The number of wheel tethers on F1 cars will be doubled next year in a bid to improve safety.
McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe, who is a member of the Technical Working Group, explained why the steps had been taken in response to recent accidents:
Tethers are a great concern to us. We had the tragic incident last year with Henry Surtees [in Formula Two]. And we also see wheels coming off Formula 1 cars rather more often than we’d like. The tethers are working, but they’re not reliable enough.
We maybe see one, two or three wheels detaching within a season. This year a wheel came off Alonso’s car in Monaco and there was one this weekend gone when Liuzzi crashed.
We discussed that at the Technical Working Group. One of our tasks in the TWG is to constantly improve safety. It’s through rules introduced by the TWG over 20 to 30 years that Formula 1 has become safer.
What we have agreed to do for next year and is now in the published rules is to introduce a second tether on every corner. Rather than each tether being 100% reliable what we’ve found is that when they don’t work it’s because they’ve been cut for some reason due to the particular nature of the accident.
Our thinking is that if you put two tethers on each corner that are run independently, so fully redundant – one in, say, the top wishbone and one in the bottom wishbone – then we’re going to drastically improve the probability that one or both tethers survive in an accident.
Speaking in the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in, he added that the tethers were not being added this year because it was necessary to add extra connection points on the chassis for them.
Read more: F1 2011 Season