Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Ferrari explains why Raikkonen’s pit stop went wrong

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene explained how a problem with an electronic sensor led to the pit stop error which injured one of the team’s mechanics in Bahrain.

Francesco Cigarini suffered a broken leg when he was knocked down by Kimi Raikkonen’s car which was sent from its pit box before the left-rear wheel had been replaced.

Arrivabene explained why the car had been released too soon during today’s FIA press conference.

“Just to make it clear once, forever, we have first of all we the team was hurt that a person was injured,” he said. “So it was in our interest to review the overall procedure.”

“We’ve done it together with the FIA, I have to say, because they care about safety as we care about safety. We went through the procedure.

“We have a procedure to ensure the pit stop during the race they are done in the most safe mode. In this case we have three factors. One involves human control, the other involves mechanical, the other involves electronic device.

“What’s happened there we had a mis-handling of the rear-left, [it] was not perfectly read by the electronic device, which gave the green light. Again we want through the procedure together with FIA, making sure this thing doesn’t happen again. And it’s in our interest because we care about our people before anything else.”

Arrivabene also expressed his gratitude to the medical staff involved in Cigarini’s care.

“I would like to thank our doctor, the medical staff of FIA and also the authorities of Bahrain, they granted to us immediately the best doctor in Bahrain to do the surgery and they were assisting us 24 hours a day, so thanks to them.”

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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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46 comments on “Ferrari explains why Raikkonen’s pit stop went wrong”

  1. Is the FIA going to (or have they already) released a statement about this?

    1. Also, I don’t see much of an explanation here, tbh. Just a bit of waffling around 3 factors (human/mechanical/sensor) and a misread on the sensor. No explanation why the car was dropped off the rear jack, etc.

      1. That last comment was meant about Ferrari’s comments, not the article itself. Can we please have an edit button, pretty please?

      2. Yep, well said @phylyp, “was not perfectly read by the electronic device,” seems a very abbreviated statement about what happened, and it doesn’t really explained how it failed or why they can be now certain it can’t happen again. More like designed to say as little as possible about what the actual issue was from Ferrari.

        1. An electronic sensor worked incorrectly and caused a premature green light. To go into more detail than that, I assume they’d have to talk about circuit schematics, programming code and whatnot. Not really necessary or interesting.

          1. I’m interested.

          2. I think the point is that they have not explained the two of the three factors… Why did the wheel not come off and more importantly why did the human elements not prevent the car from being released when it was very clear that the crew dealing with the rear left wheel had not finished?

          3. It is necessary though @ironcito. To make sure this doesn’t happen, they could, for example, introduce a redundant system with either 2 sensors and independant connections, or have both the sensor and a button pressed by the operator etc. Or maybe they recalibrated the sensor to be less sensible?

            Now there really is no good reason to expect this not to happen again, because they don’t tell us the core issue, nor to they even adress the solution for the issue.

          4. It is important to the engineers and inspectors, of course. Maybe they’ll publish the details in some specialized publication. But you can’t expect him to go into such details at a press conference where there are other teams as well. He probably doesn’t know the specifics, since I don’t think he’s an electronic engineer or anything, he has people for that. He provided an overview of the problem, enough for most people.

      3. @phylyp
        The wheel gun operator on the rear left couldn’t remove the wheel in time–maybe due to misalignment of the gun.
        I read somewhere that the rear jack was lowered so that it would be easy for the mechanic to remove it (don’t think its easy to remove a wheel with the jack lowered). I guess it is at that moment, that the sensor failed.

        I must watched the replay of the stop only a couple of times so take this with some salt

        1. I watched*

        2. I read somewhere that the rear jack was lowered so that it would be easy for the mechanic to remove it (don’t think its easy to remove a wheel with the jack lowered)

          @webtel – if the wheel nut was not coming off easily, then having that wheel on the ground will preventing it rotating, making all of the torque of the wheel gun go onto the nut. So it is possible they dropped it for this reason, but either a human triggered the sensor or the sensor failed, and the car went on its merry way. Well, not so merry after 3 seconds.

          1. @phylyp this is certainly true when you change a tyre on a road car, but equally the driver would have a foot on the brake pedal to achieve the same thing. so I don’t think they dropped the car to do that – i think the stops are so fast that they reflexively go through these motions and rely heavily on the lighting rig.

          2. @frood19 – that makes sense, yes. Now I wonder what is the signal to the jackmen to drop the car? It obviously can’t be the signalling light above the car’s nose, since that is for the driver to take off.

          3. @frood19. You undo the nuts on a road car while it is lowered because the nuts are not central and so the wheel spins when you put pressure on them. This is not the case on an F1 car as the nut is in the centre and so will make no difference if it is lowered or on the jack.

          4. I think it’s the opposite, lee1. If the nut is in the center of the wheel, you’re rotating it right around the center of the wheel’s rotation, applying as much torque to the axle as to the nut. If the nut is off-center, then only a portion of the torque goes to the wheel. Imagine the extreme: a big wheel with a nut right at its edge. Rotating that nut would hardly pass any torque to the wheel.

  2. In other words no explanation at all just a pr statement to reassure everyone they and fia think safety first, just incase someone didnt get that before…….. this shouldnt pe publicised.

    1. @rethla +1. This is a non-story as Ferrari & FIA assure us.

  3. this “explanation” doesn’t make sense, if you have 3 safety factors and one of those fails the other 2 should still work and not enable the car to start.
    obviously there’s something wrong

    1. @allyita – Exactly. PR-speek and the case is closed. Uh-huh.

      1. Don’t want to sound mean, but it’s looking more and more like it was planned all along in case Kimi was way ahead of Sebby. Even though he wasn’t they couldn’t undo all that meticulous preparation.

  4. Fredrik von Werder
    13th April 2018, 9:08

    But the guy screwing the nut, isn’t he pushing a button on his screwdriver, when he thinks the wheel is ready? SO it is a human error basically, not electronic?

  5. FiA need to step in and get legs out the way of tyres, and go back to the wheel gunner having to manually push a button to say they are done. Why is this automated? Teams just need to show that humans are in control when it comes to pitstops, using electronics, lights, whatever it doesn’t matter.

    1. and go back to the wheel gunner having to manually push a button to say they are done. Why is this automated?

      Because the system you are advocating is not error free, see today’s FP2 session and McLaren.

      Teams just need to show that humans are in control when it comes to pitstops

      Yes because humans are notoriously infallible.

      I have no idea why so many people on here are crying out for more human involvement. When it comes to safety and not making mistakes humans suck. Yes computer and automated systems can have problems and get it wrong but the beauty of them is you can find and fix the problem and then it never happens again. This is literally impossible to achieve with humans as they can and will make the same mistakes over and over again, especially in high stress situations like …. oh I don’t know … an F1 pitstop

    2. Or raise their gun when they’re done. 4 green lights, 4 guns in the air, release the car.

  6. This is an absolute non-statement.
    Besides, as some people have already pointed out, he talks about 3-factor system, and yet it all failed just because 1 of those 3 failed? How is it 3-factor system then, if it’s enough that just 1 fails, for it all to fail?

    1. It’s a 3 weak link system. Any one of the 3 fails and the system fails. 3 points of failure is better than 1. Or at least much more expensive, which in F1 terms = better.

  7. The wheel gunners could have a remote engine stop rather than hopelessly wave their arms about when they know something the sensors dont. That’s 3 driver’s races ruined in 2 events trying to gain a couple of tenths with electronics.
    Or bring back the lolly pop men.
    Better still ban pit to driver comms on the track then have minimum of 6 second pit stops that allow driver coaching, so all the errors and overtaking happen on the track.

    1. @bigjoe – the rules allow telemetry from the car to the garage, and doesn’t allow the garage/pitwall to be able to control the car; it needs to be solely the driver. A remote kill switch – while an interesting idea – would be prevented by such a rule.

  8. ban the red/green lights and let them use lollipops again. if a technology doesnt work, let humans do the job. maybe the haas issues could’ve been avoided aswell.

    1. @davisp Most teams (Including Ferrari) still have a chief mechanic with a override button acting in the same role they did with the lollipop. In this instance that person didn’t have a good view of the left/rear so didn’t see that there was a problem & didn’t override the system.

      As such it’s possible that it still would have happened even with a lollipop.

      1. ah ok. thanks for the clarification. didn’t know that

      2. the lolly pop man would only release the cars when the wheel men held their hands up to show they were done, they didn’t need a good view of the wheels

    2. It seems to me the logic (as in computer logic) was incorrect. It seemed to me the logic was something like “Is the Front right wheel on AND is the Ft LH Wheel on AND is the Rear LH Wheel on AND is the Rear RH Wheel on? TRUE = Green light. As you can see, the problem with this logic is if one wheel hasn’t been removed then when the other three are replaced you can get a green light. The logic should have been something like “Has the FT RH Wheel been changed AND has the FT LH Wheel been changed … etc? TRUE = green light. So instead of testing whether there’s a wheel on the hub the computer should be testing to make sure a wheel was removed from the hub and then replaced. While this would take a bit more programming, it won’t add to the weight of the car. I don’t know if it’s possible for the car to sense whether a gun is in contact with the car, but if it can then again that should also be part of the logic sequence, so If All wheels changed = TRUE AND No guns in contact with the car = TRUE = Green light.

  9. I don’t think banning lights is the way forward. Strict enforcing of rule 12.8.4 (wheel assembly and in this instance fasteners) of the technical regulations is the way forward – “Any sensors may only act passively”

  10. I was wondering why Kimi retired. Why didn’t they push him back, put the tyre on and let him go? I believe he would have scored points with that. Was it that they considered the race result secondary with a mechanic being run over, or some other reason?

    1. It is quite difficult to push the car back when there is someone lying on the floor with a broken leg and most of the pit crew are busy looking after that person… The fact that Kimi didn’t care about that person was pretty terrible but the rest of the Ferrari team thankfully cared more about the injured crew member than the race.

      1. I must admit I was a bit surprised to see him walk away, but I am sure Kimi did care, after all his race was over. I excused it in my mind because he could easily have been very angry and thought it was better to get himself out of that environment than to stay and say or do the wrong thing. We don’t know the pit stop rules are, but one has to suspect there are health and safety procedures for the handling of tyres. For example, there’s probably a rule that you’re not allowed to stand in front of a wheel, if so then Kimi would believe his race was over because someone (not necessarily the injured person) broke the pit stop rules. I am quite sure Kimi would have believed people would blame him regardless of whether he’d made a mistake or not.
        I don’t know if walking away was right, but it is important to understand that whatever decision he made in that moment of anger and frustration someone could argue it was the wrong decision. Say he sat in the car for 10 minutes, some people would say that was wrong and he should have got out of the car. If Kimi went over to ask if a guy that’s just been run over by a 1000 hp car was alright then some would say that was also a wrong decision. Kimi knows the health and safety drill, so he’ knew an ambulance was already on its way. At the end of the day he had to make a decision, even doing nothing is a decision, and his decision was to walk away. No one was hurt by his walking away (other than some peoples feelings).

    2. @enigma – I don’t think their procedures/training accounted for a situation where the car/it’s race was salvageable after a pit incident. So, default human nature kicked in, which meant attention focused on the mechanic, and just getting Kimi stopped.

      I’d wager all the teams up and down the pitlane will now have in place a procedure for what to do in such an instance in future.

      1. Yeah. Ferrari could easily have had half the pit crew help the mechanic and half the pit crew run for Kimi’s car to get it back and put the tyre on. But of course that’s not that easy with your mechanic ran over.

  11. He’ll definitely make a good politician one day. What we got from those quotes is that Ferrari are really into safety. Blah blah. We got very little detail in his quotes. Like for example when the electronic element of their stop didn’t work, why the other 2 elements (mechanical and human that he refers to) did not prevent the release. Having a lollipop man would have significantly increased the chance of spotting that issue. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating. Let’s see if Ferrari have changed anything at all in their procedures for China.

  12. So why didn’t the wheel come of in the first place.
    Was it just another of the “we put Kimi a bit behind Vettel” strategies from Ferrari that backfired, or why didn’t the wheel come of?

  13. And another wheel not properly attached this morning, not even 3 races completed and already 4 failures, is Charlie waiting for a death to penalise heavily teams? Wouldn’t be the first time someone has to die before he does something.

    1. I agree, there has been a spate of incidents this season. 2 in Australia, 2 in Bahrain, and 1 today in China. And that does not convey a good impression, irrespective of whether it is caused by hubris, hurry, or just happenstance.

      It makes me wonder if they need to exceptionally ramp up penalties for a short period (e.g. next 3 races) for teams to be more serious – something like an unsafe release means both cars get instantly black flagged for that session/race. The rationale could be: something went wrong in the pit stop, the pit machinery is common to both cars, the pit machinery can no longer be trusted until it is checked for issues, halt both the cars irrespective of their strategy (since a car can theoretically pit on even the final lap) and investigate after the session concludes.

  14. Let’s add tyre halos! These sort of ugly cages around the wheels that will make sure no more legs get caught by the rubber. Maybe even halo halos to make sure that the Halo does not hurt anybody.

    Glad to hear the guy is will be ok. Automatic car release – didnt even know they have that and it instantly sounds like a very bad idea.

  15. Ted Kravitz said on Sky during practice earlier that the belief in the paddock is that the Left/Rear didn’t come off because the mechanic had the wheel gun set to tighten rather than loosen the wheel-nut.

    Because of this the sensor on the system detected that the wheel had been tightened & sent the signal that it was OK for the car to be released.

    He also said that Ferrari have there chief mechanic with a override button watching the stop at the front of the car acting in the role he would have with a lollipop but that he didn’t have a good view of the left/rear of the car so didn’t spot that the mechanic on that corner of the car was having difficulties & therefore didn’t override it.

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