Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren, Shanghai International Circuit, 2018

McLaren fined in F1’s fifth unsafe release incident of 2018

2018 Chinese Grand Prix

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McLaren has become the third team to be fined for releasing a car in an unsafe condition for its pit stop during today’s second practice session.

The team allowed Stoffel Vandoorne’s car onto the track with one of its wheels insufficiently tightened. Vandoorne noticed the problem on-track and stopped his car.

The stewards fined McLaren €5,000 for the error.

“The stewards reviewed the video and audio of the pit stop of car two at 15:14 and heard from the team representative,” they noted in a statement. “The stewards determined that the car was released in an unsafe condition in breach of Art. 28.13(b) as the wheel was not properly attached to the car when released.

“The driver stopped the car in a safe manner as soon as the above became apparent to him.

“Consistent with previous decisions of a similar nature, the stewards decided that the grid place penalty mentioned in the above article would not be applied as the driver took all appropriate actions at the first available opportunity. Accordingly, the stewards fined the team €5,000.”

Haas and Ferrari have each been fined on two occasions already this year for unsafe releases. Ferrari was fined €50,000 for one incident in a race which left a mechanic with a broken leg. The other three resulted in €5,000 fines. McLaren also lost a wheel from one of its cars during pre-season testing.

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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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Posted on Categories 2018 Chinese Grand Prix, 2018 F1 season, F1 news

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  • 19 comments on “McLaren fined in F1’s fifth unsafe release incident of 2018”

    1. Maybe one of the cost-saving measures for 2021 could be 3-wheeled cars. 25% faster pitstops with a 25% reduction in wheel-change mishaps right there.


      1. Made me laugh a lot harder than I thought.. COTD material

      2. High downforce Reliant Robins!

      3. 2 new constructors confirmed!

        In light of issues with 4 wheel pit stops the FIA has decided on a 3 wheel format for next year.

        Reliant and Morgan have expressed an interest due to their 3 wheeler expertise.

    2. No more pneumatic guns. Give them old-fashioned tyre wrenches and use elbow grease.

      1. Joking aside, slowing down the stops in some way might be just what’s needed to prevent these escalating pit lane disasters.

        Or maybe the man at each corner hits a button on his helmet only after the wheel is on properly. 4 button presses = green.

    3. I still don’t really understand why Ferrari was fined €50,000, there seems to be some level of inconsistency here, especially as the car wasn’t actually released onto the track. Whether a mechanic was injured or not should surely be irrelevant.

      As far as I am aware, the team could have pushed the car back into the box and changed the wheel and let Kimi carry on or he could have rejoined the track and come in within 3 laps to have the erroneous wheel changed (not sure what the penalty would be in this situation).

      1. SparkyAMG (@)
        13th April 2018, 11:24


        I suppose the Ferrari incident went beyond a wheel not being fitted properly; the left rear was never removed but Kimi was still released despite still having an old tyre on and a mechanic standing right in harm’s way.

        Whether that’s worth €45,000 more of a fine than a loose tyre is subjective, but I can see why it was treated differently.

        1. But that’s my point, It was less than a wheel not being fitted properly, the wheel was fitted properly as it was never removed, the car wasn’t released in an unsafe condition, the only real problem was the mechanics leg being in front of the rear wheel (which I don’t think is common practice anyway for precisely this reason).

          Ahhh and perhaps that is the difference here, although they do not seem to be being reported as different things. Even in Keith’s article above. Kimi’s was an ‘unsafe release’ (28.13 a) and I think all of the others were Cars being ‘released in an unsafe condition’ and retiring so 28.13 d applies.

          F1’s unsafe release rules are as follows:
          28.13 a) Cars must not be released from a garage or pit stop position in way that could endanger
          pit lane personnel or another driver.
          Competitors must provide a means of clearly establishing, when being viewed from
          both above and in the front of the car, when a car was released.
          b) If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during any practice
          session, the stewards may drop the driver such number of grid positions as they
          consider appropriate.
          c) If a car is deemed to have been released in an unsafe condition during a race a penalty
          under Article 38.3(d) will be imposed on the driver concerned. However, if the driver
          retires from the race as a result of the car being released in an unsafe condition a fine
          may be imposed upon the team.
          d) An additional penalty will be imposed on any driver who, in the opinion of the stewards,
          continues to drive a car knowing it to have been released in an unsafe condition.

          In all of the above cases, a car will be deemed to have been released either when it has been
          driven out of its designated garage area (when leaving from the garage) or after it has
          completely cleared its pit stop position following a pit stop.

          1. ‘released in an unsafe condition’ and retiring so 28.13 d applies.

            Sorry that should be 28.13 c

    4. Honestly, when will they learn? This is just getting ridiculous now as there have now been five instances of this type of error within just three race weekends, which usually has only occurred once or twice in a season.

    5. Actually it is the sixth if we count Alonso’s in testing

    6. Didn’t Alonso just come out saying Maclaren were in a good place having had none of these incidents?

      Friday 13th strikes again!

    7. MB (@muralibhats)
      13th April 2018, 13:33

      Jinxed by Alonso!

    8. Kind of OT, but I really like McLaren’s colour scheme, particularly the blue used for highlighting/offsetting the orange.

      A massive improvement (in my eyes) over their earlier orange+black scheme which was bad to look at, and just ugly in comparison to this.

    9. I understand they have to fine teams for unsafe release…but this was practice not the race and the wheel never came off….so 5000…a little steep

      1. If it is unsafe it is unsafe, it doesnt matter when or where it is.

    10. It seems this is happening much more frequently this year. Has anything changed?
      if it continues, perhaps the 2021 rules could include standard wheel hub and attachment technology (er, wheel nut) to make this sort of thing less likely.
      I do like the idea of each wheel man hitting the driver’s helmet when complete though. I am reminded of the nun in Airplane…

    Comments are closed.