How F1 can make pit stops safer

CommentPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Hockenheimring, 2010

Formula 1 got a wake-up call at the Hungaroring when two potentially dangerous accidents happened within seconds of each other in the pit lane.

Fortunately the only lasting damage to come from the incidents was financial – Renault and Mercedes were each handed $50,000 fines.

But the accidents serve as a reminder that safety can never be taken for granted in Formula 1. What can be done to improve safety in the pit lane?

The two incidents were very different but they shared a common cause. Robert Kubica was released from his pit box too soon – causing a collision with Adrian Sutil – and Nico Rosberg was allowed to depart without all four wheels properly attached.

These mistakes happened because their teams were striving to waste as little time as possible in the pits. Although the fines will have concentrated the teams’ minds on not cutting corners when it comes to safety, it’s impossible to completely eliminate such mistakes from pit stops.

Instead, F1 should ask how to better protect the mechanics who are most at risk. The logical thing to do would be to reduce the number of them that are in the firing line.

Limiting the number of mechanics

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Hungaroring, 2010
Lewis Hamilton's car serviced by 19 McLaren mechanics at the Hungaroring

At present there is no upper limit on the number of people who may work on a car in the pits. The only restriction prevents mechanics from standing in the pit lane when their car is not coming in for a pit stop:

Team personnel are only allowed in the pit lane immediately before they are required to work on a car and must withdraw as soon as the work is complete.
Sporting Regulations article 23.1 (b)

Teams use as many mechanics as they can lay their hands on to get the car turned around as quickly as possible: as the picture above shows, McLaren had 19 men on hand for their pit stops in Hungary.

In other series the number of mechanics allowed to work on a car are limited to minimise their exposure to danger. In IndyCar a maximum of six are allowed, and that includes two to refuel the car, which are not needed in Formula 1 at present.

Built-in jacks remove the need for mechanics to raise and lower the car. Have a look at IndyCar pit crews in action in this pit stop race from this year’s Indy 500:

F1 could easily impose a limit of six mechanics per pit stop, which would allow two for front wing changes in addition to the four changing tyres.

It wouldn’t negatively affect the racing. Yes, it would slightly slow down the speed of pit stops for all teams but that could increase the potential for variety which is surely no bad thing.

During the safety car period in Hungary all 12 teams pitted their cars at once. Assuming all were using 19 (different teams may have been using more or fewer mechanics) there were potentially as many as 228 mechanics in the pits at once. Cutting the number working on each car to six would mean 156 fewer bodies in the pit lane for something to hit.

Closing the pit lane

Another solution could be to bring back the rule preventing drivers from pitting while the safety car is out. This would make it far less likely that we would see 16 cars (or more) pitting at once as happened at the Hungaroring, with obvious implications for safety.

It would have the added benefit of allowing the sport to do away with the complicated rules which restrict how quickly a car can go after the safety car has been deployed, which nine drivers received penalties for after the European Grand Prix.

This solution is slightly more controversial than the former, as it could disadvantage drivers who need to make a pit stop for tyres at the time the safety car is deployed.

But despite that, I would consider either of these changes an improvement. They would reduce the chance of a mechanic getting hit by a wheel or a car, something we never want to see in F1.


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167 comments on “How F1 can make pit stops safer”

  1. hear hear Keith.

    I find it fasciinating watching the World GT1 races where just two mechanics frantically run around the car to change all four wheels individually whilst the drivers help each other to swap places, it really adds something to the spectacle, as well as being far far lower in cost.. compare 2 reasonably paid Matech Ford GT1 race mechanics with 19 McLaren employees, and you can instantly see how much money could be saved (although clearly this argument has nothing to do with cost per se).

    The in-built jacks that are on the IndyCars, touring cars and most GT cars make the pit stop a lot more straight forward as well, and another standardisation that can reduce costs on a team by team basis – whilst also improving safety by requiring less people there to perform the work.

    1. Reducing the number of pit lane mechanics won’t reduce costs – the mechanics all have other jobs at the track and would be there anyway.

      1. Charles Carroll
        3rd August 2010, 18:07

        I doubt that all 19 McLaren mechanics all have other jobs to do besides pitting. Whenever we see them not in pit lane, they are sleeping in chairs and looking extremely bored.

        Cut the mechanics down to 6, have built-in jacks, and save lives and lots of money in the process.

        This is an area where Indy Car is better than F1.

        1. “Whenever we see them not in pit lane, they are sleeping in chairs and looking extremely bored.”

          The guys who program the pit lane computers and display systems probably aren’t doing much during the races either, but that doesn’t mean they’re not needed.

          1. Charles Carroll
            3rd August 2010, 20:05

            Yes, you’re right on this and upon further review (considering everything that goes on during the weekend) I was wrong to assume they don’t do anything else.

            However, I still stand by my preference for seeing less pit crew members. I, for one, am not a “pit guy”. I enjoy the racing and can’t really get into the whole pit thing. I suppose part of that is because they are so short and usually only occur once during a race. I guess for me it is just a forgettable part of the action.

            Perhaps with less crew members there would be more margin for error and longer stops, which would make it more interesting for me and more safe for the guys.

            At the end of the day, having not done it, I cannot say for sure.

        2. I’d be willing to bet you everything you had that most, if not all, of those guys are working on that car or parts of it when it is in the garage. I have NEVER seen a professional race team completely waste resources by only having people work 2-3 hours a day. Most of them are stingy as hell and work every last person on the team 10-12 hours a day if they can get away with it. If you every watch qualy or practice, you will see that very few people are just “sitting around” or “sleeping” during these times.

          1. Ill agree to it, Formula 1 is a really tough business and why would any team waste their money hiring a worker whose job is to sleep? thats stupid!

            All the teams are working on bringing in more money to get more development and u think they hire ppl to sleep in the pit garage!!

          2. They are truck drivers, pit garage contructors (the fake walls and all that) and other things: they just happen to be mechanics during the race…. or they are mechanics that happen to do something else beside the race…

        3. They work on getting the garage ready for the weekend, assembling the car, fixing any problems on the car during practice. After the race they will dismantle the car (after it has been weighed by the FIA of course).

          The period after the final pitstops is when they actually have no work to do. They can’t work on the car when it’s out on track.

          The reason you see them sleeping is because they have get very little sleep. Mechanics in F1 teams often won’t finish until very early morning, and won’t sleep at all if the car has an issue. The time after the final pitstop is probably their only break of the weekend, so it’s a complete insult to those guys to suggest that they could run with less people.

          Even if you reduce the number of people allowed to work on a car during pitstops, it won’t reduce team numbers at all…each of those guys is absolutely necessary. All that will happen is they will rotate specialist guys in when there’s an emergency (for example, the front wing replacement crew)

          1. I believe even after the final pit stop, the pit guys are still on standby, just in case they need to do an emergency tyre or wing change (tyre deflation, bald spot, stupid back-marker, etc). And I read somewhere that the FIA has actually limited how many people a team can bring to the race, so that the wheel-changers are actually the truckies outside of racing hours. Although watching the F1 forum in the McLaren motorhome makes me believe it’s not that bad when they still have a full catering staff with food-carriers.

        4. You were right the first time Charles all of these guys (is there any female pitcrew members?) have other jobs and would still be there.

          Why try and destroy the spectacle of F1 watching an Indycar pit certainly does not raise your heart rate the way F1 does. The sport is inherently unsafe and given all the stops that have occurred since a fatality when ever that was, indicates what a wonderful job the teams have been doing in terms of safety.

          BTW as you revamped your website EXACTLY as to how I suggested ages ago it would have been nice for you to acknowledge to me my input!!!

  2. New pit lanes should be built to look like paying stations at toll roads (parallel not series). That would be my suggestion… then the drivers can go side by side no problem (until they are away from the pit area) if the release is almost at the same time.

    This might be a problem to enforce at Monaco however!

    1. Come to think of it, this would also reduce the ‘length’ of the pit lane, and hence make impromptu stops for fresh tyres (and hence differing strategies) more appealing.

      1. With that layout, it would be quite an advantage having a middle pit, as you have a more straight line.

        1. Jonathan Proctor
          3rd August 2010, 16:10

          Winning constructor would get the middle maybe? Still it looks like it takes up too much space.

        2. Marc Connell
          3rd August 2010, 16:10

          but with a speed limit, they would all still get to the end at the same time.

          1. But in a rush the ones on the side are disadvantaged. Just like having a pit garage at the end of the pit lane than the start. In theory they are the same but nobody wants the last garage near the exit.

      2. I do see what you mean – one ‘entry’ lane and one ‘exit’, no crossing. But you need to stagger the pits much more:



        (hope “code” tags work!)

        1. They had that set-up at Anderstorp in Sweden when F1 raced there in the seventies.

      3. Looks like Toll booths on the Dartford Crossing.
        But as others have said it would take up a huge land area and unfortunately you seem to have lost the paddock.
        BTW from your logo, are you using a BBC on a 6502 processor?

        1. The cost of making that change would be huge.

          Also the spectical of people viewing would be very hard and it would be hard to cover on TV.

          On another point have people noticed how much the FIA seem to recieve in fines? Not that i count but it must be 50-100K a race must be rather handy? Anyway does anyone know how the FIA is funded?

          1. Until Bernie came along the FIA was funded mostly from licence fees and fines…. now of course they get most of their funding from a cut of F1’s revenue so they have a very vested interest in keeping F1 successful. Of course their costs are not as high as you might think because other than admin staff most jobs are voluntary and unpaid including that of Jean Todt (although his expenses are very generous).

        2. Ok guys, admittedly it all needs more work. $:)

          Obviously this could only be feasible if you were building a brand new venue and land area wasn’t really be an issue (I mean, they did it at Dartford!).

          But… it would be safer… perhaps.

          PS: How I wish I still had my beeb, 6502 or just

          1. I would love to see the drivers having to get out, replace all the wheels, front wings etc and then get back in and race.

    2. couple of questions. Car comes in to pits, and after some pit-lane deliberation they decide to retire it. How do they get the car from the pit box to the garage? Very dangerous to try to wheel a car and several guys across 10 lanes where cars could be coming down at 100kmh.

      Same concept, how do crew/equipment/tyres get safely and quickly from the garage to the pit?

  3. Indy pit stops are much better to watch cus there not so quick u blink n miss them!!!

    1. I can’t believe they don’t have overhead wheel guns — the guys on the front left have to throw their wheel gun and trailing cord back over the path of the car?!

      At any rate, Guido would smoke them all —

      1. Lol, yeah but, did you see him fling all the tyres into the air? Surely that’s a safety issue…

  4. I have to agree with Keith here. There are far, far too many people in pit lane just to service a single car. If something very bad were to happen DOZENS of mechanics could be hurt or injured. It’s time to reduce the number of people in the pit lane during stops. Do they really need three people per wheel? No, it’s pure overkill to save fractions of a second.

    1. And of course at many times there are walls of mechanics in the sight line of the lolipop man making it very difficult to see other cars. I a gree a very serious accident just waiting to happen

  5. Presumably part of the reason why the cars are allowed to pit during the safety car is because before this season some cars might be close to running out of fuel just as the safety car was deployed – now this is not the case there seems little reason not to change the rule.

  6. How about minimum time of pit stop, for example 5 seconds, so mechanics would do calmly their job and wold have second or smth to check everything.

    1. Out of Question really, Fast pit stop is part of “the show”

  7. we should make some sort of petition thing saying the rule should be 6 mechanics maximum!!!!! who’s with me?

  8. And send a copy to F.O.T.A see what they think?

  9. I think closing the pitlane during safety cars is a very good idea, and I’ve been championing the idea since Valencia.

    Not only is it potentially safer, it is fairer as well.

    1. Furthermore, it gives drivers less motivation to race back to the pitlane when a SC is called, which can be very dangerous if there are marshalls/cars/debris on track.

      It is also very hard to police, as we saw in Valencia, when Kubica and co. got the same penalty as Petrov and co. even though some had one corner, and others had a sector or more.

  10. Great topic and as always, timely and insightful.

    Limiting the numbers of guys in pit lane is essential. That is one good thing about IRL. The pitlane looks like the first 5 feet around the bar in a Cancun nightclub. You can’t even see what’s gonig on because you see nothing but bodies and cables for the airguns.

    It amazes me that it’s been years since we’ve seen a driver properly lose it in the pit lane and hit a lot of mechanics. Ferrari’s horrible and dangerous pit work in 2008 was as close as we got but we learned nothing from that. I’m not hating on Ferrari but it shows that the best teams are only split seconds from disaster in the pits.

    Also, I know a pit wall is logistically impossible in F1 but it amazes me that we have mechanics, dangerous equipment, volatile chemicals, supermodels, and other valualbe items unshielded from potential lethal mayhem in the pit lane. What if an engine let go when being redlined before the jacks dropped—do we want to see Nicole Scherzinger showered wtih molten exhaust valves? (Putting your music tastes to the side.) There should be some kind of moveable barrier.

    Another innovation we need is a sensor that detects improper wheel attachment. I don’t think this will be the Manhattan Project. They can come up with sensor that triggers lights on the steering wheel and in the garage showing whether the wheels are on properly.

    One good thing ALMS/LMS does is require the cars to be off during the stop, with no ignition until the mechanics hands are off or refueling is done. This would require starters on the cars, but that would be good anyway.

    1. There are people who would pay to see Scherzinger showered in molten exhaust valves. Ex-Pussycat Dolls, mostly ;)

    2. Besides being for safety reasons, I think the ignition rule in endurance racing is also down to those series’ roots as a test of a racing car’s reliability (from the days when racing cars were still vaguely related to road cars) as a part of the endurance test.

      Come to think of it, this could work in f1? How hard would it be to attach the starter motor stick thing to the rear jack?

    3. The temperatures on an F1 car during a pit are higher than the flash point of the fuel mix, so having the engine off wouldn’t make too much difference.

      1. Fuel has nothin to do with it anymore.
        Do try an keep up !!!

  11. Indycar style automatic lifting jacks are a good idea. Prevents this sort of thing:
    Also 6 mechanics max. gets my vote. Even if stops take longer, surely not longer than refuelling stops took? Could permit an additional pair of guys for front wing changes etc.

  12. Indy car does it with far fewer people and more cars pitting at the same time. NASCAR has 6 or 7 people over the pit wall at one time with 43 cars. I think F1 needs to limit the number of people working on the car at one time.

    I’ve always thought that F1 could have a pit lane that resembles a toll booth (yes we have them here in central Texas as well) but not so much as a parallel but more like driving into your pit at a 45° angle and then going forward to get out at the same 45° angle.

    1. I beleive the pits at Anderstorp used for the Swedish GP in the 70’s were exactly like this.

  13. Yet another silly discussion about improving safety. When was the last time someone got killed in the pitlane? Without refuelling, the pitlane is safer than it has ever been, especially at the modern tracks.

    Limiting the number of crew to make it resemble Indycar? What a joke. Is F1 not the pinnacle of motorsport with the most rescources and the fastest pitstops on the planet?

    And don’t get me started on the issue of cost. Fans and spectators are NOT interested in reducing cost in F1 to the point where we have a pathetic show of two lonely mechanics running desperately around the car like monkeys.

    1. Yes I agree – if you want Indycar type pit stops, watch Indycar. I love F1 pitstops, nothing needs to change. Stupid article. I’m off to JamesAllenonF1’s site – he has some great knowledgable insightful stuff on there.

      1. Good. You’re no loss to us.

      2. Charles Carroll
        3rd August 2010, 18:10

        Wow. Talk about your all-time “take my ball and go home” temper tantrums.

        Gotta love the internet.

    2. I don’t think I could have put it much better myself.

      Formula One is the pinnacle of motorsport, and fast pit stops are part of the genetics of the sport. It’s what attracts people to F1; it’s the fastest- the best.

      This is true of particularly true of pitstops. I no other motorsport do they happen faster.

      People should stop calling for endless rule changes to Formula One. Tinkering with the rules every race turns the sport into a bit of a joke.

      1. That’s weird, another Christian… :P

    3. Totally agree with CNSZU. The number of mechanics does indeed have to be limited, but not to 6 – it would be ridiculous. F1 is meant to be over the top -in a good sense- after all! And let’s not fool ourselves, the cost reduction such a measure would provide would be insignificant compaired to the teams’ annual budgets. These guys in the pits are not exactly millionaires, you know, and that is a good reason why they are so many: they don’t cost so much to hire, anyway…
      And I don’t know why do we always have to look to American series for solutions. If they had solved all their problems and they were actually better than what we have in Europe or in f1 and other world championships, then they would have a clearly superior status. But f1, and many other European-based series retain ther superior status, and that’s for a reason.

      1. I agree that it wouldn’t reduce much money so you make a good point there but just reading back I picked up on something…

        “If they had solved all their problems and they were actually better than what we have in Europe or in f1 and other world championships, then they would have a clearly superior status. But f1, and many other European-based series retain ther superior status, and that’s for a reason.”

        That would be arrogant for the F1 world to dismiss what everyone else has done. If F1 doesn’t look at different ways to evolve then it’ll quickly slip behind. Just because it’s F1 doesn’t mean other series don’t have good ideas.

      2. Didn’t the – universally praised – HANS device come from an American series???

    4. “When was the last time someone got killed in the pitlane?”

      So basically if Nico’s tyre had swerved slightly and killed Nigel or someone else then you think this article would be relevant? Clever. Why does it have to get to the point that someone is killed until action is taken?

      The pitlanes are a lot safer without refuelling but Keith makes good points. It could have turned out so differently on Sunday.

      I don’t watch F1 for the speed of the pitstops but for technology and quality of the racing. The stops will always be quick but it can be asked whether they need to be more safe.

      “And don’t get me started on the issue of cost. Fans and spectators are NOT interested in reducing cost in F1 ”

      Actually everyone is interested in cost. F1 survives as a business. If the numbers don’t add up or money is wasted then teams will leave and the sport will be worse off. It can be looked at if cost cutting is needed right now and how it can be done but money is fundamental to the sport or it collapses.

      1. I am not dismissing other series – even though I have to admit that the way I phrased my comment may make it seem like that I am. I do like some things in American racing series – I am a fan of oval racing and I would certainly like an oval track to enter the F1 calendar, although that seems unlikely. But, as a matter of fact, European series generally do have a higher status than the American ones – not nececerily justified, if you wish, but they do. And I do also believe that they are superior in terms of technology and, most important, driver talent – after all, Sebastien Bourdais used to be by far the best driver in the other side of Atlantic for quite a few years, and he was never able to show that talent in F1.
        Anyway, I still think that there is not really much in American series that could benefit F1 -but that is just my opinion, of course. I think that F1 has to find new ideas by itself, becose those that work for other series quite probably won’t work for F1.

      2. yeh, seriously, how can anyone say that fans don’t care about the costs of F1? Clearly you’d have to have no sense of economics. Fans are the ones who pay for tickets, merchandise, products from sponsorship, and so on. the cost of F1 directly affects fans and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. no fans = no f1.

        and exactly right steph, why the flip should we wait for another person to be killed in the pitlane before making modifications? top logic. it’s unbelievably lucky that someone or several people weren’t killed on sunday. something definately needs to be done, whether you agree with keith’s suggestions or not.

    5. Knee Jerk silly season is open, ’till the racing re-starts. Let’s all come up with non-sense to kill F1 once and for all.

      How about one Mechanic and no power tools. With one FIA approved supervisor with a clip board (iPad) to check the bolts on the wheels etc. He can then look up the pit lane to check for safe release. 10 mins work tops. 100% no risk 100% boredom guaranteed.

      1. I think they are well thought through and not knee jerk comments.

        As has been mentioned, should we wait until there’s a bit injury/fatality before suggesting changes? No.

        Limiting the number of people in pit stops (and hence increasing the pit stop time) will put the action where it belongs, on the track. The less time spent in the pits the better. While they’re at it, scrap the stupid tyre restrictions too!

        Closing the pits while the SAFETY car is out would be much better. Of course, closing the pitlane means less options for strategy and excitement, but it’s for SAFETY, right?

    6. So why can’t F1 teams use automatic jacks? Too much technology to go wrong? Hmmm. To avoid costs too much, get them (partly?) standardized.

      Taking away fuelling has definitely helped a lot.

      Still, if not 6, it couldn’t hurt to have maybe a maximum of two guys for each of the wheels, and then three extra: lollypop and two multi-purpose, 11 maximum.

      1. IF I remember correctly, there is a rule that outlaws mechanical moving parts to raise the car during a pitlane. I remember reading something about this so pit stop times remain reasonable. However, if they implement this system with safety in mind, such as not jacking the car down until everything is fixed well, it can only be beneficiary. Sensors can also be used to enforce safe pit stop releases.

        If F1 should copy something from the IRL, it must be the jacking system. Due to its nature, a standard FIA system for all cars would be the best.

    7. When was the last time someone got killed in the pitlane?

      So we should wait until someone does?

      Limiting the number of crew to make it resemble Indycar?

      No, limiting the number of crew to make it safer.

      And don’t get me started on the issue of cost.

      I didn’t say anything about cost.

      1. I like the 6 man crew idea. If you watch the IndyCar video the stops really aren’t much slower than F1 stops, and Formula 1 could learn something from IndyCar.

        Aside from the improved safety that Keith’s excellent article pointed out, I would say that with a 6 man crew there is less potential for screw ups, when compared to a 19 man crew. With the 19 man crew, three people are assigned to each wheel. If the three men assigned to each wheel aren’t perfectly in sync it could actually take longer than it would to have one very well trained and practised man take off the old tyre and put the new one on.

        Having said that, CNSZU and Pan151 are right in one sense. Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. Like any business or organisation that is at the pinnacle of their respective industry, Formula 1 should be demonstrating that they are at the pinnacle through their tireless dedication to improvement of all facets of their business, including the way pit stops are handled. The race in Hungary is the latest example that is there is room for improvement when it comes to pit stops. After all two cars crashed into each other, and one mechanic was knocked unconscious.

    8. @CNSZU,

      Yes because the duty of care should only ever be activated once someone is killed.

      If on the way to your work there was a giant hole in the road, should it only be filled in (or at least highlighted with markers) only once someone has been killed by driving into it? or perhaps should someone take a common sense approach and think “perhaps we should fix that hole before someone is seriously hurt”?

      I am not a big fan of our health and safety culture but some things are just disasters waiting to happen and we almost watched it happen in Hungary. One mechanic was missed by less than an inch as rosbergs tyre raced along and it would have only taken a few more meters for the Kubica/sutil incident to have possibly hurt someone. Less mechanics is a sensible approach without really having to make draconian rules. How many cars have almost hit each other coming out of their boxes this season because the lollipop controller can’t see the car behind through the wall of pit crew?

  14. stopping cars pitting under the safety car is fine but once you have caught up to one another and the pits are opened your in more trouble because now you have 2 cars per pit and only one can change tyres at a time.
    that is just asking for a bigger fiasco.

    i fully agree there are miles too may people in pit lane,
    20 people on one car is absolutely ridiculous.
    look how many are when you look up the pits. racing/?action=view&current=Pitstop2.jpg
    4 or 5 people is heaps.

    1. No one would stop *after* a safety car as it means go directly to last place, do not pass go, do not collect £200.

  15. Closing the pitlane during a safety car situation is just a horrible idea.

    Limiting the number of mechanics might be feasable, but that hardly improves safety. At best it would reduce the number of casualties if something goes horribly wrong (car going trhough the pitlane at 300km/h or a car exploding or somethng)

    We’re not really talking about fatalities here. Only about people getting bruises or at worst a broken bone.

    1. Have to differ about fatalities. That is what has happened, but there remains a massive risk. A loose wheel or a car spinning out could kill many people. Without any kind of barrier, a wheel, parts, or a whole car, could enter a garage and kill numerous bystanders F1 allows to hang out in the garage.

      I almost sense that we’re in a kind of pre-94 mindset about the pit lane. The cars and tracks have become radically safer, but we treat the pitlane, where men and machine come in direct contact, without the same constant vigilence and demand for constant improvement.

    2. dyslexicbunny
      3rd August 2010, 15:57

      “Closing the pitlane during a safety car situation is just a horrible idea.”

      Care to say why? I don’t know how far Williams’ garage was from the Mercedes one but it looked like at least two teams. I imagine that a tire hitting someone in the immediate vicinity can do more harm than just some bruises. The tire bounced well above everyone standing around. Twice.

      I posted that I think it’s surprising that this hasn’t happened yet this season in one of the race review articles and I wanted no more pitting under safety car. Eric makes the same point that I was thinking about too. Now you potentially have cars doubling up after SC comes in. Maybe requiring teams to complete a full lap after SC comes in to spread people out a little bit. It’s not like those laps are hard on tires.

      Plus, you’d also have to allow any team that had vehicle/tire damage from an incident to pit to repair said damage.

      “Limiting the number of mechanics might be feasable, but that hardly improves safety.”

      Limiting mechanics does actually improve safety but only because there are less bodies in the pits. Less bodies = less targets and realistically that would be still a good measure of safety. It does nothing to the car’s safety. However, counting on the car to be safe isn’t enough.

      Imagine if you have the table saws with the handguard technology that stops running if it detects skin. Example:

      So you don’t care about safety because your saw will do it for you. What happens if it isn’t working? How teams conduct pit stops is just as important as the safety technology.

      I say all this but unfortunately, I’m not sure if that will improve things. You now have less guys trying to do a job even faster. I guess in the middle of thinking this through, I went from a yes to maybe.

      “How about minimum time of pit stop, for example 5 seconds, so mechanics would do calmly their job and wold have second or smth to check everything.” – Avril F1

      Enforcing a minimum time will likely just get griping from the teams. Pit stops have always been considered a spot to gain or lose time. You need to reward teams that do it better than others.

      1. People still need to pit. When they have to wait behind the safety car and all bunch up, that makes the mayhem only bigger.

        Also we have seen how losing the pitlane completely ruins peoples races. I guess some people would prefer that seeing how it would “spice up the racing”, but I’d rather see a straight race. One where the outcome is least interfered with when the safety car goes out.

        In that the current rules are clearly superior.

    3. Not closing the pitlane during a safety car is even more horrible if u look at the Valencia race.

      1. No. Then everybody on soft tyres would have been disadvantaged. That’s a whole lot more people than just Alonso and Massa.

  16. I’m more for the reduction of pit stop crew solution, as is solves not just the situation under SC but generally makes for smaller teams and less risk (4 x tyres, 1 x lollipop, 1 with the starter set, maybe another guy allowed to help with front wings and cleaning etc.)
    With those built in jacks there’s also less danger of being run over by the car.
    And make the jacks part of the standard floor/plank and you have a nice standard single source reference plane as well.

    Closing the pitlane under SC would probably need exceptions for damaged cars (but that would be possible with teams having to prove the need in a standard investigation) and would be effective only with the SC out. It would make for simpler rules, so that’s a big plus.

    1. The rule would just need to say something like:

      “The pitlane is closed from the moment the safety car is out. A drive through penalty will be applied to any car entering the pits. No penalty will be carried forward to the next race.”

      That should cover it.

      1. There would have to be some kind of allowance for cars returning to the pits with damage/mechanical issues.

        1. How about:

          If a car enters the pitlane while the safety car is out then it is subject to a minimum time in the pits, say three quarters of the lap time or some other large number.

  17. Pablo2008jedi
    3rd August 2010, 15:49

    Those sound reasonable, infact I wouldn’t both of those “rules” to come in to play next year.

  18. Hi Keith. Closing the pit lane is the best thing to do I think. It’s the least unfair thing to do. For sure if you look at what happened in Valencia.

    1. Yep. Most of the issues in Valencia would have been non-issues if the pitlane had been closed.

      1. Valencia, was a totally different kettle of fish, it involved a Medical Car which had to be escorted to the scene of and accident.

        it will happen again sometime and will catch others out, cant be helped, Safety comes First regardless.

        if your going to close the Pits, then you need to have all cars line up in the same formation they came in back on the track after pitting,
        because the cars from each team that are one behind the other have to wait for there team mate to be finish and that would mean loosing places, otherwise it would be totally unfair.

  19. Make tires last the whole distant, no need for pits… full tank & same rubber all the way…

    reduce aero performance by 50%, and let tires be a little more wider giving more mechanical grip.

  20. Having grown up on Indy cars, I have to admit seeing F1 stops was fascinating. Most American series do limit the number of people allowed over the pit wall (another thing different here: we don’t have garages right there, but pit walls they have to hop over). So I admit I’d be a little sad to see the numbers cut down as it’s something special to see a swarm of mechanics lay on to a car during stops. BUT, I can see your argument and for the sake of safety, I can agree it would probably be positive to cut down the numbers.

  21. I love F1 stops. I love their speed and how the car is just engulfed by people. I hate Indycar stops. They seem so inefficient. 3 second stops are incredible to watch and taking them away would take away from the spectacle that is F1 pitstops.

  22. I agree with the opinion that pit stops could be banned during SC period.

    But not with the fewer mechanics thing. If something arrives out of control in the pit lane its going to hit something either way, and if one mechanic has more than one task to concentrate on, and has to use his spatial awareness to remember where the car is relation to one wheel and another one and the wheel gun and so on…chances are he is not going to notice a wheel blasting in his direction like that Sauber(i think.) mechanic did last Sunday, also if the pitlane is more dense, then if one mechanic reacts to something others are more likely to notice his reaction and become alert and react themselves, you get a bit of pack animal stuff going on, which is more easier for humans to register quickly, rather than reading some physical situation quickly which is not naturally familiar to animals :D.

    Also if I were a mechanic working in pitlane I would appose on limiting the number of allowed mechanics, because I would feel safer and less likely to get hit by something, because there are more people to get hit, therefore the statistical chances of any particular mechanic getting hit are lower. Maybe a false sense of security, but thats how the majority of people always feels, and maybe therefore minimizing some of the stress the mechanics are subjected to anyway, therefore making the job easier and preventing another potential situation, like loose wheel for example.

    Anyway its clear that this is very complicated and there are pros and cons on both limiting and not limiting the number of allowed mechanics in the pitlane, but in the meantime I think this technically most advanced sport should solve some issues with clever stuff, like torque sensors that detect if a wheel nut is tightened properly to allow clutch to be disengaged and so on…

  23. If you close the pitlane at least the drivers maintain their position, nowadays is much easier to pull a gap than to pass several drivers after a safety car situation.

  24. Its easy, ban the use of semi automatic traffic light systems, all the problems were caused because Nico’s car was released before the rear wheel had been fitted and there was no way of stopping the car once the traffic lights were out of the drivers sight.

    1. Kubica was released too early by a lollipop man missing Sutil.

      And Rosberg would not have been prevented by a lollipop man, someone pressed the “ready” button because the air-gun guy stepped back to get a new wheelnut, misinterpreting that move – so the traffic light had little or nothing to do with it.

  25. Looked at a link above of Indy pits on Y*u tube, and there are lots of links to other Indy pit incidents – they are not perfect. Counter that with looking at old F1 races from Aunties website and I was shocked at the amount of people in the pit lane with cars going past on the edge without speed limits.
    F1 does not seem that bad – any changes in the rules should be for the ‘spectacle’ more than for safety or cost cutting. IMO there are other things of a higher priority than this – good to thread to read tho!

    1. Spectacle is higher priority than safety?

      1. Apparently to some people…

        1. J-P and Snobeck
          I have thought about this and yes – spectacle is a higher priority than safety.
          Read my post – Things are lots safer than they were a few years ago, watching cars in the pits with no speed limits and all pit crews in the pits whilst not working on cars reminded my how much safety has improved.
          Keep reducing the ‘spectacle’ and we might as well watch remote control cars – would that be safe enough for you?

  26. I agree with both Keith proposals.
    As we said many times, avoid mandatory pit stops would help also.

  27. The sad thing is if this rule was implemented for 2011 156 people lose their jobs

    1. No they don’t. They still have a lot to do during the weekend.

    2. They don’t employ people to just work in the pitlane.

      All those people have other proper jobs to do during the weekend: truckers, riggers, mechanics, etc.

    3. As others have correctly pointed out, these are all people who perform other tasks during a race weekend.

  28. build in jack was a great idea for F1 but closing pit lane during safety car period to me it’s not “fun”. But all the dramas during pit stop will surely make the race even better

    1. “But all the dramas during pit stop will surely make the race even better”

      I can agree on that, but they are also responsible for some completely unfair results we’ve been seeing lately as well.
      The object of racing is to reward the fastest/cleverest/most reliable. Having people gain or lose positions out of pure luck is just wrong…

  29. It’s crazy this when the wheels came off the toro Rosso car at 180 mph I forget where but they went straight up the tyre wall and over the fence and landed slap bang in the middle of a group of spectators nothing was said when alonso cut massa up going into the pits nothing got said if they had cashed it would have blocked the pits and any driver pitting after wouldn’t have seen them until he came around the corner an it’s to late the point I’m trying to make is driving cars at these speeds and at 62 in the pits is dangerous things can and will go wrong from time to time the people in the pits understand this and accept the risks one of most dangerous jobs in Britain is motorway maintenance lots die each year coz they only close the lane they’re repairing but there they are doing there job. I know safety is importatant but I don’t think the pit crews would rather be out a job would they. And a lot of it is caused by poor pit layouts look at Abu dhabi that tunnels an accident waiting to happen and that’s just one of many bad exit or entrance it’s good to keep improving saftey but let’s keep it real.

    1. It’s crazy this when the wheels came off the toro Rosso car at 180 mph I forget where but they went straight up the tyre wall and over the fence and landed slap bang in the middle of a group of spectators nothing was said

      On the contrary, they’re adding another wheel tether on each corner next year:

      Lowe explains extra wheel tethers for 2011

    2. Charles Carroll
      3rd August 2010, 18:13

      Ah, another reference to the “Buemi Bomb”!

  30. If it worries people this much, how about no pitstops?
    No refueling and full race-length tires?

    1. goodbye overtaking, i’ll see you later when they change the regulations back!

      but seriously, that could promote more development of “passing friendly aero” so perhaps not such a bad idea. and then button would dominate…

  31. Hmm, I can see your point, but I’m not so sure.

    Statistically, of course, cutting the number of people working on a car would reduce the likelihood of injuries, but in the same vane reducing the number of cars on track would reduce the possibility of accidents. I do not think this is a great idea. Very fast pit stops are great to watch, and I would not want to see that changed.

    However, integrated jacks seems a good plan. This could increase the speed of the stop and reduce the likelihood of injuries (no more front jack man standing right in front of a car doing 60mph trying to stop exactly right in the least amount of time). I see nothing wrong with that idea, and it could even be extended to the point where they replace the ‘lolipop’.

    I can’t see much trouble with closing the pit lane for safety cars but I think there is another, better way to deal with that: A complete rethink of the safety car rules.

    The safety car is an outdated concept, which effectively kills the race. I would prefer to see a couple of different options:
    1) For a relatively minor incident causing a safety car type situation, speed limiters which cause all cars to keep to a reasonable speed.

    2) Where there is something which needs more time with marshals on track, do as I have seen in motorcycle events: Stop the race, have the cars line up on the grid (with an optional pit beforehand) in the order they last crossed the line, then restart when the incident is dealt with.

    Some people have said this is not a good idea, that it kills the race, but you are only watching a procession anyway under an SC, and it means the marshals can get the job done quicker as they are not wondering when the pack will get back round.

    1. Accidental Mick
      3rd August 2010, 17:25

      I agree with you about the Safety Car being unneccessary – I have mooted the same suggestions on other threads.

    2. Where there is something which needs more time with marshals on track, do as I have seen in motorcycle events: Stop the race, have the cars line up on the grid (with an optional pit beforehand) in the order they last crossed the line, then restart when the incident is dealt with.

      I would be very happy with that situation but, realistically, I don’t think it will happen because TV directors don’t like it. That’s why we had the idiocy of 20-odd laps behind the safety car at Fuji three years ago.

      1. and don’t forget the start of the chinese gp last year.

  32. HewisLamilton
    3rd August 2010, 17:05

    Very interesting article and responses.

    I think it would be interesting to see the stats of accidents in the pit lane in Indycar vs F1 vs NASCAR and see just how they compare. I wonder which series actually has the most incidents in the pit lane.

  33. I wouldn’t mind seeing some catchfence seperating each team’s pit box.
    Doesn’t have to be bombproof, but just enough to stop stray wheels turning packed pitlanes into bowling alleys

    What would be the problem with putting a series of short walls in the painted space between pitlane and pitboxes, Bernie could still sell advertising on them, and they would protect the backs of the currently horribly exposed mechanics busy working a car while mayhem happens in the pitlane behind them.

    I’d also suggest to disallow stacking, only one car allowed, the pit boxes are hard enough to cleanly exit and much much too crowded, without another team’s car blocking your way out; some of the steering angles and spun rear tyres drivers are applying just to get out of their box is asking for trouble.

  34. I would leave it as it is, but close the pit lane when the Safety Car comes out. I believe the reason it happened was because it was a bit chaotic in the pit lane.

  35. This is a ‘Team Sport’ isn’t it? ;)

    Whatever is deemed to be the most efficient number by any given team should be their decision and theirs alone.

    Instead of limiting the pit crew why not reduce the pit lane speed limit further still?

  36. I don’t want slower stops, the quicker the stops the more dramatic and the more likely teams will choose an alternate strategy with an extra stop, something that I’d like to see more of not less. Don’t mind internal jacks, so long as they don’t trigger accidentally… one more thing to go wrong, but not opposed to it.

    It’s an interesting proposal, but no thanks. Although if we got rid of the crowds they’d be safer too…

  37. Why not have the driver come into the pit area, switch the engine of, get out of the car and then ring a bell on a concrete enclosure where the pit crew are. They come out change the tyres and then return to the bunker and the driver after having a coffee gets back in the car and he is escorted out of the pits with someone walking in front of him waving a red flag and sounding a horn until he crosses the line at the exit.
    I don’t want to see anyone injured in F1 but can we please leave it alone. If most of these suggestions were to happen we would end up with the fans 10 km from the track and forced to were fire suits and safety goggles. F1 pit crews have also had an important input out with the sport, hospital theatres and A&E units have improved because of how F1 crews work. They are all big boys, let them get on with it and the rivalry they have between the teams.

    1. If most of these suggestions were to happen we would end up with the fans 10 km from the track

      I haven’t suggested anything even remotely as extreme as that. I’ve proposed one thing that’s already used in another major open-wheel racing series, and one idea that’s already been used in F1 before. Hardly radical thinking.

      The reason you see so few people injured is because of incremental improvements in safety based on learning from experience. There’s no reason why the same shouldn’t apply here.

      1. Keith, this was not aimed at you. I understand and fully appreciate that you raise a topic and it is then discussed. Personally I think not allowing stops during safety cars would solve most issues and reduce the chance of accidents in the pit lane. The pit stop is an integral part of the sport and can be responsible for a large part of on track action. I made a flippant comment in response to some of the comments posted.

  38. Closing the pitlane is an excellent idea I feel. Now that there is no danger of someone running out of fuel on the road, cars can continue following the safety car for the entire safety car period.

    But as you rightly point out, their could be controversies with this, as some cars with wing damage (which brought out the safety car in the first place) won’t be able to pit. But I guess a modification to the rules can be brought about. For eg: Any change of tyres made during a pit-stop which falls in a safety car period does not count as the mandatory pit-stop for the particular driver. Thus, the driver who does pit and take on newer tyres will have to pit again after safety car to do his mandatory pit stop.

    1. you can quiter easily drive around with no front wing, if any part of the car is damaged they should just pull over and retire.

    2. What if rather than wing damage, a car has suffered a puncture due to debris from the accident which triggered the safety car.

      This driver/team gets punished by having to do an additional stop? Or has to drive around behind the safety car spreading rubber and body parts across the track as the tire comes apart?

      1. No, in that case by all means pit.

        But this pit stop won’t count towards your mandatory pit-stop.

        Actually, they should keep the pit-stop open only. But only refuse to count the pit stops made during this period as counting towards the mandatory pit stop.

  39. For me the issue isnt the number of people working on the cars in the pitlane, it’s just the lack of safety mechanisms. I’ve just watched the BBC F1 Fan Forum, and there are number of interesting points raised. David Coulthard mentions that in DTM the car is unable to leave the jacks until the wheels pass a certain torque on the guns, to ensure all the wheels on. Eddie Jordan also suggests that mechanisms which stop a car leaving its box if another is coming into it’s “danger zone”, which I think could be a great idea. Assuming a peace of software is developed and made fool proof, this could work. All the cars have the same ECU now, so it shouldnt cause any conflicts in the car.

    The above takes away the margin of error in which a human can make a mistake. Generally with robotics, margin for error is much smaller. However, that said, having a human there as an extra safeguard would do no harm. For example, it is possible for aircraft to take off, fly and land without a pilot nowadays, but you would still want a pilot on board in case things did go pear shaped.

    I’m more inclined for the re-introduction of the rule where the pit lane is closed. The main reason it was removed was because cars were running out of fuel on track – this is not an issue now. However, on the flip side, the re-introduction of the rule may only perlong the rush of cars coming back to the pits. Once the safety car pits, it is possible that all the cars will pit at once – so it could in theory only be perlonging an accident.

    It’s tough, but F1 doesnt need to react just yet. This is just one weekend in which two incidents occured, it may not happen again for a long time.

  40. You know, if you want to preserve the “spectacle” of F1 as the top of motor racing (of which pit stops is and rightly so, only a small part), why not make pit stops more challenging by reducing the number of mechanics allowed to work on the car? Not only does this reduce the number of bodies to reduce likelihood of accidents as Keith suggests, but I think it would not detract from, and indeed could add to the overall show.

    It’s been a long standing belief of mine that one of the very best things about NASCAR over almost any other racing series is the pitstops – despite all the limitations the mechanics have to deal with (limited number of people over the wall, let alone working on the car, 6-lug nuts per wheel, side jacks only, fuelling cans instead of rigs, etc) they are probably the best pit crews in the world for what they do – the level of coordination and refinement in a NASCAR pit stop is truly impressive, and shows off the professionalism and skill of the team as a whole I think, much more than an efficient but slightly dull F1 stop involving a ton of guys all performing what amounts to one action each.

    And also, by having the crew out of the way of the cars until they arrive, you reduce incidents where drivers do not stop in time and hit crew members accidentally, i.e. Schumacher and Nakajima


    i would close the pits the moment SC is declared, allowing for cars already entering the pits at that exact time and cars with punctured tires. pits would re-open after the snake forms and any necessary running order adjustments. if a puncture isn’t of the obviously shredded variety, they should be confiscated and tested by the fia – easy as a tub full of water.

    i never understood why the fia (LOL, fill in the blank) prohibits pneumatic jacks built into the car. they have been used in le mans successfully for many years now.

    another thing is self-starting cars. anti-stall is good, increasing safety and keeping cars in the race, but starter motors would take both a step further. also it would make for a more legitimate automobile and add to the technical challenge.

    1. if they close the pit and re-open after the snake forms, you would have 2 cars in every box trying to change tires, how crazy is that.

      think about it, it wont work.

      let them dive in then only the ones that are one two have a problem.

      since they now pick up the first car its worked fine, so leave it as is.

      your right about the air jacks they work great, they should incorporate these.

      1. i think removing the compulsory tire change would go a long way towards relieving pit lane traffic jams, too

        1. Frank from Oz
          4th August 2010, 7:07

          I second that!
          It would also force drivers to overtake on track (and make designers build cars that can do that).

  42. Less mechanics will mean more wheels flying off. Drive-throughs, grid drops and points penalties will help concentrate their minds more than a fine. What is the actual cost of a lost track position – a win or a finish in the points – compared to an occasional fine? Safety aside most would say super fast pit stops are worth the risk.

    1. Charles Carroll
      3rd August 2010, 20:08

      I have to disagree with your first point, judo chop. There are plenty of other series, with faster and heavier cars, that use far less crew members and do not have wheels flying off. In addition, its not as if their pit stops are dreadfully slow either, and most of those series have refueling as well.

      In a way, it is quite embarrassing to have 19 crew members in the pit and STILL seeing wheels flying off. If more crew members meant less mistakes and more safety, most would do it.

      1. @ Charles Carroll. Pit stops in those series are nowhere near as fast as in F1. It’s the pressure to do things as fast as possible that causes errors. One mechanic changing a wheel as fast as possible will make more than mistakes than three doing the same task. Less mechanics in the pit lane to get but more wheels flying around. The FIA could also introduce a minimum time period for stops – 8 secs maybe – so teams can be more patient.

  43. I remember one of the Brabhams [I think it was the one with the radiators directly in front of its wheels] that had built in hydraulic jacks. So Formula 1 has done it before, it can do it again, it could introduce that, that gets rid of two mechanics on its own.

  44. I like the idea of cut to 6 mechanics per pitstop, that would make things a little bit more interesting and can “improve the show”..

  45. Another possibility would be to have a *minimum* pitstop time – say 10 seconds – reducing the chance of hurried mistakes.

    1. I like that one, but it’s not very F1… I guess you still want a bit of competitiveness between the teams at pit stops.

  46. In order to avoid another Kubica/Sutil accident the use of the automatic jacks and some sensors could greatly help. each box could have a simple proximity sensor that lowers the car a certain time after another vehicle has approached such sensor. the sensor can be infra-red type or a simple pressure sensor like a wire marking the beginning of the pit box. that way the driver would not be able to touch ground if a car is close enough and could cause a collision.

    concerning the Safety car, in order to avoid cars running out of fuel, etc maybe they could put a limit on the number of cars allowed in the pits and maybe allow teams to only call one driver at a time as well (although this could be a bit controversial. to be honest having both cars line-up is dangerous, rosberg’s tire could have fallen on a driver as well. Maybe if 6 or 8 cars were allowed in the pit lane at a time this could reduce the number of mechanics out at the same time. that way we still get to observe blazing fast stops. the pit-lane would be open for cars to exit and only open for new cars to come in after another has left its spot.

    maybe all teams should use the light system as well, and the guns should have a sensor the only activates once the wheel nut is released. the light system could be upgraded to having four lights signaling the change of tyres. that way four lights would be on- or off once four wheel nuts have been released. if the wheel nut is stuck or a new gun is required, then the light would not have been set off. in combination with my first proximity sensor, the driver would not be able to leave the box either cause the car would still be up in the air.

    1. Why not have a system whereby the car can only be released when all the mechanics have returned to the interior of the garage.

      That would clear the mechanics out of the way of other cars and make it quite obvious when one mechanic had a problem changing a wheel.

  47. What if the number of mechanics allowed to work on each car was reduced to 6 (4 on tires, 1 lollipop man and 1 to plug in the hose for the air jack) but then have 2 pit bays for each team, one per car. If you closed the pitlane until the snake forms behind the safety car then i’m sure it would be a spectacular sight which would improve “the show”. My only reservation is that most pitlanes wouldn’t have room for 24 individual pit stalls.

    Oh yh while we on the topic, why do they have mecahnics hold the air line out the way when a team near thems about pit? They could have them retract up into those gantry things they have over the car. Its just a matter of time till a driver gets caught up in neibouring teams airlines, i think it happened in GP2 last year although i may be wrong.

  48. In Hungary’s case closing the pit lane would have given advantage to Button and Liuzzi who were only drivers who had pitted before the safety car. Ironically, Liuzzi was the one whose debris caused the whole safety car.

    Limiting pit crew is better option. GP2 has five or six in their stops, although they change only two wheels in the stop. Would actually limiting pit crew per car help in getting both cars worked at the same time? Let’s say seven people per car, which would mean 14 per team, which is still less than we have working around the car now.

  49. Supersoft tyres only during a race and ban pit stops :)

  50. I just didn’t get why they weren’t returning to the 2007/08 Safety car rules. It was only necessary for cars to come into the pit lane back then because they needed fuel. It really should have been a no-brainer…

  51. Does anyone else think it ironic that probably the most dangerous time and place in an F1 race is in the pits during a safety car period!

    1. well said (comment too short)

  52. Florida Mike
    4th August 2010, 1:39

    I would love to see the elimination of the requirement to use both sets of tires and the mandatory pit stop. I would allow a team to decide if it wants to go the whole race on one set of hard or two (or three)sets of the soft, or whatever combination the team sees fit. Maybe allow the teams to combine compinds in one set; hard on the right and soft on the left

    Maybe the best way to make pit stops safer is to reduce the number of pit stops.

  53. I know we are talking about pit stops here but in my opinion we need to be talking about the way single seater cars are launching off the back of another, there was another horrible crash in Superleague at Brands Hatch, just like the Webber and GP2 crash at Valencia, only he launched straight into an advertising board!

    these are 3 lucky escapes in just past few weeks, the back of the cars are too low its too easy to mount a slowing car in front and be launched off the back of it surely there is some safety improvements to made here. Pit stops are part of the sport i dont see any need change them at the risk of fire is less now than in the past only and human error is part of the sport.

  54. As I said before that the Formula 1 pit lane is the third most dangerous place to work in the world next to the ‘deck of an oil rig’ & the ‘deck of a aircraft carrier which flies planes in the middle of the sea.

    I think that reducing the number people serviced a car from 19 to 10-12 won’t be a bad idea as it will make it some safe & the car will be stationary for 6-7 seconds other than 4-5 seconds.

  55. I feel for the Renault lolipop guy, because I saw that same wall of people that Keith must have seen and you would have to give even money that flying tyre was in the corner of his eye too.

    Three things strike me.

    The theatre of the NASCAR pitstop is better and they restrict numbers by doing one side at a time.

    The wheel guns and various hubs seem hopeless and NASCAR multiple wheel nuts are part of the theatre that seems to work by keeping the wheels on the car too.

    Lastly the Ferrari auto light system was a dog and whenever it is a human it will fail sometime and need to be given a second chance.

    nb: I’m not sure if the autojacks would be better and need to think that through more

    1. You’re right about the Sprint Cup pit stop (although they’re cutting the assistant fueler with new self-venting fuel cans next season). The six-man stops (fueler, two tyre changers, two tyre carriers, one jackman) have become extremely competitive in the past 25 years where a 23-second 4-tyre stop of the 1986 “Flying Aces” of Richard Childress Racing would be a slow poke today, when stops are in the 13-second bracket. Teams hire tyre changers based on athletic ability. Today’s jack men are usually in the 195cm 110kg range and are extremely muscular where they can pull the car up in one pump.

      The athletic ability of the tyre changers is crucial. In one pit foul in Fontana (California) in February, a Ganassi Bass Pro tyre carrier tried to retrieve an errant tyre (errant tyres are penalised) that ran into the Childress Shell pit box. The Childress car was leaving when that took place and the Ganassi mechanic hurdled over the bonnet to do his job.
      But you’re right. Even with six the changes would be watching their back and their ability to jump over cars to avoid incidents would be there.

  56. The Indy solution is the best i believe. 6 mechanics at most, with built in jacks. but i guess the B.I.Js pneumatic or hydraulic system would add a weight oenalty on the cars.

    i never understood why the teams don’t install plate jacks in the pits. the car drives over them, the team pit boss hits a button to activate the jack the whole car goes up, tires changed, the jack goes down and off they go… would be easier than 2 separate jacks…

  57. I don’t think that closing the Pit Lane during a SC period would make much difference to safety in the Pit Lane itself, since if all the teams need to Box at the same time, that could happen at any point during a race, such as having to change to wets for a sudden rain storm.
    Having seen all the Pit Crews out at once, there did seem to be a huge number of people standing around waiting to be run over or hit by something. I am amazed the drivers could even see where their Box was, and to be able to leave again safely.
    I don’t think the teams would like the idea of cutting the Pit Crew now they have a competition on for the fastest stop times, I think they would be more likely to be looking at using available technology both in the Pit Lane and on the cars, but it would have to be something agreed by all of them, or imposed by the FIA.
    So, my solution is:
    1. clutch release connected to the wheel nuts (to stop a ‘Rosberg’ scenario)
    2. lollipop man working stop/go lights from the Pit Wall (so he can see all the Pit Lane)
    3. stop/go lights connected to the sensors in the Pit Lane (in case he misses something)
    4. stop/go lights in the car (so the driver doesn’t get a vague message)
    5. organise a separate wheel changing competition between the Pit Crews over the Race Weekend (so they can still have fun without the electronic aids).
    Unfortunately this still won’t make the Pit Lane safer from speeding cars or loose items, but that I think is down to the training everyone in the teams are given.

  58. I like the former idea but think 13 is a more realistic number, 2 per wheel, the jack men (don’t particularly like this being automated (kinda screws you completely if you miss your mark at all), lollipop guy (the electronic system could replace him though I like the human element to this). Then two to check for damage, change wings, clean the air ducts, start the car when it stalls.

    Although not as big a change this would still cut it down by a fair old number.

  59. perhaps it would be possible to position some sort of sensor on each wheel or suspension arm that physically won’t let the car start if a wheel isn’t properly secured? possibly the same sort of thing for refuelling if ever it is re-introduced. That wheel in the pitlane was just scary. i certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near that!

  60. Why do we need pit stops any way? I propose a ban on tyre changes, except for damaged or punctured tyres.

    1. I think thats even more dangerous becuase you have teams running on near ended tyres and tyre failure is even more dangerous.

  61. Your number is off by one – if you wanted 4 tire changers and 2 for a front wing, you’d need 7 – the built-in jack requires an external source of compressed air (there’s obviously not a tank or room for a compressor *on* the car). The second guy that comes running in next to the fuel hose has an air hose; he controls the raising/lowering of the car.

  62. I don’t think your idea would work Keith, because as soon as the pit lane is open at least 10 cars would dash in to make their stops.

  63. Heres what I think should be done,
    The very second that the saftey car is deployed the computer should note every drivers position and feed this info to the teams.
    Every team pits 1 of their cars first time around and their second car next time round.
    All cars then bunch up behind the safty car and they are given time to sort out their positions that were noted as the safty car was deployed.

    This would stop drivers trying to make up time coming into and out of the pits.

    As there is no time to be gained under this new system if would be alot less stressful for the teams and the drivers.

    The only thing we lose is the possibility of one or two drivers overtaking another throught that pit stop phase. but the safty aspect would be addressed.

  64. Both ideas are great! I think they should be considered for making the sport more interesting, not just safer.

    With no refueling really makes you wonder why they didn’t revert to the no-pitting-during-safety-car rule. The likelyhood of a critical need to change tires during safetycar is small, as are the implications of not being able to.

    Even then it could be possible to enter the closed pits by assuming a suspended penalty while proof of a critical tyre problem (such as a slow puncture) be submitted to the marshalls. It’s infinitely more intuitive to fans than current regulations – safety car equals no pitting. A car breaching the no pitting rule would indicate sporting weakness, which is in itself interesting to follow.

    Having just a handful of mechanics would make the team less anonymous and further the spectator understanding of what goes on. More cameras, fixed or attached to the mechanics would allow remote inspection of car status, at no cost to spectator experience. If the team really suspects something is wrong then it’s logical to take a time hit for necessary manual inspecting by the mechanics after routine duties. Team footage from pit stops could be edited into an in-show technical analysis.

    The built in jacks would increase driver incentive and promote skill to stop with precisely, thus increasing both safety and sporting challenge. Having just four wheel mechanics to keep track of maybe it could even be handed to the driver to do the job of the lollypop man as well as to operate the jacks electronically, thus offsetting some challenge from the rather busy team to the otherwise idle driver, increasing driver-team timing and collaboration.

    I’d think that F1 would quickly find a way to utilize it’s resources better than having hundreds of mechanics trying to look cool on their chairs for the better part of 2 hours each race.

    Of course, less people puts more pressure on the guys that remain, but on the other hand more people increases complexity risk.

  65. Maybe they could bring back the pit lane closure. In these days of no refuelling, there is no real need for a driver to make a pit stop. At safety car speeds, surely the tyres would last a few laps longer if needed?

  66. I can’t believe we’re even suggesting the idea to close the pitlane during the safety car again, after everyone was begging it be got rid of. It was no doubt the worst rule to grace F1 – if there was a SC in a race it would have been more worthwhile just to abort the race and pick the winner out of a hat.

    1. The rule didn’t work due to the need to refuel, and so the main arguement has been removed now.

    2. Only because cars could ave ran out of fuel during a safety car period. That was the one and only issue with closing the pitlane, and because of no refuelling now, I thing closing the pitlane during the safety car is the most logical thing to do.

      Reverting to a previous rule that in effect closed the pitlane to all traffic with the exception of cars needing maintenance for reliabilty issues, ie broken front wings, retirements, would be all that is needed.

      Capping the number of mechanics in the pit lane could be something to explore in the future, but I do believe it is uneccesary – rarely are most mechanics in the pitlane simultaneosly outside of a safety car period, like Australia this year. And in IndyCar, teams do not have one pit crew, each car does.

  67. I don’t have a huge problem with the number of pit stop crew but do dislike the lottery that is the pit stop during the saftey car.

    Closing it is an option, but there needs to be guidelines for damaged cars etc.

    Perhaps leave the pit lane open, but tyre compound changes done under safey car don’t count – this way everyone would still have to pit under race conditions to use the other type. It would disuade most people from pitting as they’d lose track position.

  68. I think pit safety in F1 is pretty good and we shouldn’t overreact to every incident that happens in the sport.

    I think reducing the number of mechanics is a good way forward. However, I would like to give a resounding NO to closing the pits during a safety car period. It doesn’t solve the problem. Although we don’t have re-fueling, if we do have a safety car deployed during a major pit stop window for tyres, for the majority of teams, then aren’t those cars that are affected all going to stream into the pits once the safety car comes in? Personally, I think that the safety car and any subsequent pit stops en masse add to the drama.

    Although we should strive to improve safety, mistakes happen as these are human beings working under pressure situations, and sadly people can get hurt as a consequence.

    1. @Baz, the likelyhood of all cars really needing to go during SC deployment is is slim. Even then the problem is really the current situation when both cars in every team is pulled in immediately upon SC deployment for the only reason of not loosing out massively. In the closed pitlane scenario there’s no such dramatic need and the potential disaster of going to a crowded pitlane can be weighed against staying out another lap or two.

      1. In other words, currently an SC always throws strategies in the air. With closed pitlanes that would only happen rarely. While this would arguably make it more difficult for some average team to grab a podium from sheer luck every now and then, it is also more fair.

  69. In my opinion its safe enough. If F1 becomes too safe and nothing exciting ever happens then it will become dull. Like why was group B rally so popular? because it was very dangerous

  70. Having the pit stops so quick and having so many mechanics around the car is (IMO) part of what makes F1 so special, it’s about being the fastest. Limiting the size of the crew would make stops look slow and cumbersome, at the moment watching a Red Bull stop is jaw dropping, the car barely stops…

    Limiting the number of people in the pit’s is something I’d back, aslong as that allowed teams to keep the same number of mechanics working on the car.
    The guy who was hit by the tyre never saw it coming becasue he had his back to it, a pit crew who is out in the pit lane would be looking in the right direction.

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