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Whiting against a minimum pit stop time

Jan 10, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

A man cleans a motorhome of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) in the paddock area of the Nuerburgring racing circuit Reuters

Formula One race director Charlie Whiting believes that the idea of introducing a minimum time for pit stops would be a bad idea, even if it would improve safety standards.

Concerns about safety standards in the pit lane arose at the German Grand Prix when an FOM cameraman was struck by a loose wheel from Mark Webber’s Red Bull car. Therefore, the idea of introducing a minimum pit stop time to ensure that all parts are fitted correctly was proposed, but Whiting confirmed that it is very unlikely to happen.

“It’s been discussed but it’s not something that’s likely to happen, definitely not,” Whiting said. “I think that would be a bad move and I don’t think it would achieve anything. I think obviously the incident with Mark Webber’s wheel in the Nurburgring started quite a lot of discussion.

“It’s all driven by the quest for speed, but I don’t think if you had a mandatory minimum pit stop time it would change anything. They would still change the wheels quickly and you’d have the rather odd sight of a car just sitting there for the rest of the time.”

For Whiting, the problem is the actual system, not the time that is taken to change the wheels on an F1 car.

“I think what we’ve got to address is the fundamental problem and that is why did that wheel not get fixed on properly?That’s really what we want to do. And why was the car released in an unsafe condition? So what we’ve done since then is to introduce mandatory two stage wheel retention devices on the wheel nuts.”

Whiting, who was speaking in a wide-ranging lecture on safety in Formula One, explained the new systems that are in place to prevent a repeat of the incident at the Nurburgring.

“We have made it compulsory to have the button on the gun has to be in a position where the operator has to make a distinct move to say “yes I’m done” where before they could just slide their thumb across and just say I’m done. Each gun has a button which the operator presses to say he’s done so then the jack men get two green lights on the end of the car, drop the car, then the guy releasing the car sees two green jacks.

“We’ve also introduced an override on the pit wall which is saying that nothing can happen until he takes his finger off the button as well.”

  1. testover6370 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    The Nurburgring incident wouldn’t have happened if Red Bull put as much care into Webber’s car as they did Vettel’s.

  2. mogogo1 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:29 PM

    This sort of thing doesn’t happen all that often. Is the issue that it happened at all or that a cameraman was hit by the wheel?

    • Luke Smith - Jan 11, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      As Charlie explained, the problem is that the wheel came off, regardless of whether or not the cameraman was hit. As proven by Henry Surtees’ death in F2 a few years ago, it’s one of the worst incidents there can be. Red Bull were lucky not to receive a heftier penalty – Renault had a suspended one race ban back after Hungary 2009 for a similar thing on Alonso’s car.

      This was part of the Motorsport Safety Fund lecture in Birmingham, UK, yesterday. If you can find the whole lecture online with Charlie, I’d highly recommend having a watch.

  3. manik56 - Jan 11, 2014 at 12:06 PM

    IndyCar and NASCAR have free-for-alls in the pits. Why is F1 and more dangerous? On another note, why do they need a whole army to service a car?

    • indycarseries500 - Jan 17, 2014 at 9:03 AM

      They don’t, they’d be better off either getting rid of pit stops or sending out less men, NASCAR has the most exciting pit stops in all of racing

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