Felipe Massa’s accident in the pits at Singapore was dramatic and disastrous. But it wasn’t the first time a drivers’ race was ruined when he reached his pit box.
We’ve seen plenty of drivers suffer refuelling fires or knock team members over – but there are other ways to get your pit stop wrong: here’s five examples:
1989: Nigel Mansell, Portuguese Grand Prix
Mansell made a critical error by coming in far to fast to stop on his mark. He at least avoided mowing his pit crew down, but what he did next made things even worse: he reversed back into his pit box – which is forbidden by the rules – instead of waiting for his team to drag him back.
He was disqualified but failed to see the black flag during the race, and later collided with McLaren’s Ayrton Senna. He was suspended from the next race as punishment.
1990: Theirry Boutsen, Brazilian Grand Prix
Boutsen made much the same mistake but came even closer to scattering his pit crew like bowling pins, punting one of his waiting tyres down the pit lane.
1991: Nigel Mansell, Portuguese Grand Prix
Mansell again, Estoril again. This time he was in contention for the championship and leading the race comfortably, when his right-rear wheel man failed to get the wheel nut done up properly. Wheel and car parted company.
Although Mansell’s FW14 was reunited with its errant wheel the work done on the car in the fast lane of the pits earned him another disqualification.
1995: Johnny Herbert, Spanish Grand Prix
Full marks to Johnny Herbert for a speedy getaway in his Benetton. Unfortunately the rear jack was left under the car and he dragged it the length of the pit lane. Fortunately the mechanic had the sense to let go of it, and the jack didn’t hit anybody when it flew off the back of the car.
The man on the jack was Steve Matchett and he recounted the experience in his book, “The Mechanic’s Tale”:
I didn’t see Mike [Cowlishaw, lollipop operator] lifting the board as I was concentrating on unhooking the jack, and despite wearing safety glasses my vision was quickly blurring from the blast of the exhaust gases. The next thing I remember was a terrifically violent lunge from the jack handles as Herbert released the full might of the eight hundred horse power engine.
1999: Eddie Irvine, European Grand Prix
A driver arriving in the pits to find his team a wheel short is a rare thing: for it to happen to the usually well-drilled Ferrari crew is almost unheard of. But as mixed weather at the Nurburgring led to a flurry of pit stops the Italian team were caught out.
Spotted any other unusual pit box blunders like these? Post links below…