Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari, Bahrain International Circuit, 2018

Three errors caused Ferrari’s botched Bahrain pit stop which injured a mechanic

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix

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Three errors led to a Ferrari mechanic being injured in a botched pit stop for Kimi Raikkonen in the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Francesco Cigarini suffered a broken left leg when he was hit by Raikkonen’s car when it was released from the pit box before a tyre change had been completed. Ferrari team principal Maurizio Arrivabene blamed a combination of human, mechanical and electronic errors for the car being released too soon.

RaceFans has learned Ferrari’s investigation identified three principal causes for the pit error.

The team’s pit stop procedure as used in Bahrain is broadly the same as it was last year. Raikkonen was not at fault as he was given the green signal telling him to leave.

The green light is shown once eight signals have been received: one from each of the wheel guns confirming the wheel nuts have been fitted, one each from the front and rear jacks confirming the car may leave, and further signals from the pit stop controller and pit stop traffic manager clearing the car to rejoin the pit lane.

Raikkonen’s pit stop began to go wrong when a wheel gun operator experienced difficulty removing his left-rear wheel. In the confusion the wheel gun’s setting was reversed and the original wheel was secured back onto the car. This gave one of the signals confirming the car was ready to leave, despite the fact the left-rear crew was still trying to change the old tyre.

Two further opportunities to prevent the car being released too soon were missed as neither the rear jack operator nor the pit stop controller noticed the problem at the left-rear because their vision was obscured. Either of these could have issued an instruction not to let the car leave the pits.

In response to the incident, Ferrari added another pit stop controller for the previous race in China to monitor the changes at the rear of the car and prevent it leaving the pits if necessary. The team’s mechanics were also reminded to stand clear of the path of the car’s wheels.

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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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16 comments on “Three errors caused Ferrari’s botched Bahrain pit stop which injured a mechanic”

  1. Ah, good to see this final report coming out. I recall being a bit harsh about Arrivabene apparently vacillating without sharing information earlier, so it’s good to know that was only because the investigation was in progress.

    Has the FIA provided any further commentary on top of Ferrari’s investigation?

    1. I saw a piece on … I guess it must have been the Sky F1 broadcast. It identified 5 specific errors.

      1. @drycrust The 5 things Sky flagged up were.

        1. Wheel gun was set to tighten rather loosen.
        2. Mechanic didn’t spot the mistake.
        3. Rear jack man didn’t spot the mistake.
        4. Chief Mechanic didn’t spot the mistake.
        5. Francesco Cigarini was standing in a vulnerable position (In-front of the rear wheel).

        1. 1 and 2 are basically the same problem.

        2. Nr. 5 is the biggest mistake. Don’t place legs in front of any wheel. If something goes wrong, none will be hurt.

    2. No report was officially released – a report was circulated to the teams for info / preventative purposes, and RaceFans was shown a copy

      1. Thank you, Dieter.

  2. Yet the car was released in safe condition, as the last wheel was never undone. They could have pushed him back into the box or possibly do one lap with mismatched tyres, replace the remaining wheel, and Kimi would still likely be good for 12 points. Of course, there were other priorities at the moment…would it be too heartless if they spared three guys to do this alongside the care for the injured team member?

    1. Yes, good point. There should be specific medical and first aid personnel in every garage to deal with these sort of contingencies. There is no help for the unfortunate mechanic in having every crew member drop everything and crown around him. Some folks were even calling for Kimi to go to him. What possible use is that to anyone.
      There should have been enough mechanics awake and able to change the tyre and send him out to reap those 12 points. Bizarre.

      1. It is only normal and sane that seeing their mate in great pain the race was not important any more. They are human beings, not robots, fortunately.

        1. Andrea, I appreciate that remark was thinking the same thing.
          Also if Kimi would have done 1 lap with the wrong tire would he be disqualified…?

          1. @dutchtreat I believe they have to come back in the following lap to change it

          2. @dutchtreat – I think they’re given 3 laps to return and fix it.

            That said, at that moment it all happened, all they knew was something went wrong, and they wouldn’t have been certain if the tyre was improperly fitted or partially unscrewed, hence the call to stop the car and not exit the pitlane.

    2. Yes, I agree they should’ve either dragged the car back or let him do a lap on wrong tyre and then pit again, the margin on the then 5th placed gasly was huge, 4th place was more or less guaranteed.

    3. The rule does not specify that the car must merely be in a safe condition. It specifies that the release must be safe. While the car obviously must be in a safe condition for this to be possible, a release that leads to injuries – by whatever mechanism – is by definition not safe.

  3. Top marks to the racefan who correctly surmised after the race that the wheelgun was wrongly set. Take a bow. Sorry I can’t recall your name.

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