FOM change pit lane practice after accident

F1 Fanatic Round-up

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Nurburgring, 2013In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone says his cameramen will work from the pit wall after one of them was struck by a tyre during the German Grand Prix.

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TV crews to work from pit wall after Germany accident (The Guardian)

Bernie Ecclestone: “There was a whole bunch of mechanics and the tyre could have hit any one of those guys. The cameraman just happened to be looking the wrong way at the wrong time. In future, all our camera crews will only be allowed to film from the pit wall.”

Martin Whitmarsh fears F1 is becoming ‘complacent’ after cameraman is hurt by bouncing tyre at German Grand Prix (The Independent)

“We have become a little bit complacent. Those of us who were around 25 years ago without speed limits could smell the inherent danger.”

Mercedes hopes to win testing reprieve (Autosport)

“Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn has admitted, however, that Mercedes’ only real chance of getting some running would be if the test ran into a fourth day – something that is unlikely to happen.”

New tyres key to title – Ferrari (ESPN)

“What happens from Hungary onwards, I don’t know because we know what the construction is and we know what the compounds are but we have never tested them together. We see how things can change so quickly with a couple of degrees [in track temperature] so you have one car that is very quick on Friday and then struggling on Sunday. I think this is really the challenge that all the engineers at the teams will have to face over the next few weeks.”

Montezemolo: “I have faith in the team: now it?s time for results” (Ferrari)

Stefano Domenicali: “There is a crucial test which we must exploit to the maximum, in terms of both the performance of the tyres and the technical development of the car.”

Changes costing Force India (Sky)

Deputy team principal Bob Fernley: “The tyres obviously have an effect but how big an effect is difficult to determine. Is there a great deal of point in making the effort to try and figure it out, when we’re going to have a completely new set of tyres as well for Hungary?”

Gary Anderson: Pit stops should be slowed down (BBC)

“I would suggest reducing the number of people allowed to work on the pit stop to two on each wheel, a front and rear jack, and the ‘lollipop’ man who controls the driver.”

Helmets and Overalls (James Moy Photography)

“Which is more dangerous? The F1 pit lane with 12 highly experienced cameramen providing imagery to a world audience? Or the Le Mans pit lane full of amateur photographers with a desire to snap a nice photo for their bedroom wall?”

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Comment of the day

@Guilherme says too much time was wasted behind the Safety Car on Sunday:

The Safety Car stayed far too long to remove a car that, once stopped by the advertising board, shouldn?t warrant a safety car in the first place. And that was just because of the “lapped cars may overtake rule”, which in my opinion is unacceptable whether it is Chilton or Webber who is lapped.

In reality that safety car should have stayed just long enough to remove the Marussia and for the field to catch up. The two extra laps it took for Webber to catch up were two racing laps thrown away.
@Guilherme

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72 comments on FOM change pit lane practice after accident

  1. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 9th July 2013, 0:11

    No matter what you do to the pitstops you can’t avoid these kind of incidents, putting restrictions on teams won’t eliminate mistakes because teams will still push to make the stops as fast as possible.
    The solution the FIA introduced is a good one because camera men don’t wear safety gear, but as for all the mechanics I think the danger is part of the job and they accept that.
    One thing I thought of is maybe enforcing a rule that a stop must not be shorter the 4 seconds, that way teams won’t be in a rush, but that will eliminate any competition in the pits and frankly is quite silly

    • Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 9th July 2013, 1:04

      No matter what you do to the pitstops you can’t avoid these kind of incidents, putting restrictions on teams won’t eliminate mistakes because teams will still push to make the stops as fast as possible.

      @mnm101 – uhhh, sorry but yes, sure you can. teams that push safety aside for speed in the pit stop should be penalized EPICLY if they mess-up and someone gets hurt – or even if no one gets hurt but a wheels still goes careening down the pit lane, w/ mechanics jumping out of the way.

      That kind of systemic failure, resulting purely from RUSHING, from taking too little time to do the job properly, should be responded to with:

      1) a huge monetary fine
      2) a sporting penalty, but WCC points loss only, as it’s not the driver’s fault the team failed to release him safely (W/ a complete car)
      3) OSHA-like civil and/or criminal investigation – you’d think that in Germany of all places, where labor actually used to enjoy substantial rights and legal protections, there would be the infrastructure to address this and penalize those who flaunt safety and WANTONLY put lives at risk!

      RIght, @keithcollantine?

    • Proesterchen (@proesterchen) said on 9th July 2013, 7:45

      No matter what you do to the pitstops you can’t avoid these kind of incidents, putting restrictions on teams won’t eliminate mistakes because teams will still push to make the stops as fast as possible.

      Having flow-rate limited refueling devices very effectively put in a floor to the pit stop times that enabled the tyre guys to do their job, check it and report to the lollipop without being rushed.

      And I don’t remember people complaining about sub-6 second stops being the quick ones.

      • hawkii (@hawkii) said on 9th July 2013, 9:47

        Completely agree, when pit stops are barely lasting for 3 seconds, by the time someone’s had a chance to recognise and report an error, the car has already started moving off. Watching how well they (usually) execute these pit stops is incredible, but I don’t think anyone would complain if we removed a man or two off each wheel, and slowed the stop down.

        I also don’t think the traffic light systems are helping in this regard, I have a feeling people are almost hitting the “complete” signal almost as a matter of habit (in the same way you automatically hit yes on a confirmation dialog without thinking about it). If we mandated cars can only go on the lollipop man’s signal, and all wheel gun mechanics go back to the old fashioned hand-over-the-wheel to indicate when they’re done, it might solve some of the issues.

        Also, the Force India release was one of the most dangerous I’ve seen in a long time and kind of got lost with the whole cameraman thing. Good job JEV was on the ball or that could have been nasty.

    • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 9th July 2013, 11:45

      The pit stops don’t need to be slowed down, they need to be managed better. Modern day technology would allow sensor to be used on wheel nuts etc to prevent a car from being launched. F1 is the pinnacle of Motorsport, there is no need to penalize the team that get the best results, the process just needs to be improved.

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 9th July 2013, 15:03

      How about the fact that there are, what, 19 guys working on the car at once, not to mention any number of people strolling across the pit lane for their own private errands? Accidents will happen so don’t bother to try stopping them is a 19th century mentality, usually exerted against those without the means or wherewithal to protect themselves better. There are too many people in the F1 pit lane, period. And as of now, many of them are protetced by nothing more than a snazzy team button-down and a pair of shorts. The pit speed limit means that the cars are only now going about the speed of cars on a main road, but they accellerate to that speed in a blink. The unsafe release business needs a crackdown too. It’s well and good to rely on the drivers dodge one another in a close call but if a car climbed on the back of another coming out of its box and flipped into the air, it would not be the first time that happened in a major open wheel series. And unlike in other series, the F1 pit lane looks like a pedestrian shopping zone on Saturday afternoon. Keith did a compendium of these pitlane accidents a while back and maybe he should repost it now that this debate is new again.

  2. Tyler (@tdog) said on 9th July 2013, 0:23

    So Marussia will run the guy with talent for one day at the YDT, and the guy with money for two days. Still, given their financial position, they should be applauded for giving Ellinas some time in the cockpit.

    • the_sigman (@sigman1998) said on 9th July 2013, 7:30

      Great feeling to see Ellinas testing, even for a day. Despite it being announced last year, I was a bit anxious because I feared that Marussia would give some time to their drivers. Well done Eytyxie!!

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 9th July 2013, 7:46

      I see it as Gonzales money paying for Ellinas to get some track time. Good to see Marussia at least do their best to give talented drivers a go.

  3. Scootin159 (@scootin159) said on 9th July 2013, 0:49

    Why not implement a trick the SCCA’s used for years: give the cameramen spotters. Since you don’t have good peripheral through the viewfinder, just have someone stand nearby to watch their back. Finding qualified volunteers shouldn’t be a chore – heck I’ll volunteer for the Canadian GP. I’m fully qualified to stand in pit lane all day for free, and watch for flying tires.

    • Jay (@j-rva) said on 9th July 2013, 2:18

      I love this idea.

    • Yappy said on 9th July 2013, 3:03

      We seem to be forgetting what year we are in. Cameras can be fitted on overhead crane’s which would cover more pit lane action. We also have drones which the news people use to spy on celebrities.

      • BasCB (@bascb) said on 9th July 2013, 7:47

        Not sure adding an extra wavelength for raido controlled drones in the pitlane is a good idea really. And its only a couple of guys doing the Pitlane filming, I am pretty sure the spotter idea would do a lot to keep them safer.

        • Fisha695 (@fisha695) said on 9th July 2013, 9:23

          As far as I’m aware the FOM already have a camera drone and they were using/testing it during the Silverstone weekend. Seen a tweet about it from one of the reporters or team PR people, not sure which one though. I believe it may have been at Monaco too.

    • thatscienceguy said on 9th July 2013, 9:41

      I know of a few motorsport categories which have spotters/helpers for pitlane cameramen. I was very surprised when I saw F1 didn’t. My initial thought was that this would be averted immediately by providing a second person.

    • Funkyf1 (@funkyf1) said on 9th July 2013, 11:38

      We have the technology to avoid any human danger regarding camera footage, why are they not using I??

    • OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 9th July 2013, 19:17

      @scootin159 wouldn´t spotters crowd the pit even more? And if you see the footage, the wheel bounced back at the very last second, changing a direction which may have hit another person too.

  4. Joe Papp (@joepa) said on 9th July 2013, 0:59

    Ultimately, it’s the responsibility of the teams and their mechanics to release the cars safely. RBR deserved a fine at least triple what they were charged (if not x10!) plus a sporting penalty! 30kUSD is no disincentive whatsoever to pit stops so fast that safety is compromised, and there’s no deterrent effect from such a tiny financial penalty. How many times have we seen improperly-secured wheels detach from cars either in the pit lane or just out on track? I can think of three or four incidents in the past few years, though thankfully no one was hit by the wheels – and at least one of the failures saw a wheel go careening down the length of the garages, w/ commentators at the time saying on TV how lucky we were that no one was hurt.

    @keithcollantine, can you catalog these incidents for us? Do you know the one I’m talking about that occurred in past few years? Same thing as Webber’s from Germany, but w/o a casualty…

    • DaveW (@dmw) said on 9th July 2013, 15:09

      I agree. With all the outrage of the MB test scandal, I find it shocking that RBR commit a gross error that could have easily killed a non-participant, and did in fact seriously injure someone, and they get off with a fine that is less than a weekend’s catering bill. I was sure Webber was going to be DQ’d on the spot and I was quite amazed to seem him back on the track.

  5. Zantkiller (@zantkiller) said on 9th July 2013, 1:26

    I hope this means we will get more interesting camera shots in the pitlane.
    In my opinion all you need to properly cover pitstops are cameras located directly above each pit box facing down and one tracking camera which covers the length of the pitlane.

  6. obviously said on 9th July 2013, 1:41

    “Rush looks fantastic btw. I don’t like F1 but it seems much more interesting than just the sport as a base.”
    This makes me think that movie will be rubbish when it comes to portraying F1 itself.
    But then again, why the hell would you need a movie of something that you are already watching on a TV?

    When you go through that logical steps, you conclude that only thing that movie about F1 can offer, that F1 races can’t, is some personal angle on drivers, human drama and similar stuff, that I honestly don’t really dig when it comes to filthy-rich sportsmen.

  7. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 9th July 2013, 1:56

    That rule of the lapped caris very weird. If the carswere lapped, it was for being slow or for having a problem, but problemsare part of the sport. They don’t need a reward like “oh , what a pity you were lapped, but now go and catch up”

    • Yappy said on 9th July 2013, 3:12

      The old rule was the backmarkers’ lined up in the pack behind the SC. So you would find the car in first then a few lapped cars then the car in second. This caused a hazardous situation going into the first corner as well as giving the car in first an advantage to build a gap. That’s why cars are allowed to unlap themselves.

    • Diego (@ironcito) said on 9th July 2013, 5:15

      They could allow them to unlap themselves without actually going all the way around the circuit. Suppose a lapped car is 10th in line, it could just slow down and let the other cars pass, ending up at the end of the line. Not only would it be faster, but there wouldn’t be cars going around the circuit in a hurry to catch up, which could endanger or delay the marshalls working on whatever caused the SC.

      • mantresx (@mantresx) said on 9th July 2013, 6:10

        @ironcito I’ve always wondered that myself but the other day I came up with an explanation, if a car is lapped in P22 but the one he’s fighting for position in P21 isn’t, then the car behind would gain an advantage by effectively running a race with one less lap, yes the positions are the same but other things aren’t, like fuel, tyre life, engine, etc

        • Diego (@ironcito) said on 9th July 2013, 10:35

          @mantresx True, but no solution is going to be perfect. The SC is already likely to give a considerable advantage or disadvange to some drivers, including those at the front and fighting for the championship. The difference in fuel and tyres from one lap at medium speed is minimal, and it will only affect backmarkers.

  8. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 9th July 2013, 4:14

    the way SC is deployed is totally wrong. what they should do is:

    1. incident or condition occurs, decision to deploy SC is made
    2. declare SC, no passing, all drivers must slow and prepare to stop in affected area(s), pit exit closed
    3. SC takes the track directly ahead of leader, pack forms up, pit exit open
    4. situation resolved, SC in, no passing until the start and/or finish line

    this would avoid the entire go around/drop back issue while still putting the leader in front. closing the pit exit would avoid the “kinda” racing situation and prevent freebie pit stops. lastly, racing resumes at the beginning of the lap, not somewhere ahead of that, like normal people.

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 9th July 2013, 7:08

    There’s no real need to change anything in the pitlane – freak accident and you can’t talk about changing sporting rules for it. If it continues to happen, fine, but lets not over react.

    • F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 9th July 2013, 8:20

      i’m inclined to agree with that, especially when it comes to legal issues. but i do think there’s some room for improvement – i remember seeing cameramen getting tangled up in the action before. specifically, a ferrari front jack man had to kick a cameraman out of the way last year i think . for that matter, the last time i recall seeing patrick head he had to be pulled out of the way twice during the same pit stop.

    • Dave (@dworsley) said on 9th July 2013, 9:09

      I am not sure that attitude would comply with international standards for risk management. Can’t wait for a fatality to act on an identified hazard.

    • ^Mo^ said on 9th July 2013, 19:35

      @andrewtanner I disagree this is a freak accident. It’s definitely not the first time this has happened. A freak accident would be something that happened to Massa, where a spring gets loose on another car, and hits him exactly at that one spot.

      We’ve seen plenty of examples where tyres are not fitted correctly, and where tyres bounce through the pit lane.

      Taking the camera men out of the danger zone will keep them safe, but the original problem is still there; a wheel that’s not been fitted correctly and a car sent away. This is going to happen again sooner or later, maybe this time not a camera man will be hit, but someone else might. Perhaps a different pit crew. It can’t be too hard to get some sort of sensor in there that tells the ECU whether all wheels are connected properly or not, and if not, it won’t let the car accelerate.

      I guess a minimum pit stop time would help too, but I wouldn’t want to see that. It would take a lot of excitement out of it. But if that’s what it takes, then that’s what they should do. However, I do think technology can play a big role in this.

  10. Oskar (@oskar) said on 9th July 2013, 8:01

    Webber did an impresive 1:36 while the safety car was out there. ;)

  11. Mike Dee (@mike-dee) said on 9th July 2013, 8:45

    Interesting, Gary Anderson suggested the same as I did: Kimi would have won had he skipped the last pit stop. I disagree with him though that Lotus’ brought him in too late – if they absolutely needed to bring him in, this was the right time as he could then use the option tyre.

  12. Tomsk (@tomsk) said on 9th July 2013, 8:54

    Hopefully this will mean the cameramen are pointing towards the garages and away from the pit wall, so there’ll be fewer shots of the backs of team bosses’ heads on the prat perches (and screens saying “it’s raining”)

    I’m surprised they don’t stick logos on their bald patches, they must get as much screen time as the cars.

  13. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 9th July 2013, 9:14

    I do understand the point that James Moy is making, but I think in some respects he’s being a little disingenuous. Yes, it’s less safe to have more cameramen, especially those who may not have anything like as much experience operating in that environment. However there are some significant differences between an F1 and a Le Mans pitlane. Specifically, the pitstops are way slower in Le Mans, and the procedures mean that mistakes are much less likely. The engine stops when the car stops, the wheels are changed one at a time, and the fuel goes in separately. Plus drivers are prevented from spinning the wheels as they leave the pitbox, and of course by nature it’s very unlikely that a wheel would come off like that, given that the wheels are covered in Le Mans. It’s not to say that accidents don’t happen – we saw an accident at Le Mans this year where a photographer was run down by a car entering its pitbox. The cameraman was standing in the wrong place, and not paying attention. But on the whole I think the Le Mans pitlane is a far safer environment than an F1 pitlane.

    As others have said, you can never eliminate the danger from motorsport, and the pitlane is one of the most hazardous places on the track. But it’s not to say that there should never be a drive to improve them. James Moy’s point seems to be that because a Le Mans pitlane is more likely to see an accident with a media person, that we shouldn’t worry about pitlane safety in F1. This is a very dangerous way to look at things, and I suspect that the poor bloke clouted by a wheel on Sunday may feel like there is still room for improvement..

  14. Martin Fuhs (@chapor) said on 9th July 2013, 9:47

    This could almost be classified a knee jerk reaction. For now, it may be the best solution, but in the long term, I would suggest spotters accompanying the camera men to pull them out of harms way if need be. And then introduce a normed wheel nut and a standardized wheel gun that everyone has to use. I think that the fancy wheel nut designs contribute a lot to their failures to properly secure the wheels as evidenced lately by Williams, Force India, RB etc…

    • hey (@hey) said on 9th July 2013, 17:49

      I agree that this is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction. I mean, what’s changed since a week ago? Either someone’s not considered this fairly-obvious possibility before (which is worrying) or they’ve reevaluated something which they previously though was OK as actually being not OK (which is worrying) or they’re changing something that they thought was OK into something else just to be seen as doing something (which is worrying). There is no good to come out of this.

    • George (@george) said on 9th July 2013, 17:51

      @chapor

      And then introduce a normed wheel nut and a standardized wheel gun that everyone has to use. I think that the fancy wheel nut designs contribute a lot to their failures to properly secure the wheels as evidenced lately by Williams, Force India, RB etc…

      This would seem sensible, and easy to implement at the end of the year. I’m not sure about the spotter idea, it means making the pit lane even more crowded, and there’s no guarantee a spotter would have helped in this case (his view could have been blocked by the mechanics in front).

      • Martin Fuhs (@chapor) said on 10th July 2013, 8:02

        @george I do agree with you about the potential of a spotter not being effective, but then again, it might have at least given the cameraman a warning of sorts instead of being blind sided like that… The spotter could have seen the commotion of the mechanics getting out of the way of the tyre… But neither here nor there, sensible decisions need to be taken. Besides, who would not want to be a spotter for a camera man in a pit lane? I know I would gladly volunteer for that job. :-)

  15. Sergio Perez (@sergio-perez) said on 9th July 2013, 10:40

    As a professional cameraman of racing myself, I don’t like this measure. When we go into the pit lane, we know the inherent risks there are. make us sign a paper, whatever. Restricting the cameraman to the pit wall will mean poorer shots and images for the world audience. This was a freak accident that could have happened to anyone. Better protective gear ,like a helmet and fireproof vest for the cameraman? Sure, this makes sense. Professionals know when to move away and where to stand in these situations. Be prepared for poorer pictures from the pit lane full of wide shots and bodies in front of the camera…

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