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.
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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