Bus crash wrecks start lights at Hockenheim

2019 German Grand Prix

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An accident involving a bus has forced the Hockenheimring to make repairs to its starting light gantry ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix.

The row of lights above the start/finish line was heavily damaged when a single-decker bus collided with them during pre-race activities at the track on Thursday. The crash caused heavy damaged to much of the structure.

As there are no Formula 2 or Formula 3 support races at this weekend’s grand prix, the time pressure on the organisers to fix the lights is not as great as it might have been. RaceFans understands the repair work to the lights is expected to be completed in time for the first race of the weekend.

The first race does not take place until 5pm on Saturday afternoon, when Germany’s ADAC Formula Four championship will hold the seventh round of its season.

A similar incident occured earlier this year during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix weekend. A recovery vehicle carrying George Russell’a Williams struck a bridge on its way into the pits during first practice at the Baku City Circuit, spraying the car with hydraulic fluid.

Pictures: Damaged starting lights at the Hockenheimring

Bus hits starting lights, Hockenheimring, 2019
Bus hits starting lights, Hockenheimring, 2019

Bus hits starting lights, Hockenheimring, 2019
Bus hits starting lights, Hockenheimring, 2019

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Author information

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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29 comments on “Bus crash wrecks start lights at Hockenheim”

  1. Oh well, just wave the German flag then. Works fine for me.

  2. Is this a good time for “How many stewards does it take to change a light bulb” jokes?

    1. LOL, that’s a perfect caption for the second picture!

      All the guys in that picture are on their phones to their wives: “Honey, can you see how many spare bulbs I’ve got beneath the kitchen sink?”

      1. 5 second penalty

  3. Does anyone else appreciate the irony of this occurring at a start line of the World Driving Championship?

  4. I hear Maldonado was driving the bus

    1. Pretty sure it was Vettel

  5. “and nobody suspected Vettel of his cunning plan as he chuckled to himself in secret!”

    1. It wasn’t Vettel. He got down from the passenger side ;)

      1. I heard LeClerc pushed him. :)

  6. Gantry lights: “I think Ericsson hit me”

  7. The shot of the bus with “Hoffmann Reisen” also grabbed my attention.
    I take part in some photoshop contests and I instantly wanted to put a grinning Hasselhoff in the drivers seat with some (probably rude) reference to “Rising”

    I better go sober up before the race this Sunday – I know – I know….

  8. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    25th July 2019, 21:10

    Don’t know if it is just me, but I always see buses and coaches as different things. This is clearly a coach, not a bus. Yes they both carry many passengers, but there is quite some difference between them. A normal single decker bus would not have been tall enough to cause this damage. As they have the seats pretty much at flaw level. Coaches have several steps you climb up and all the seats are usually level and above where you can store your luggage. Sorry for being so fussy but these this is a coach isn’t it?! :D

    1. @thegianthogweed Coaches have horses, sports teams, locomotives, first class (or business class) in front of them. But never F1 gantry lights. So this is clearly a bus.

      1. I’m obviously just joshing, I would have called it a ‘coach’ also, but I’m assuming that as this is an international site the term ‘coach’ is quite broad in it’s application, whereas a ‘bus’ might be a little more specific in this case (though I think we could play the ‘bus’ also).

        I don’t think anyone would think José Mourinho had ran head on into it if the headline had said ‘coach’, but, regardless, if you did, the image should clarify things.

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          25th July 2019, 22:19

          Haha, yea i guess this is a point. I’m just fussy with the definition of some words.

          1. But thanks for mentioning the difference between the terms. I learnt something new today.

          2. As @pt says, I did know of the word ‘coach’ as applied to this kind of transport, but never really knew the distinction of when it was a ‘bus’ and when that; so, interesting discussion @thegianthogweed and @bernasaurus, thanks for a laugh, especially with the image of sports teams pulling a coach forward (was that an intentional bit of putting sports team in the middle of horses, locomotives? well done!), and mourinho running into the start lights head on.

      2. @bernasauru

        Or a man?

        Guy pulling bus

        1. No, coach!

  9. lol similar to baku. f1 in disarray.

  10. So here’s a question – What are the small ‘trumpet’ looking things left and right of the actual lights in the top main picture ?
    I’m guessing some sort of sensors or similar given the angle they point at maybe ?

    1. Microphones so we can hear the cars as they start the race or pass the Start – Finish line?

  11. The coach must have had a bit of speed to knock the light consoles that far off their normal position. I’m surprised the windscreen wasn’t damaged (or maybe it was). If it wasn’t then it must have been the airconditioning unit on top that hit the light consoles. I guess the track officials will be wanting to look at the Telematics or whatever brand of speed – acceleration – braking – engine idling – etc black box technology is used.
    Now the owners will now have to impose both height restrictions and speed limits when driving on the track. As I think about it, I did comment on whether the damage to the Silverstone track was because it was being used by heavy transport vehicles (besides the racing tractor units) during non-race times, and now we find a bus / coach being driven on the track. Hopefully this hasn’t damaged the track surface as well.

    1. My guess (and I could easily be wildly wrong) is the coach was travelling in the region of 50 – 60 km/h.

  12. That Gantry seems dangerously low for a flying car like Mark Webber-Valencia 2010 or Patrese in Portugal 91 or 92. A modern Formula 1 car is quite a bit longer than that coach / bus is tall so it could smack the Gantry like that crash at Fuji in the mid-90s.

  13. Why are these buses allowed on the track anyway, if the gantry lights are so low? Surely organizers could have thought of that before?

    1. @pt

      I think there must have been an error somewhere – the bus is short enough to clear the gantry, but the lights are lower. Presumably someone checked the gantry height and didn’t realise the lights were lower.

      1. @Dave

        Good explanation! As you said, it probably was an oversight.

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