Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Ferrari mechanic hospitalised after pit error

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Ferrari mechanic Francesco Cigarini has been taken to hospital in Bahrain with a suspected broken leg after being hit by Kimi Raikkonen’s car during a pit stop in today’s race. The team confirmed he suffered breakages of the shinbone and fibula in the incident.

The mechanic was knocked to the ground when Raikkonen’s car was released from its pit box as he made his second pit stop of the race. He was in the process of removing Raikkonen’s left-rear wheel when the car was released.

Raikkonen stopped in the pits and was unable to continue. Afterwards he confirmed he saw the green signal to leave before setting off.

“I go when the light is green, I don’t see what happens behind, and unfortunately he was hurt,” Raikkonen told Sky. “My job is to go when the light changes, more than that I don’t know.”

“I don’t know what shape he’s in, for sure it’s not great for him,” he added.

Ferrari is under investigation for releasing Raikkonen’s car from the pits in an unsafe condition.

Update: Cigarini posted a picture of himself on social media recovering after surgery in Bahrain. “Surgery OK,” he wrote. “I have to thank all the people worried for me. Nothing else, just a big thanks. Hugs!”

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

Browse all 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

Posted on Categories 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix, 2018 F1 seasonTags

Promoted content from around the web | Become a RaceFans Supporter to hide this ad and others

  • 57 comments on “Ferrari mechanic hospitalised after pit error”

    1. Best wishes to the mechanic, and I hope for a speedy recovery with no lasting injury/ill-effects.

      Are the FIA initiating an investigation, or will it be left to Ferrari to uncover what went wrong?

    2. Best wishes to the mechanic.

    3. Hopefully he makes a quick recovery, a stupid error by ferrari considering that the wheel wasn’t even off but it goes to show how important the entire team is in F1.

    4. Forza, fallen hero!

    5. Would it have been possible to push the car back and change the tire to salvage some important WCC points?

      1. Probably not, he was too far ahead, and the stricken mechanic was still there, needing attention. Right call to retire, IMO.

        1. I agree with you but the pit-lane should have been closed while there is a man down (person down) , yet a Force India car was already past the pit entrance.

      2. I think it’s illegal to reverse in the pits (even if you’re not actually driving but being pushed).

        1. @kaiie
          Turn the car around then ;)

      3. If he exit the pitstop and enter again after 2-3 laps it’s fine, there’s no rule against running with 1 different tire. He would have to pit again but he would finish 4th anyway since Gasly was so far behind.

        1. Not true … all 4 are matched to a set, and a complete set must accompany the car at pit-box exit.

          1. It was Bottas that made this error before right? Seemed to work out for him but he also didnt drove over his pit crew.

            1. Bottas was given a drive-through, if I recall.

            2. was that when the team stole a left-rear from Massa’s “warmed tire rack ?

        2. @miani @paulheppler @rethla
          I’ve got a feeling they changed this rule after the Bottas incident, here’s the current rule:

          Any driver who uses a set of tyres of differing specifications during the race may not complete more than three laps on this set before changing them for a set of tyres of the same specification. A penalty will be imposed on any driver who does not change tyres within three laps.

    6. Kimi is quick, Kimi is on the front row.

      “Break a leg Kimi”

      Ironically, Kimi broke an actual leg. The pit lane should’ve been closed, also it’s wrong to have someone the mechanics incur these risks.

    7. Does anyone know if the number of our stops issues this year is more than usual? Maybe they should come up with a minimum put stop time of 5 seconds.

      1. If there’s anything F1 definitely doesn’t need, it’s more calls for knee-jerk rule changes.

    8. Omar R (@omarr-pepper)
      8th April 2018, 18:31

      Maybe it’s time we return to having a lollipop man. A real thumbs up from every working corner and that guy gave the driver a go. Now all those sensors and automatic green lights are given a real problem, and this time, and injured mechanic as a consequence.

      1. @omarr-pepper

        Maybe it’s time we return to having a lollipop man.

        Doesn’t make sense, imo. That’s just technophobia speaking. A lollipop man would basically do exactly the same job as the guy who pushes a button that makes the light go green, while seeing less. There’s nothing he could really do differently, and if you go back a few years, lollipop men were making mistakes all the time, too.

        1. Green lights aren’t as good as lollipop men because once the button is pressed, that’s it. With a man holding a sign, even if he goes to lift it, he can quickly stop. He can lift the sign 5% but stop…. Once a button is pressed, it’s 100% done, the light goes green and the car is released.

          If they want to keep lights, could they not have it so that the guys with the wheel guns have a button to say their team of 3 are clear and only then can the lights go green?

          1. @petebaldwin
            I disagree. Yes, a lollipop man can lower the sign again, but the same goes for a button pressing man, who can activate the red light again.

            If they want to keep lights, could they not have it so that the guys with the wheel guns have a button to say their team of 3 are clear and only then can the lights go green?

            That’s exactly how it works, but it’s an unreliable system, so that a fifth button presser is needed to release the car when he thinks the crew has done its job, because the car would be stuck in the pits and losing seconds otherwise.

            So, again: The button man does exactly the same job as a lollipop man, but from a perspective where he sees more. Both systems are equally susceptible to human error.

      2. A person is operating the lights as far as I understand it, so really it’s not much different to a lollipop man, perhaps better in some ways. Humans make errors, but as I mention below perhaps not placing limbs in front of tyres might be a good response and not knee jerk.

        1. True, only when all the mechanics working the wheel gun give all clear the signal change to green. Adding more personale at pit stop is adding more to chaos.

          1. How difficult is submit the green light to 4 “ok” signals from each gun? Those guys are the ultimate people knowing if everything is ready.

            1. @m-bagattini
              Not difficult, but simply not desirable, either. They need a fifth crew member who can force the green light, because there’s always a chance of a failure in the system. Especially with 4 different units that need to be activated. There is a significant chance that the light ‘refuses’ to go green even though all 4 crews ‘know’ they’re done. They can’t afford to have that risk, because such a failure results in the loss of seconds, but they’re chasing after tenths of seconds.

        2. @john-h, exactly – as I understand it, the lights systems for most teams will default to the red light being on if there is a suspected fault, and in the case of Ferrari I understand that their system is normally manually operated by the lead mechanic.

          Going back to the case of the 2008 Singapore GP, where Massa pulled away with the fuel hose still attached, that mistake occurred because the lead mechanic overrode the automatic system and manually switched the lights from red to green. That was why, when Ferrari re-evaluated that system, the main change they made was to make it impossible for somebody to manually override the system if the fuel hose was still attached (i.e. if the fuel hose was still attached, then the lights would stay red even if you tried to manually override the system).

          @omarr-pepper, whilst this is an very unfortunately incident and one where you hope the mechanic involved will make a quick recovery, others have rightly noted that we have also seen mechanics being seriously injured when there was a mechanic with the “lollipop” board.

          For example, back in 2010 HRT still had a mechanic with the lollipop board as their man way of controlling pit stops, but there was a similar accident in the 2010 Italian GP where a mechanic, who was trying to sort out a loose cable in the cockpit, was knocked to the ground when the lollipop man gave Yamamoto the signal to go.

          Now, in that situation the mechanic, fortunately, only suffered minor injuries and was able to make a full recovery – however, it demonstrates that having a person with a lollipop board isn’t necessarily any safer, because they were still prone to occasionally making the same mistake: all you’ve done is replace the stop board with a light switch.

          If anything, in some ways the change that Ferrari made after the 2008 Singapore GP made their lights system safer than having a conventional lollipop man, since it meant that the car couldn’t get the order to go unless the refuelling rig was definitely disconnected from the car.

          Other teams, which kept the lollipop board for longer, did have accidents during that period – remember, for example, the pit fire during the 2009 Brazilian GP when the lead mechanic at McLaren, who was still using a lollipop board, let the car go before the mechanics had removed the refuelling hose, resulting in fuel being sprayed along the pit lane and catching fire when it hit the hot exhaust of Kimi’s car?

          We will wait and see what the result of the investigation is, but I suspect that the cause here was more probably human error in a stressful situation than a failure of the lights system and Ferrari will probably focus more on trying to take pressure off the mechanics instead. That is exactly what Haas did today – they told the mechanics that they were prepared to sacrifice a bit of time in the pits to make sure the wheels went on properly, and even though they did have a slight issue at one stop when a wheel nut was a little slow to come off, their stops went fairly smoothly.

          1. I do like your measured, reasoned response, Sir or Madame. It is a pity, however, that you posted anonymously. I, for one, would enjoy reading your comments on a regular basis.

      3. Third time in 2 races (not counting practice issues) that unsafe releases have occurred due to light failure, not technophobic, but, there is obviously a fault somewhere in the system…

        1. The teams need to sort this out or fia has to step in. This is starting to get too common. The teams are designing the wheel nuts to shave hundreths of a second. And there is not much room for error in a 2 second stop.

          1. @socksolid

            I dont think the wheelnuts are any safetyproblem. They can always fail but the way the cars are released when not ready(safe) is the problem here.

            Yesterday everybody celibrated that they didnt get any gridpenalty for unsafe release during practice and now this happens everyone turn face and gets so safetyminded again. The irony.

            1. What I meant is that the teams are so focused on shaving hundredths of tenths of a second off their pitstops that they may be creating an unsafe situation by making every part and procedure more risky for really small gain.

              The counter measures fia has taken against loose wheelnuts has worked very well as we rarely see loose wheels because the wheelnut was not properly tightened. Now there is going to be an investigation about the car release systems. Because the system failed a guy is now in hospital with his leg broken. The way the cars are released is going be investigated and new rules will follow I’m sure.

              Your irony makes no sense though. If one person says something you disagree on one day and then another person says something the next day you also disagree with – it doesn’t mean they are the same person just because you disagree with both. Calling out a group of people based on separate individual comments is total nonsense.

            2. @socksolid Naming induviduals would be nonsense.

              I dont think anything has to be done from Fia, they are quite regularly penalising stuff like this. Maybe they can go a bit tougher to completly eliminate the risk/reward from gambling with safety but i think its pretty finetuned as it is.

      4. @omarr-pepper Not as if we didn’t see unsafe releases with mechanics been knocked down or run over (And injured in some cases) when we did have someone holding a lollipop.

        Also not sure there’s been any more unsafe releases since the light systems were introduced than there was before them.

      5. @omarr-pepper It’s easy to forget how many human errors were made with lollipops. I don’t have statistics, but from memory it was a lot, I doubt any less than in recent seasons.

        @john-h I might be wrong but I recall hearing some of the teams use systems where the mechanics press a button on the wheel gun once they are done, and when all four are pressed it automatically goes green. I’m not sure if it requires somebody else to confirm it before it goes green, and I don’t know what system Ferrari are using

        1. I think that was Williams with the release buttons on the guns (2 yrs ago ?) but proved unreliable due to the abuse the guns indure.

        2. @strontium

          some of the teams use systems where the mechanics press a button on the wheel gun once they are done, and when all four are pressed it automatically goes green. I’m not sure if it requires somebody else to confirm it before it goes green, and I don’t know what system Ferrari are using

          Ferrari uses that system as well. Each wheel gun has such a button, and the light automatically turns green as soon as all four buttons have been pressed. There is no need for confirmation by the fifth crew member, but that crew member can override the system and activate the green light when he thinks the pit stop is finished, but not all four buttons have been pressed correctly for whatever reason. And he can override the green light if he notices something going wrong even though the tyre crews have pressed the button.

    9. Sad to watch. Interestingly Marc Priestley was talking about the chance of Ferrari pit issues since Haas use exactly the same system of course. So it came to light. My only guess is that the person operating the lights saw 4 wheels on and pressed the button, without realising one of those wheels was still the original.

      Funny in an era of maximum safety for the drivers a mechanic can still place his leg in front of a rear tyre like that. Hope its just a broken leg.

      1. I believe the system is automated but can be manually overruled. As in, something made the system believe a tyre had been removed and reattached.

    10. They should increase the safety of mechanics. They can wear leg and elbow pads similar to ones worn by batsmen, wicket keepers and close-in fielders in cricket.

      FIA can make this compulsory from the next race itself.

      1. There’s no way on earth that would’ve prevented the injuries the mechanic suffered today.

      2. Your heart is in the right place mate, but there’s no way padding would have prevented injury from a collision like that.

    11. This is now the third race in a row (the Abu Dhabi GP of last season included) in which an unsafe release from a pit stop has occurred.

    12. Weird thought maybe, but fueling during a pitstop might have reduced the amount of unsafe releases in the last couple of years due to the extra time needed to complete a pitstop. Hope the mechanic will recover…

    13. Reports have that the guy suffered a fractured tibia and fibula (the two long bones between the knee and ankle) in his left leg. No reports on the severity or other subsequent injuries.

      1. I hope it’s a clean break in the middle, and not a compound one near the ankle.

        1. They said “a fracture of each bone” so I am assuming there will be added ligament and muscle damage. On the good side, if there is one, He is a well trained athlete, as they all are, and should heal up a lot quicker than I would (at 56 yrs old)

    14. It would have lessened it to some extent for sure. Probably not cricket pads but something more sturdier than that.

      It’s a start at least. And better solution than others suggesting return of the lollipop man.

      1. He didnt took a blow to the leg but got properly ripped apart, no amount of padding would save you.

    15. the car shouldnt have been lowered from the jacks in the first place if the wheels wasnt changed yet even before the go green lights

    16. My suggestion to help remedy this would slow the stop by maybe 1 to 2 seconds and it would be universal, so no one team would gain an advantage from the change.
      It is a two-fold approach.
      1) The front and rear car jacks may only operate when both front and rear handles are engaged. That leaves the duties to the jack-men to watch only two gun operators, then a glance to ensure all is safe.
      2) Sensors in the pit box automatically put the car in Neutral until all four wheels are on the ground. That might require a simple proxy sensor and a 0.5 sec delay.

    17. How hard is it to put a clear button on the wheel gun? If it is threaded then don’t press the button. If the tyre has not been changed at all then obviously the button does not get pressed. Geez! After unfortunately watching the incident in slow motion I would be surprised if the man does not need a knee reconstruction as well. Yes people get hurt but this is avoidable in my humble opinion and with all the tech’ involved in F1 it alludes me as to why this has not been dealt with already.

    18. Here’s wishing the mechanic a speedy recovery.

      On a slightly different note, Kimi’s reaction after he walked out of the car was slightly disturbing, he didn’t seem to care about the fallen man at all until the press conference.

      1. i was thinking the same thing but he prob didnt know what happened yet at the time. he was just told to stop and tyre/wheel problem

    19. There will always be unsafe releases, no matter the method of release.

      The simplest way to reduce the risk of people being run over is to reduce the number of people allowed to operate on the car—say, to one per wheel. There’s no need for a mechanic to be hovering over the tyre changer holding the next tyre, with their leg placed in danger immediately in front of the wheel.

      These sub-2 second stops are incredibly impressive, but if you reduce the crowd, you could reduce the risk.

    20. I think a proven solution is the lollipop man to release the cars. Easy and more less prone to that kind of mistakes to happen. Make this mandatory, for sure the total pitstop time will increase probably 0,5 to 1sec, but that will be safer for the crew without compromising the competition over pitstops.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    All comments are moderated. See the Comment Policy and FAQ for more.
    If the person you're replying to is a registered user you can notify them of your reply using '@username'.