Alexander Albon, Toro Rosso, Silverstone, 2019

High voltage safety warning meant Albon couldn’t pit

2019 British Grand Prix

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Toro Rosso did not tell Alexander Albon about a high voltage problem on his car which meant he couldn’t pit during the second half of the British Grand Prix.

Albon dropped out of the points places with two laps to go at his home race after running a 39-lap stint on his medium tyres. His team could not bring him in for a pit stop as they could not risk touching his car.

“Unfortunately, Alex dropped out of the points in the closing stages, as he was unable to make the second tyre stop that he needed,” explained Honda F1 technical director Toyoharu Tanabe.

“This was [power unit]-related, as the data showed a high voltage issue, so we told the team it was inadvisable to make a second stop on safety grounds. Of course, we will now analyse this issue very carefully.”

Albon was only told the reason for his unusual long stint when he finished the race.

“We have a situation with the car, I will explain later,” his race engineer advised him after taking the chequered flag. “We have a situation with the car which is why we couldn’t do anything. Car is unsafe, car is unsafe. It will be ‘safe jump’ out. Sorry for that.”

“You’ve done a very good race, Alex, we just had a problem with the car and we couldn’t do anything,” his engineer added.

Albon parked his car away from the others and jumped clear of the cockpit to avoid touching the STR14 and the ground at the same time. The car was then attended to by Toro Rosso mechanics wearing rubber gloves for protection.

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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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11 comments on “High voltage safety warning meant Albon couldn’t pit”

  1. I know this is serious stuff that could’ve caused serious injury, but I can’t help but hum Electric Six’ “Danger! High Voltage”, and I like to believe that this was the warning signal that Albon heard.

    1. I honestly can’t believe he was allowed to sit in the cockpit and continue driving after they found out about this. It’s a serious danger to the driver’s life.

      This story might get shrugged off or dusted under the carpet, but it’s a serious issue and it’s shocking that the FIA isn’t looking in to it.

      1. It’s a serious danger to the driver’s life.

        Not really, no. In fact, the unsafest moment of his day was when he had to leave the surrounding charged system resting on a thick layer of isolating rubber, briefly becoming a potential conductor between two bodies with a significant charge difference.

        1. I think it was dangerous.

          I don’t think that there was a real danger for Abon under normal conditions.

          But what if there was an accident, and the car is upside down?

          IMHO, if they know that car is unsafe car should be immediately parked in safe place

          1. This is interesting.

            I was inclined to think the same as nase, based on the physics of it all, that the driver is fine as long as he doesn’t become a conductor.

            But then again, we have the black & orange flag to warn about mechanical issues, especially when it poses a threat to the drivers or marshals. So that got me thinking how is this any different from damaged bodywork, a fuel leak/fire, or similarly dangerous conditions.

            It probably is something for the FIA to consider adding to their repertoire of monitored events and serve a caution to the car. That will also force teams to be more proactive around safety instead of waiting for the FIA to wave flags.

            I am one who feels that some aspects of F1 have become “very safe” (didn’t want to say too safe, as that is likely poor phrasing), runoff areas being one. At the same time I’m cognizant of the fact that F1 teams continue to push the limits in other areas, and that needs to be checked quickly and stringently by the FIA in a proactive manner. Max’s pit exit at Monaco is one (I personally feel that above and beyond the in-race penalty the team should have been hit with a punitive measure for being risk-mongering clowns), this sort of decision making is another.

          2. @mhrzica

            But what if there was an accident, and the car is upside down?

            Máš pravdu, good point.
            I strongly suspect the tracks have to be equipped with special tools that allow the emergency personnel to deal with unsafe cars after accidents. At the same time I don’t know for sure what the requirements are and what the procedure would be in case an electrically charged car crashes. Can this sort of wreck be dealt with quickly? Or would they have to leave the driver in his car for several minutes before being able to neutralise the threat?
            No idea, to be honest.

            Also, what @phylyp says.

          3. I think that marshals are equped for safe evacuation of drivers from car.

            But what are chances that Albon would not touch the ground if car was upside down?

            On the other hand if car is upside down driver sould assume that car is not safe.

            After consideration :) I think that FIA sould estimate risk and make rule :)

  2. Very unlucky for him.

  3. What if he had been involved in a roll over? Are their race suits and helmets as isolating as the tires?

  4. And they are worried about refueling as being dangerous.

    If Albon was in a minor wreck it could have been deadly

  5. If the car rolls over and the bodywork is touching the ground the car would be earthed. Normally the car sits on rubber tyres, it’s the action of earthing through the drivers or mechanics body that is the potential problem.

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