffic light system at top of screen.


    I think that was down to these traffic light systems, He probably saw the light go off & then went, Pulling his attention back to driving down the pit lane & not seeing the light come back on.
    Had that been a man holding a lollipop, Having a lolipop pulled back down infront of your face is much easier to see.

    1. So to some extent Webber gets a small bit of blame as well.

    2. They should improve the system. If after the light goes green, it goes red again, it should automatically transmit “Stop, stop, stop” to the driver’s headphones.

  16. Should they ban traffic light systems?

    Would having a lollypop improve safety?

  17. I wonder if now they need to impose a limit of how many of the crew can be in the pit lane during the race, similar to Le Mans were only 2 can work on a car during a stop. I know the teams want quicker pitstops but if they are slowed down just a few seconds then mistakes are less likely to happen.

  18. Tyres can do much harm. Think of the 2000 Italian GP marshal Ghislimberti who died after being struck in the head by a wheel, or Henry Surtees in 2009 that also died whilst racing and being struck – on the helmet – by a wheel.
    This cameraman, although the incident was very unfortunate, is lucky to be, apparently, pretty much fine.
    And there could have been more than one person struck by the wheel, so we have been fortunate this time: now let’s try to prevent it from happening again.

  19. I know it wouldn’t have necessarily made a difference in todays incident but EVERYBODY who is in the “hot” area of the garage and/or in pitlane/pitwall should be required to wear firesuits & helmets at all times. Crew members, Officials, guys on the Pitwall, Cameramen, Reporters, etc, sure it may be slightly hot & uncomfortable but there is absolutely no reason that something that is regarded as the “Pinnacle of Motorsports” which is ran by the “Most Powerful Sanctioning Body in the World” shouldn’t have safety rules in place that many other smaller/less pinnacle series/sanctioning bodies around the world have.

    Secondly, I’m a firm believer in “pitcrew are not allowed to wait on the car”, meaning that they have to stay behind the wall/line until the car is in the box & stopped.

    Thirdly we need to reduce the amount of people in pitlane and that can be done a few ways.
    — Air Jacks, yes I know people are going to reply to this crying about the added weight, well ya know if it’s a spec part then the weight is the same for each team so that’s really a non-issue. This gets rid of 2 people and also makes it harder for a car to be prematurely released before the wheels are fastened.

    — Only 2 Tire Changers & 2 tire carriers, 1 pair for the front & 1 pair for the rear (so left & right side can not be changed at the same time). This will eliminate atleast 4 people as well as slow down the pitstops a bit.

    — Only 3 people allowed to change the nose & they are only to be in the box if the nose is being changed.

    — Only 1 person allowed to change the angle of the wings & only allowed in the box if those changes are being made.

  20. Ye gods — everyone seems to be suggesting “regulate, regulate, regulate…” Accidents happen. RBR didn’t intend to send the car out on three wheels. The cameraman didn’t start his day planning to end up in hospital.
    First and foremost, I wish him a speedy recovery. After that, (and despite his being an experienced guy), it’s up to FOM to make sure that their employees are properly trained to keep an eye open for accidents about to happen. How do you teach your kids to cross the road? If there’s no pedestrian/zebra crossing, “look left, look right, then look left again” (invert left/right as required.)
    But we don’t need more regulations — drivers are not lawyers, and team managers are not barristers.
    Again, speedy recovery to the injured chap.

  21. Wishing a Speedy recovery to paul….

    I am not sure if the Incident should induce knee jerk reactions. If anything the whole thing should be thought through. Maybe it needs some suttle changes , Maybe there is no change needed, maybe there needs an overhaul or Maybe Camera men should not be allowed in that areas as they are not well protected, agile and trained like the put crew. I say we should not jump into conclusions here within half hour.

  22. That was really an awful incident. Looking forward to hearing that he’s going to be okay. A miracle, really, considering the size of that wheel and the force with which it hit him. It could have been much worse. :(

  23. Back when they were still refueling the cars (which had its own inherent set of dangers), the wheel and jack guys had just a bit more time to be deliberate and careful about their work. These current, sub 3 second pit stops are so crazy fast, pushing human limits, and are putting an enormous amount of strain and pressure on the crews. It’s good fun to watch, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the FIA wound up mandating some sort of spec wheel nuts and guns to slow the procedure down, and make it a little bit more reliable and safer. It’s always distasteful for a true F1 fan to see innovation regulated out of the sport, but in this case, it might be the right thing to do.

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