FIA to bring forward 2014 pit lane safety rules

2013 German Grand Prix

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The FIA plans to bring forward the implementation of new rules designed to improve safety in the pit lane following the incident in the German Grand Prix.

The rules, which were scheduled to be introduced in 2014, will come into force in time for the next race once approval has been gained from the World Motor Sport Council.

The changes will require all team personnel to wear head protection and reduce the maximum speed limit in the pits to 80kph (49.7mph) except at Melbourne, Monaco and Singapore where a lower limit is already enforced.

The FIA will also only allow approved media to work on the pit wall.

The sport’s governing body added it is “expecting a written report from Red Bull Racing tomorrow”. The team have already been fined ??30,000 (25,830) for Sunday’s incident which saw Mark Webber’s right-rear wheel detach following his pit stop and strike a cameraman, who was hospitalised.

Red Bull were previously fined ??5,000 after a wheel came off Webber’s car during a pit stop at the Chinese Grand Prix.

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    Keith Collantine
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    39 comments on “FIA to bring forward 2014 pit lane safety rules”

    1. Reducing speed limit is a good idea, but Gary Anderson idea of reducing the amount of people on pit stops, thus making them slower is a better idea.

      1. @crookeymonster I suggested the same after a similar incident in 2010:

        How F1 can make pit stops safer

      2. Whether you have twelve people trying to put on four wheels or six people to do it, the net effect is the same. Sure the pit stops will be slower, but they’ll still rush the tyres. It’ll just take more time to do it, and doesn’t fix the actual problem.

        1. It depends on the system used. In WEC for example you can only change one wheel at a time.

          1. So? They’ll still try to get the wheel on as fast as possible, and it can still go wrong. As I understand it, the mechanics (at Red Bull) have to press a button when the wheel is on properly. That button was accidentally pressed and Webber got the green light as a result of it. So putting four tyres on at the same time, or just one, accidents still can happen. Reducing the number of people who can work on a car exposes less people to danger, but it doesn’t fix the problem.

            1. I think the point he makes is that with fewer people on each wheel it both increases the amount of time taken, which lets the lollipop/traffic light person actually take in what is happening, and also reduces the crowd of people.

              If three people are around a dodgy wheel only the one with the gun will be moving, the others stay still so at a brief glance it looks like everything is OK. With just one person on the wheel it would be much more obvious that the job isn’t done.

              Although given how hi-tech F1 is I can’t believe they haven’t invented a sensor system that lights up in the cockpit when all four wheels are secured. This could then be used instead of a human-operated signal and further reduce the chance of an error occurring.

            2. MG421982 (@)
              9th July 2013, 21:32


        2. One of the problems at present is that the lollipop man (or whoever is running the traffic lights) isn’t noticing when a wheel hasn’t been attached properly. If we assume a six-man pit stop takes six seconds (estimate based on IndyCar) compared to a twenty-man pit stop taking two seconds, that would triple the length of time the lollipop man has to keep an eye on things.

          And the other advantage (as outlined in the article above) is it drastically reduces the number of people who are put at risk.

          1. How about an FIA inspector checking the wheels after they have been replaced and HE allows the release of the car. Perhaps also instituting a minimum pit-stop time of say 20 seconds. If the teams aren’t racing each other at pit stops then fewer mistakes will be made.

            1. @ceevee I don’t think the FIA suddenly finding room in its budget for 11 (or more) independent wheel fitment adjudicators is realistic. Nor that the teams would allow their pit stops to be potentially compromised by the reaction times of someone not in their employ.

      3. I don’t see how having less people work on the car is going to help. The wheel nut didn’t secure. Surly that has nothing to do with how many people worked on the car..

        It’s bad that the camera man got hit yes but his mind was elsewhere he was focused on doing his job where as all the other mechanics where holding a huge camera and could be more aware of the people shouting around them, if you get me!?

        Again. F1 is supposed to be the ‘pinnacle’ yet to me slowing the pit stops is yet another step in the wrong direction. Yes I agree we should make them safer but me to me this isn’t the best way, as someone else mentioned putting less crew on to change a wheel won’t make a difference, if anything it’ll make it worse because that one/person(s) is going to rush to put the tyre on to make up lost time from losing a body.. :/

        1. @nemo87

          I don’t see how having less people work on the car is going to help. The wheel nut didn’t secure. Surly that has nothing to do with how many people worked on the car.

          The mechanic failing to attached the wheel nut properly wasn’t the only thing that went wrong. It was the first thing that went wrong.

          The last thing that went wrong was that the lollipop man/traffic light operator failed to notice the wheel hadn’t gone on properly and sent the car when it wasn’t ready to leave.

          This brings us to where I began my previous comment.

          1. Well then he needs sacking :)

        2. Reducing the number of mechanics won’t help? It will indisputably help by dramatically reducing the number of people who can be hit by cars and errant wheels when something goes wrong.

          1. Did you read the next sentence?

    2. The team have already been fined €30,000 (£25,830) for Sunday’s incident [German GP]

      Red Bull were previously fined €5,000 after a wheel came off Webber’s car during a pit stop at the Chinese Grand Prix.

      ^ I really hate this.

      But nonetheless: the FIA has been doing a lot over the last few months. They have assigned some new committees and they are being very quickly to respond to things like the Pirelli blow-outs and the pit lane incidents – which is a good thing. The only real question is: why now? The Pirelli and pit lane safety issues have existed for months and forever respectively. Re-elections coming up… I’m not suggesting anything, but it’s a bit of a coincidence, isn’t it?

      What we need is an FIA that is exactly like this, but then throughout the entire year. The only improvement we need is taking evasive action instead of dealing with problems when they come up, which should be fine if the FIA continues like this (read: that’s not going to happen).

    3. Missing the point – body armour in addition to helmets is necessary – the problem can be alleviated by putting a minimum duration on pit stops – the problems come from too much haste

      1. I agree, a minimum stop time of around 4 to 5 seconds mean that teams wouldn’t gain any further from increasing speed of stop which means technological advances would move on to making stops more reliable within the target time. Most teams seem to use pit lights now so having a built in timer over-ride to hold the light on red would be an easy mechanism to achieve this.

        Could also save on costs as the jump in pit stop technology since refuelling was banned has been significant. This could also go hand-in-hand with a reduction in stop personel as suggested by others (though the minimum time would need to be adjusted to reflect the number of crew allowed otherwise marginal time gains might still be available).

        What this doesn’t solve is the rush which would happen when something goes wrong and time does become critical, but hopefully the reduction in the need for speed in the first place should reduce the frequency of such problems anyway.

    4. MG421982 (@)
      9th July 2013, 21:27

      The ideea of having less people for the pit stop doesn’t reduce the percentage of making mistakes, but the percentage of having people injured. Less people = less chances to have someone hit.

      If G.Anderson meant to have only 2 mechanics changing all 4 wheels I thnink is a bad ideea. Might sound innapropiate, but working at that speed means a higher rate of fatigue increase, so how will I know the mechanics won’t make a poor job with the 4th wheel change ?!

      1. Depending on how the rules are written, but they can still have four different gunmen, they will just have to run out at different times, similar to how the WEC teams do it.

        1. I’m in favor of reducing the number of people doing pitstops too. I agree WEC teams manage it well. Sure it takes many seconds longer.. But it will be the same for every team and I don’t see fatigue as being an issue. In WEC from what I recall they have 2 guys doing 1 side of a car at a time and another 2 doing the other side once they’ve finished their side. The only other guy is usually somebody cleaning the window and the go sign. They could easily 1/2 the number of people doing pit stops at the very least.

      2. If F1 tire changers can’t handle changing 6 tires over a 1.5hr race then they need to be fired and replaced by somebody whose changed tires in NASCAR where often times it’s 8-10 tires per 1.5hrs and they are skilled enough to hit 5 tiny lugnuts instead of 1 giant one.

        1. People make mistakes, calm down.

          NASCAR pit stops (for the sake of comparison, I’ll use the two-tire pit stop, in which the team only changes the right-side tires, because the best four-tire pit stop takes 13-14 seconds because there are only two wheel guns, one for the front two and one for the rear two) are no less immune to wheel mishaps than in F1. And for the reasons you just highlighted, with the multiple lugnuts, are far more prone to wheel and tire failure – though usually much later on, in the middle of racing with the driver (and other bystander drivers) taking the consequences against a concrete wall or another car.

          There’s no reason to get so hasty about F1’s pitting culture over an errant pit stop, especially when your suggestion is merely to fire people who likely aren’t even solely at fault for the pit stop – someone, after all, does have to release the car instead of pausing to correct the tire change.

          1. And NASCAR races are never finished in just 90 minutes. Maybe a rain-shortened support race on Saturday.

            More like six or seven pit stops over three to four hours.

    5. Slower pit-lane speed limits and sturdier tyres should mean fewer stops – which, by the law of averages, is safer.

      Bad news for the “fans” with shorter attention spans though (the ones who’ll be writing “boring” comments after 15 laps at the Hungaroring) but if we get more cat-and-mouse races like the Austin one, it’s great news for everyone.

    6. For what it’s worth, the photo for this article is quite the optical illusion.

    7. Indycar only allow 6 guys over the wall (1 man per-tyre, Refueler & air-jack man) & they feature slower stops (7-12 seconds depending on fuel been added) & even they we have seen tyres come lose.

      Some sort of sensors on the wheels would be possible, Indycar have a system on the fuel hose which prevents the car going into gear until the fuel hose is disengaged.

    8. The cameraman restrictions are ridiculous. This is a show. There’s inherent risk of injury covering any live event: how many photographers, steadicam operators, cameraman got hit by football players, by the Ball (in any sort of ball related sports) ? A cameraman got hit by a loose tyre. How often does this happen? This works well as PR, but it will undoubtedly hinder the coverage of the event. Those talking about “drones” and automatic cameras have no idea about video coverage at all, I’m sorry to say. When you are a professional cameraman, as a human, you are a “super computer” yourself, with the added capability of “improvisation”, of adding context as well as adding your artistic eye. There’s obviously a broadcast director in these situations, but he is not “there” on the track: he cannot see what is behind the scenes, the anxiety of the team, the signs something is going on, the various “stories” that are unfolding during the event. A good professional cameraman “anticipates” and helps create the storytelling. A great Motorsport broadcast, with great cameraman, provides all this to the audience, but a regular audience doesn’t even notice this. All it knows if it was “boring”, or ” exciting”. Remember when Vettel had his car stop at Silverstone near the pit lane, the camera following him untill the garage? That’s storytelling. You feel his drama, disappointment but at the same time putting up a brave attitude and moving forward. Remember Ron Dennis going angry on the pit wall to the pits on the Alonso VS Hamilton qualyfying drama? Exactly. You take this out and you are doing the whole motorsport show a disservice. Safety? Give the cameraman Protective gear, but let them do their job the way they can. I’m sure no cameraman is happy for this excluding those only looking for their weekend pay checks. It means less work for them.

      1. I agree. One of the main reasons people love F1 is the excellent tv coverage.

      2. +1
        Can someone put some of this common sense into FIA please?
        It’s a show, it has risks as everything in life, professionals are paid to perform in it, they understand the risks more than anyone.
        This freak accident was blown into proportions no one imagined.

        What’s next? Let’s cancel the tyre changes altogether because they’re a safety risk??

        1. I think you may have misinterpreted the change; nobody said they were cancelling all TV coverage so I think the only one blowing things out of proportions is yourself.

          Why not wait and see what difference it makes to the coverage we get before commenting? In all likelihood the coverage will be no worse than before (any loss of coverage being made up with alternative camera positions/angles), and several men and women will be removed from danger so it’s an obvious decision.

        2. thatscienceguy
          10th July 2013, 12:27

          For goodness sake, I thought we got past the “they’re professionals, they’re paid and they know the risks” argument when we went through improvements in driver safety.

          1. +1 @thatscienceguy. Everyone likes a circus, but go down that road far enough and FOM would be paying homeless people to stand at the chicanes for greater entertainment value. F1 is great because it is exciting, high-tech, and Civilized.

      3. +100 Journalists wont be happy with that decission if it finally happens and we’ll miss part of the show. If safety gear is good enough for mechanics to do their jobs why not for journalist? We’ll end up watching robots changing tires thru automated camaras

      4. Personally I will be very happy if we get fewer shots from the pit lane during a GP, watching the pit stops is something I like but I have been getting increasingly bored by all of the other pictures we get from the pit lane. I wouldn’t mind if they showed something of substance such as the reaction of the Ferrari garage at Brasil 2008 but we very rarely get anything like that, mostly it’s bland shots of the pit crew sitting in the garage, driver’s girlfriends, weather radar screens and Christian Horner’s feet – which I can happily live without – especially when the directors cut away from the on-track action to show us something we’ve all seen countless times before.

    9. Minimum pit stop time, that’s all you need. Get the wheels changed and still have time to fully ensure that they’re all secured properly. Plus if everyone has a long pitstop of the same enforced duration, there will be no rushing about and all the racing will have to be done on the track, not in the pits.

    10. Here’s my idea. It will need some technology to make it work, but F1 is good at that sort of thing.

      1. Have a standardised wheel nut and wheel gun with some kind of electronic checking device on it. All teams must use these devices.
      2. If the check has not been satisfactorily completed, the traffic light should remain red.
      3. The traffic light should only turn to green IF the team are satisfied that all jobs are completed and the car is ready to go. In other words, it is manually changed as currently, but the automatic system can overrule this and remain red.

      1. +100 Top technology sport F1 should be able to do this

    11. Might as well make the driver get out and push his car down the pitlane. Racing is dangerous, no one wants to see people hurt but i’m tired of my sport being sanitised to the point of utter boredom.

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